Taiwan 4: The Englishman

The airplane took off leaving Tokyo; taking me with it, and my expectations about Taiwan. I had done my research. I always do, I mean since I am an obsessive-compulsive reader, it’s not a surprise that I read everything I could possibly read about Taiwan. But what I hadn’t done were hotel reservations, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, this traveler doesn’t like making hotel reservations. Before you condemn me, hear me out, because I have valid, if not, strong reasons to not make hotel reservations

1.- I want to go to the places, where tourist doesn’t usually go; and don’t want the travelers’ websites to tell me where to go. I want to discover my journey on my own. 
 2.- I want to search and look for the city treasures as soon as I land. 
 3.- I want to get to know the locals and talk to them; not as a customer/tourist but as one of them. And nothing better than getting utterly lost to do this 🙂 
4.- I love the adventure.

I know this might sound illogical for some people, but one of the reasons why I learned some much other cultures is that I always tried experiencing the country as one of them, not as an outsider but as a local. And arriving at a hotel makes it difficult for me to achieve this.

I know, I know this might sound strange for some (ok maybe for most of you), but it works for me. However, I have to admit that I regretted my decision when it started to rain; and the heavy drops began pouring on the English man, who bravely accompanied me in this adventure and me. He needed refuge and candidly asked me “Where did you say we were staying,?” he asked hopefully.

And it broke my heart to answer “I haven’t made any reservations, remember?,” I said awkwardly.

The disappointment darkened his blue eyes making them as gray as the sky above us. I could literally see his hopes shattering with every drop of rain that fell on him. And the sting of guiltiness pierced my heart.

Yes, I felt guilty.

But as always lucky was on our side, we found a warm, dry shelter for our tired souls and hungry bodies. We found a hotel within walking distance that promised us the experience of our lives at a reasonable price. Once the English man recovered, we started exploring the city, getting lost together in the tropical night of Taiwan.

The English man smiles, and I felt the universe in my heart. 

Taiwan 3: Lanterns at night

I was walking around in Taiwan getting to know its secrets, observing, enjoying its many aromas, sounds and learning its rhythm when I saw endless rows of lanterns firing up the night.

On that first night, I discovered the intensity of Taiwan, its subtle puzzles and the beauty and the people enjoying the night.

Taiwan 3: Lanterns at night

Taiwan I: Goddess’ tears

Taiwan was a long overdue expedition for me. Its history and culture have always attracted me with a magnetism I can’t quite define with logic. And the opportunity to visit this fascinating place, presented itself when I least expected it, as a gift from the Gods themselves.

Taiwan’s history is longer than I imagined, it was a surprising realization to discover that agriculture was developed 3,000 years ago and that the aboriginal occupants of the island presented more than one unshakable obstacle for the forays at conquering many tried.

Taiwan I: Goddess' tears

In Asia, the calendar indicated the beginning of autumn, but not in the tropical Taiwan, where there’s sun, mango ice cream, and tea everywhere to ease any discomfort its everlasting summer might cause to its visitors.

According to legends and myths I came across, Taiwan was created by the tears of a goddess. And its women were born from the ashes of bamboo trees. However, whatever its origin, there is something undeniable special here, and lucky us, the Gods have blessed this journey.

Chinatown at night: When the dragons play

Chinatown at night is a vision of dragons playing among us. In this place, we are the intruders, because we do not belong to this world of colours and fantasy.


Image 5-13-18 at 7.09 PM

Image 5-13-18 at 7.12 PM

Without internet: Could you work?

 

“I’m telling you when I started my career, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t even work with computers” was saying, my middle-aged colleague.

 

I stared at my colleague while holding my fork halfway to my mouth.
My colleague’s words shocked me because, although, I interact with technology every day, as most of you, it is shocking to be reminded that it was not always the case.

 

My colleagues started talking about telephones, faxes, and notebooks and pens.

“Can you imagine? I even had to go to a seminar to learn how to send e-mails?” My colleague was saying in a low voice as if making me a confidence.

 

My colleague’s words resonate with me because in the back of my head, I still remembering the world without internet, perhaps my generation is the last generation to have grown up without it (internet). Yes, I am that old 🙂

I still remember the boring Sunday afternoons and the horrible silence in the streets when the children went back home for dinner.

 

In other words, I remember daily life without internet. But business without internet, I have never experienced..!! and I think that is a huge (very big) challenge.

 

Just think about it, you are only giving a notebook and pen. And you can use the office’s phone and fax machine as long as the other thirty people, who work with you, are not using it 😫

I don’t know you, but I couldn’t work properly. Or maybe I am just spoiled.

 

Working without computer or internet, I have never done. And that’s why I take my hat off (I want to show my respect) to those colleagues who have achieved so much without technology. Thank you, and I hope one day, I can be as good as you are.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

#DACA: Broken dreams, broken economy

#DACA is a program started by President Obama, in which people who arrived illegally in the United States as children can work and thrive, in other words, feel at home in their home.

#DACA recipients do not know any other country than the United States of America, why then take away their rights? When they, economically, generate millions of dollars. They buy homes, own business creating in this way jobs Americans say immigrants steal from them.

 

Without going into sentimentalisms ending #DACA is a terrible business move.

Why is it a bad business move?

Well, when 800,000 thriving young,  people stop paying taxes, their business taken, and with them, the jobs they created, then it would, logically, have an enormous impact on the economy. Without counting that according to #CNN deporting #DACA recipients “would cost American economy 400 billion dollars” what a “brilliant businessman” you are, Mr. Trump. 

 Of course, Mr. Trump is not a brilliant businessman, nobody in their right mind would consider anything but a white supremacist, whose narrowed views are affecting millions of hard working people.

#DACA is not only a direct attack on the weakest members of society but a tremendous economic mistake.

But I guess, it is all about making America great again, isn’t it?

Introducing yourself: In Rome do as Romans do

A sunny day of spring, I bravely made my way to the closest Japanese school and tried to make one of my most precious dreams come true: Stop speaking Japanese like a barbarian.


When I got to the class, there were all younger than me, as I had expected. And all Asians. Most of them Chinese. And as I don’t speak Chinese I was feeling rather left out.

I tried to smile in a rather sad attempt to connect with them. But it was all dead silent. I was cursing myself already for being an idiot. At my 30’s something, I should have known better. I was already thinking to call my boss to apologize and ask him to give me my job back. I am sure he will believe I was “temporarily insane.” When suddenly a young teacher entered the room. Stopping my thoughts at once

He looked at us, smiled and introduced himself as our tutor. When he finished, he asked us to do the same. And if as someone had switched a lamp, the whole room became alive. The youth woke up, and the dead whispers became an animated chorus of singing cicadas in summer. It was a magical moment.

When we all finished introducing ourselves, the veil that had covered the room in the gloom was simply lifted.

And I am sure this was inadvertently for them, but for me, I had just witnessed the power of self-introduction in Asia. I have all these years thought, stupidly, that it was mainly a Japanese cultural characteristic but I was wrong, it is an Asian cultural characteristic.

In Asia, you need to introduce yourself. You must introduce yourself. As if giving the person you meet a rope to not fall off a cliff. And for me realizing this was like a car crash because I do not like introducing myself. But in Rome do as Romans do.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

Work ethics

On rainy days, especially in Tokyo, the world seems to stand still.Or so you think. Even in the most terrible of rainy days, those that come with typhoon warmings, people would still make their way to work.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat” can keep Japanese employees from their desk, duties and prized customers.
In fact, most employees know how to get from home to their offices by foot. Just in case, they need to do so. Granted, that’s also due to our elevated numbers of earthquakes, In fact, everybody still talking about where they were when 3.11 earthquake stroke. After which, all transport systems were suspended for security.

The memory of 3.11 it does still hunt us.

But even 3.11, the worst natural disaster in modern Japanese history, couldn’t stop us from going to work. Yup, even this immigrant followed the example of the strong and admirable Japanese ethics.

I was still in shock, so I cried a little on my way to work and prayed some more, but I made it through. And it was a good lesson because it taught me to stand with Japanese people and support them. Support us. And the message was loud and clear: You want to be one of us, you work like of us.

Of course, there are things we must change in our vision of business. But what we can praise about Japanese people is their strong work ethics, loyalty, and precision when creating. And these characteristics are found in everything we have in this country.

[ssm_form id=’1172′]

Is multiculturalism an advantage in a homogeneous society?

Working with people from different nationalities, although, exciting and thrilling, it is not always a piece of cake. But I love it.

Moving without realizing it, among various cultures and languages in the same building can be a daily adventure. You never know what’s going to happen. You never know when the Latinos are going to snap at you, with their rather hot-blooded temper.Nobody knows. Even Latino people themselves don’t know when they might snap. Believe me. I should know since I’m a Latino woman and the one who always snaps (Ooops, you didn’t read that here)

But seriously, working in a multicultural environment is interesting, it can be an incredible learning opportunity because you can always learn exciting and fabulous  things about other countries and cultures

And why not? Even learn a new language

Knowledge of different languages also gives you a rather deep insight into the culture you want to know better. And in my humble opinion, a powerful tool when trying to connect with the locals.

It doesn’t matter if you speak the local language, as a barbarian, as I do. The effort is what counts 😉

And in this multicultural maze, you learn to adapt, to change your cultural skin as it were a jacket and to communicate in various ways to suit your audience.

But what happens, when you are a multilingual and multicultural person living a homogeneous society, where even the concept of multilingualism is barely understood. These societies still exist in this globalized world. And they still discovering the world beyond their borders as if they were discovering hidden moons in their backyards.

I am lucky enough to live in one of these societies, and I must admit that is not always easy, I find people staring at me when I speak with my husband in English. And even at the supermarket, people try to take a peek into my bags. You might want to know why. And the answer is because they want to know what I eat as if I came from Mars. This behavior is quite rude for many. And I agree. But in those moments, I remind myself that I am a teacher, and that understanding is vital to educate not only my students but society. Because I have decided to stay and to teach what I know. Share what I have. And nurture the people around me to let them know that the unknown world they might fear is not so scary after all.

So answering my question, I would say that multiculturalism is an advantage in a homogeneous society but not for ourselves but for the good we can do to others. What do you think?

[ssm_form id=’1172′]