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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Exploring Taroko Gorge and Indigenous Historical past in Hualien County

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Written by Matthew Merritt (Yale College), Pupil Correspondent for CET Taiwan, Summer season 2023

It’s Sunday, July thirtieth, which suggests I’m leaving Taiwan in 6 days. Quickly, I’ll spend a couple of days on my household’s farm in Alabama earlier than returning to Yale for my senior yr.

Not solely does it really feel like simply yesterday that I arrived in Taiwan, it looks like simply final week, I and everybody else endured a world pandemic that basically modified the methods we kind and participate in group.

Time strikes rapidly, so I make sense of its passage by contemplating the completely different communities I’ve taken half in. Over the previous yr and a half, I’ve lived in Dublin, Edinburgh, New Haven, and Taipei, every for over two months at a time.

After I take into consideration Dublin, I bear in mind my buddy Seán, who helped me discover a tutorial matter with which I used to be unfamiliar and inspired me to take day off to rejoice my late father’s birthday. In Edinburgh, I bear in mind a espresso store referred to as Ilium, the place every week I talked to the proprietor Sam, who will not be a lot older than me and but appears to have the essence of life already found out. In New Haven, I bear in mind lobster rolls, ringing bells, and buddies like Kaleb, who make me really feel each liked and in awe on the identical time.


CET Taiwan student and his language partner, Hua, smiling and holding up a mochi ball

Hua and I Having fun with Traditioal Mochi Balls


My time in Taipei is finest outlined by my language accomplice, Hua, and the two-day journey she helped manage to Hualien County. Along with serving to me navigate Taiwan, Hua took time each week to indicate me one of the best locations in Taiwan to eat and assist me observe talking Chinese language. She additionally taught me a typical Taiwanese basketball sport (and let me win) and made me really feel slightly extra settled in a brand new place.


A stream running between the large and rocky rounded mountains at Taroko Gorge in Taiwan

Harrowing Glimpse of Taroko Gorge


On our first day in Hualien, Hua and I explored the Taroko Gorge, the place the Liwu River created lovely marble canyons over tens of millions of years. As we drove by means of the gorge, we stopped at Everlasting Spring Shrine, inbuilt commemoration of the 212 lives misplaced throughout the development of Cross Island Freeway that snakes by means of the gorge.



On our second day in Hualien, Hua and I made our method south to Fengbin Township, the place we realized concerning the historical past and meals of the Amis tribe, Taiwan’s largest indigenous group. Regardless of genocide and cultural erasure throughout Japanese colonization within the twentieth century, our information defined, the Amis folks, their faith, language, and traditions stay intact as we speak.

Like ourselves, cultures and communities are all the time altering. As soon as I go away Taiwan, I do know I’ll proceed to replicate upon the teachings absorbed throughout my time right here, in addition to the methods wherein my time right here shapes my coming of age expertise.

I do know I need to additionally take into account the paradigm of Taiwan’s magnificence— its panorama and indigenous peoples— and complexity that I skilled throughout my brief journey to Hualien. My time there with my new buddy Hua helps me higher contextualize the world and self I’m creating in actual time with good of us.

Thanks for studying my blogs! If you need to get in contact, I might be contacted at [email protected].

With appreciation, Matthew 🙂

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