Archive for the ‘Schoolwork’ category

臉書時代的情形 ~ The Facebook Generation

May 28, 2011

臉書時代的情形
作者: 史杰輝
編輯: 沈若榆

自從大學就學以後,我只要透過臉書就可以毫不費力地知道遠方朋友的情形。反過來說,我朋友無論是美國人或是臺灣人,也都可以隨時跟我聯絡。因爲使朋友能夠交換網站,所以臉書在信息跟娛樂活動上也有所貢獻。
如果可以因此緩和分離的痛苦,又何嘗不可?不過從另外一個角度來看,如此方便的社會網絡,並非人人都能抗拒對臉書上癮。即使臉書是交流工具,也絕對不能取代面對面互動交際。雖然歷經多年網絡上的友情,仍然無法了解那個朋友的情形。如果某人在現實生活中沒有其他的興趣,反而在螢幕前面度過大部分的時間,這並不是我們所樂見的。
我有少數朋友至今仍拒絕用臉書,他們說必須藉由親身的經驗來過真正的生活。由於臉書為我個人帶來許許多多的好處,我不願意放棄這個工具,不過我很關心我使用電腦的時間,希望好好利用我生活的寶貴時間。

The Facebook Generation
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Shen Ruo-yu

Ever since I went to college, I’ve been able to use Facebook to effortlessly keep up with my friends from a distance. And whether my friends are American or Taiwanese, they can use Facebook to keep in touch with me. Because Facebook also lets friends trade web addresses, it’s also made a great contribution to the news and entertainment industries.

If we can use the network to ease the pain of separation, what could be wrong with it? Well, such a convenient social network can be addictive. Though Facebook is a handy communication tool, it still can’t compare to face-to-face interaction. Even if you maintain a friendship with someone for years through the Internet, you can’t understand certain things about their lives. Not cultivating one’s interests outside of Facebook and spending most of one’s life in front of a monitor are not things we should look favorably upon.

I have a few friends who refuse to use Facebook. They say only life in the outside world is real. Because Facebook has done so much good for me, I don’t want to give it up, but I keep track of how much time I spend on the computer; I want to use my limited lifespan wisely.

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地域觀念的影響

May 27, 2011

地域觀念的影響
作者:史杰輝
編輯:周長楨

今天我的同學,思婷,說「半身插進土裡」的村民可能免不了討厭那個地方。我認爲她說得很中肯,所以先把這個思想加以分析。我學生時代常常用尖酸刻薄的話描寫我家鄉。即使我了解那是非常安全跟富有的地方,也以爲村民很淺薄、很高傲。作爲一個青少年,固然很容易流於批評人和事,不過理由不充足的話只是害人害己罷了。我如今的愛鄉土感情比任何時候都強烈。

進一步來説,除了我家鄉以外,我也住過在四個不同的地方,那就是杜克大學、馬德里、一座日本農村跟臺北,都各有千秋。在我腦海裡我管每一個地方都叫過「我家」。每到夢到某個地方的時候,我就知道我在那裡感到自在了。去年世界盃的時候我支持三個國家隊。錦標賽當天我四點起床看了比賽,西班牙勝利之後我就欣喜若狂。

我想這樣的觀點與傳統地域觀念有衝突,不過在這個國際化的社會裡類似我的人會一年比一年多。其實,不少居住在日本的移民哀嘆無論他們住在某個地方幾年,參加幾個當地活動,本地的人還是把他們看成旅客,問他們什麽時候要歸國。這是日本移民的苦衷,跟美國的情形截然不同。縱使日本人注意到移民有形的差異,不過至少得承認有日本血統不是當日本人的必要條件。大家都知道我珍惜我日本鄉下經驗,不過我也感到了這個不能跨越的隔閡。

反過來說,我在臺灣也屬於少數民族,不過我在這裡連一次也沒有被排斥,我覺得非常難得。ICLP的國際化固然扮演很重要的角色,不過我當地朋友也說因爲臺灣已經是多種民族的社會,也受過多種民族統治國家的影響,必然比較開放。到目前爲止,我所觀察到的臺灣的地域觀念簡直是微乎其微。

Regionalism’s Influence
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen

Today my classmate Stephanie said that some people who are “half-planted in their hometown soil” [a Chinese figure of speech] can’t help hating the place. I think this is very true, so first I’d like to expand on her thought. When I was a student, I often used sarcasm to describe my hometown. Even though I knew it was a very safe and prosperous place, I thought the people there were shallow and arrogant. When you’re an adolescent, it’s natural to criticize other people and things, but if you don’t have a good reason for it you’ll simply hurt yourself and others. My love for my hometown has never been stronger than it is now.

Taking it a step further, I’ve now lived in four other places: Duke University, Madrid, my Japanese farming village, and Taipei, each of which has its own great qualities. I’ve thought of each place as “my home” before. Whenever I start to dream of a place, I know I’ve become comfortable there. I supported three teams during last year’s World Cup. I woke up at 4 AM to watch the championship game, and I was celebrating all day after Spain won.

I imagine my attitude conflicts with traditional regionalism and nationalism, but in today’s internationalized society there are more people like me every year. To tell the truth, though, more than a few emigrants to Japan complain that no matter how many years they’ve lived there, and no matter how many local activities they’ve participated in, the natives see them as guests and ask them when they’re planning to return home. This is completely different from the emotional burden carried by, for example, an emigrant to America. Though the Japanese easily distinguish a person looks different, they should at least acknowledge that Japanese ancestry is not a necessary condition for being a Japanese person. You all know I treasured my experience in Japan, but I also felt this kind of distance from people when I lived there.

Though I am also a minority in Taiwan, I’ve never felt left out here, and I find that amazing. ICLP’s international atmosphere obviously plays a big role in that, but my Taiwanese friends also say that because their island already has so many ethnic groups, and it has been governed by many different nations, it has a more open society. As far as I can tell, Taiwanese-style “nationalism” is a rare thing.

日本教育的好處 ~ Japanese Education’s Strong Points

May 22, 2011

日本教育的好處
作者:史杰輝
編輯:周長楨

大學畢業後我在日本五所國立中小學校教了兩年的英文。我一共跟四十多位老師跟一千多個學生一起上課。根據我的觀點這種了解日本教育的機會真是鳳毛麟角。日本教育跟我國教育比起來,缺陷有倒是有,可是在原則方面也有很明顯的優點,以下我要擧一些例子。

許多美國朋友,尤其是男生表示他們小學的時候討厭上課因爲令他們悶得發慌。更可憐的是許多教育者以爲類似的坐立不安的學生有精神病,因此讓他們天天吃葯。不過孩子本來不適合坐著念書,而需要常常運動、體驗。雖然日本也有不少應升學主義而成爲「書呆子」的學生,但是學校都爲了培養四育起見,進行各種各樣的活動,尤其是小學。我的學生往往要參加似乎無限的活動,包括園藝、種田、每日運動、藝術、表演、工作經歷、拜訪療養院等等,這幫助學生同時明白和培養自己的興趣和擴大經驗的範圍。我認爲一般的學校之所以智育站首要地位就是因爲智育是最容易管理的方面而已。

美國老師的標準與地位都不如日本老師。日本用淘汰制度挑選老師,原因在於該工作的名聲、穩定性,而且薪水很高。老師也在教書生涯中受訓練、加班。因此我認識的日本老師大部分都不但聰明而且認真。

我最後要討論日本老師的責任感。如果學生受傷或是被逮捕,醫生跟警察一定給學生的「担任老師」打電話,老師無論如何都會到學生那裡去。開學的時候老師爲了了解學生的家庭情形起見要拜訪他所有學生的家。老師也每個星期都要看學生寫給他們的日記,然後老師給學生私人指導。我不要說美國老師應該像日本老師一樣當學生生活上最重要的人,原因之一是日本跟美國有不能調和的文化差異,不過我個人在日本教書的時候感到我跟自己中小學老師的距離是一個缺憾。

因爲受到時間的限制,我只能談到這三個現象,不過因爲我對這個話題相當有興趣,歡迎各位老師跟同學隨時跟我一起討論日本教育的情形。

Japanese Education’s Strong Points
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen

After graduating from college, I taught English in Japan for two years. I had class with over 40 teachers and 1000 students altogether; it was a precious opportunity to learn about Japanese education. Though Japanese schools don’t surpass my home country in every respect, it still has many good qualities, some of which I’ll describe here.

Many of my American friends, especially men, have told me that they hated going to elementary school because it bored them out of their minds. What’s worse is that many educators assumed restless students like them had mental problems and fed these children medicine day after day. But young people aren’t meant to sit and read all day: they need to exercise and try different things. Although Japan has more than a few bookworms, its schools, especially elementary schools, still offer several kinds of activities designed to provide a well-rounded training of the body, knowledge, teamwork, and morality. My students participated in a seemingly endless number of events, including gardening, rice-planting, daily exercise, art, work experiences, visiting nursing homes, and so forth. This helped them realize their own interests and abilities and expand their horizons. I think the majority of schools devote most of their time to the “knowledge” side of education simply because that’s the easiest to teach.

Japanese teachers have to meet higher standards than their American counterparts and also receive more respect. Teachers have to compete for positions in Japan because the occupation has so much esteem, stability, and remuneration. Teachers receive training and work overtime throughout their careers. Hence, most of the teachers I met there were not only intelligent but also hard-working.

Finally, I’d like to discuss Japanese teachers’ sense of responsibility to their students. If a student is injured or arrested, the doctor or policeman will call his homeroom teacher, and the teacher will drop everything and visit the student no matter what. At the beginning of the school year, teachers visit students’ homes to understand their families’ circumstances. Students also write diaries for their teachers, who after reading them give their students guidance. I’m not saying American teachers should become the most important people in their students’ lives, as Japanese teachers are – for one, there is a vast cultural differences between the two countries – but after teaching in Japan, I felt regret about the distance between me and my elementary and junior high school teachers.

Because of time constraints, I can only discuss these three phenomena, but because I’m very interested in this topic, I invite my teachers and classmates to discuss Japanese education with me any time.

ICLP電子報第47期:何寶彰教授演講側記 ~ Notes from Professor He Bao-zhang’s Lecture (featured in 47th ICLP Bulletin)

May 11, 2011

ICLP Student and Teachers with Professor He

電子報第47期:何寶彰教授演講側記

Notes from Professor He Bao-zhang’s Lecture
English Translation of an Article by James Smyth

On the afternoon of April 20th, just before our spring vacation, Professor He Bao-zhang, who researches Chinese language education, came to ICLP and gave a lively introduction of his most recent work on grammar instruction. Dr. He taught at Ohio State, Harvard, and Holy Cross Universities in the United States for many years. In his experience, if a professor learns his students’ mother language, he can more easily grasp the difficulties the students will have with Chinese grammar and help them. Because students use syntax from their native languages and other foreign languages they’ve studied, they think they’re speaking very clearly, so they need definitive explanations of the differences between other languages and Mandarin. Grammar books should be bilingual, otherwise the explanations will be harder for students to understand than the examples.

One wedge between Western languages and Chinese is articles. In English, all common nouns are preceded by either “the” or “a.” Roughly speaking, the definite article “the” signifies “that particular thing” while the indefinite article “a” means “an unspecified one of those things.” Chinese doesn’t have articles, but it does put particular emphasis on the construction of a sentence; for example, “How does he sing?” and “How is his singing?” emphasize difference things, and teachers should stress that so that their students can speak more natural Chinese. When introducing grammar, however, a teacher shouldn’t get too caught up in detailing exceptions to rules, otherwise his students could forget the original purpose of the lesson or become frustrated and think Chinese is too difficult.

In the last part of the lecture, Dr. He and ICLP teachers had a spirited discussion of the evolution of conversational Chinese in Taiwan, especially the obvious influence of English: for example, teachers often overhear pidgin like “O bu OK?” (is it OK?) or “under bu understand?” (do you understand?) This exchange reminded me of my classmate Lance Davis’s report at the end of last term; obviously the subject is also of great interest to language instructors. Along these lines, Dr. He encouraged exchange students to make lots of Taiwanese friends, but he said if these friends challenge students with arguments like “I can understand you; you can understand me, so why are you still paying so much money to go to class?” they should calmly remind themselves why they’re studying: formal environments demand much greater proficiency than conversations among friends do.

Dr. He has a warm personality and deep experience, and his research is very meaningful, so the audience all went home happy.

ICLP電子報第47期:北港媽祖廟會 ~ Beigang Mazu Festival (Featured in 47th ICLP Bulletin)

May 10, 2011

ICLP 電子報: 北港媽祖廟會 (Original Article Which Includes Photos)

Beigang Matsu Festival
By James Smyth

On Thursday, April 21, a group from ICLP went to Beigang for the most important field trip of the school year. This year, over 30 students and teachers left together from Taipei; other students fit the trip into their own travel plans and met us there. Some students said this was their first time to leave Taipei and come to “the real Taiwan,” so it was a precious opportunity for them.

Because teachers and students have contributed so many pictures and videos, I think writing too many words to describe the trip would be like drawing legs for a snake (superfluous (unless it’s Trogdor the Burninator)), so instead I’ll just explain what you’re seeing in the images. Mazu (“Mother Ancestor”), also called Shengmu (“Holy Mother”), is a traditional Chinese goddess. She is a patron saint of the people of southeastern China, including the Taiwanese. In 1694 (Year 33 of Qing Emperor Kangxi’s reign), a figure of the goddess was brought from Meizhou, Fujian to Taiwan, and the people of Beigang built a temple to house her. Now more than a million people visit Chaotian Temple every year, and the busiest time of year is her birthday, the recently-passed 19th day of the third month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

Obviously, the incense, offerings, paper money, dice, censers, and donations were busy at Chaotian Temple, but the most distinctive part of the festival was the parade of pilgrims circling the temple, led by Mazu’s “advance guard.” They must have been exceptionally brave because all around them, people were setting off fireworks, mascots were dancing, and people and gods were both acting as Mazu’s servants. People carried images of the goddess in carts on their shoulders. Not only the Americans but even many Taiwanese thought it was brutally loud. So many fireworks were set off that when the wind blew or cars drove by, their tattered wrappers took to the air like they were dancing. Judging by this tradition, Mazu and the people have a mutually beneficial relationship: the people defend her from manmade threats, and she defends them from natural ones.

The parade floats (called “artistic pavilions”) were like no other. Small children dressed as Mazu sat atop beautifully decorated vehicles and threw candy to the people. I could tell from the many emotional faces in the crowd that they felt like they were encountering the goddess through the children. The children were extremely well-behaved; though the time they spent in makeup must have been longer than a typical school day, and the floats were blaring all kinds of cheerful music, even arch-American anthems like “Yankee Doodle” and “Jingle Bells,” they kept on serving their elders. The next Monday, to keep the positive cycle going, I threw candy I received to my classmates and teachers at school.

Han Feizi said that when all is peaceful under heaven, the people do not need to ask for help from ghosts or gods, and their faith diminishes. Religious belief is weaker every year in modern Europe; might rapidly developing Taiwan suffer the same phenomenon? I’m not qualified to say, but before we arrived in Beigang, a minor accident destroyed my sense of “invincibility.” I was resless at a rest stop, and I decided to get some exercise, so I took off running. Somehow, I slipped, fell, and slid across the concrete headfirst like a baseball player, cutting open my elbow, knee, and stomach. I must have looked like a small child. I was treated on the bus, at the next destination, and in a Beigang hospital, and I’m already much better, but it made me think that no matter what our circumstances, our lives are fragile: a natural disaster or a manmade one, a disease or an accident could break us down. I personally believe that people cannot outgrow religious faith. Speaking of which, recently sea travelers have decreased dramatically, but more people ride airplanes every year, especially Taiwanese, who often travel abroad, and they need a protector goddess, too. Perhaps Mazu is already on the job!

我狩獵收集者的生活 ~ My Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle

May 4, 2011

我狩獵收集者的生活
作者:史杰輝
編輯:周長楨

我最近一次因爲生病的緣故請假是十年前,可是那天我們正在搬家,因此連當時候我都沒辦法休息,只好幫我父母。我怎麽這麽健康呢?當然最重要的原因是我走運,可是我生活習慣跟我健康也有很大的關係。

我爸爸的榜樣對我有很大的影響。我媽媽説我爸爸一直以健康生活爲主,連大學的時候跟他一起吃飯都需要有耐心,因爲他的營養標準特別高。他最喜歡的肉就是魚肉,我們每個聖誕節都送給他一條鮭魚。無論我們在吃什麽,他都要加橄欖油。我每個星期跟他聊天的時候,他就告訴我他新的生活習慣。(去年是舉重,今年是氣功。)其實,因爲一般人不相信他已經五十八嵗,再加上他一點肥胖症也沒有,可見他保持健康的方法很有效率。

作者主張運動和勞動,跟我的觀念是一致的。我個人認爲現代久坐的生活不適合我們人類的本性。從小我父母就鼓勵我天天運動,我從三嵗起開始游泳,參加球隊。高中的時候,我參加了賽跑隊。跑了九年的步以後我膝蓋常常疼痛,所以我把游泳當作了主要的運動。在ICLP開學之後我一直擔心時間,所以還沒有找到游泳的機會,可是每天起床以後都伸展、舉重一下,每兩天都會藉著騎宿舍的健身車、空的人行道、樓梯來訓練。

你們都還記得小時候學過的「食物錐」吧?我從接受那個知識來每天都要吃豐富多彩的食物。「今日臺灣」說蘭嶼島的雅美族人世代依賴捕魚、種芋維持生活。我很想試吃這個飲食。因爲人類的祖先每天都要狩獵或是收集食物,他們的食量少可是營養很豐富。我們之所以以大米和小麥爲主食不是因爲他們有最足夠的營養,而是因爲最適合大量種。我最喜歡的外國菜不是它們的美食,而是他們最健康的食物,譬如說西班牙的橄欖、日本的味噌湯跟苦瓜跟灣的地瓜、芝麻、水果等等。

我最近也發現我們所吃的份量也很重要。我這五年來變瘦了十三公斤左右,也更有精神了,原因在於我越來越「聼身體的話」。所謂「聼身體的話」的意思是我覺得肚子不餓了就不再吃。何以見得這有道理呢?我在日本爬屋久島跟富士山的時候發現吃太多讓爬山更難。因爲當時我正在運動,我明白我做功課的時候應該吃更少。我也發現每三個小時吃一點比每天都吃三大餐有效率。我們應該爲了做更多活動吃東西或是爲了吃更多東西做活動呢?我不是禁止大家吃炒的食物,然而我覺得我們應該注意卡路里攝取。擧一個例子來説,我覺得可口可樂適合當做飯後甜點,我不能接受美國人以這種軟性飲料來代替水的習慣。

我連覺得不舒服的時候也不吃葯。我聽説細菌可能適應我們的葯物,所以我不想給細菌機會變得更強,也不想讓我身體太依靠葯,免得上癮。我也絕不抽煙,不常喝酒,那不等於我有健康的生活,可是對我一定有幫助。

我跟爸爸有相同的健康觀點,可是也有他的缺點,就是睡眠不夠。古代,天黑了以後溫度也下降了,人民沒有力氣繼續活動,只好睡覺。現代的社會不一樣了,可以24小時繼續工作或是玩。我也是不願意停下活動而就寢。可是我也習慣提早起床,連假日也六點鐘自然地醒來。老師跟同學們常常說我看起來很累,可見我要調整生活,早一點做功課,早一點休息。

總而言之,雖然我們不必像祖先忍受物資不夠的狀況,可是我們還是應該繼續他們的好習慣。

My Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Zhou Chang-zhen

The last time I took a sick day was ten years ago, but my family was moving to another home that day, so instead of resting I helped my parents. Why am I so healthy? The most important reason is good fortune, obviously, but my lifestyle also plays an important role.

My father’s example has made a big impression on me. My mother says that healthy living has always been important to him, and even as a college student it took some patience to dine with him because his nutritional standards were so high. His favorite kind of meat is fish; every Christmas, we give him a salmon. He adds olive oil to whatever we’re eating. When I talk to him each week, he tells me about his new lifestyle habit. (Last year, it was weightlifting, and this year, it’s breathing exercises.) But seriously, no one believes he’s already 58 years old, and he isn’t a pound overweight, so it’s easy to see his techniques are effective.

The author of Thought and Society advocates exercise and physical labor, and I’m in agreement with him. I believe that our present-day sedentary lifestyles don’t suit human nature. My parents have always encouraged me to exercise daily: I’ve swum and played on sports teams since I was three. In high school, I ran long distance. After running for nine years, my knees started to ache, so I made swimming my primary sport. I’ve been worried about time ever since I started studying at ICLP, so I haven’t made room for swimming, but I stretch and lift weights every day after I wake up, and every other day I ride the dormitory’s exercise bike, run on a free sidewalk, and climb stairwells.

Do you remember the food pyramid? Ever since learning about it, I’ve tried to eat various kinds of food every day. Taiwan Today says the Yamei tribe on Lanyu Island have lived on fish and sweet potatoes for generations. I’d like to try their diet. Because our ancestors had to hunt or gather their food, their diet was small in quantity but abundant in nutrition. We’ve made rich and wheat our staple foods because they’re the easiest to mass-produce, not because they’re the most nutritious. My favorite foods from foreign countries are their healthiest dishes, not their most famous ones, for example Spanish olives, Japanese miso soup and bitter melon, Taiwanese sweet potatoes, sesame, and fruit, and so forth.

Lately I’ve realized that the amount one eats is important, as well. Over the last five years, I’ve lost about 13 kg (29 lb), but I have more energy than before. That’s because I’m listening to my body more. “Listening to my body” means that when I don’t feel hungry anymore, I stop eating. How did I realize this made sense? When I was hiking on Yakushima and Mount Fuji in Japan, eating too much made it harder for me to climb. Because I was exercising at that very moment, I realized that when I was doing homework or the like, I should eat even less. I also realized that eating a little every three hours is more efficient than having three big meals. Should we eat to live or live to eat? I’m not one to restrict fried food, but I do think we should count calories. For example, I think Coca-Cola is a good dessert, but I can’t abide by its status as a substitute for water in America.

Even when I don’t feel well, I don’t take medicine. I heard that viruses can adapt to our drugs, so I don’t want to give them a chance to get stronger; nor do I want to become dependent. I also rarely drink and never smoke; that in itself doesn’t mean I have a healthy lifestyle, but it definitely helps.

My father and I have the same perspective on health, but we also have the same weakness: we don’t sleep enough. In the old days, when it got dark, the temperature dropped, and people didn’t have the energy to do anything else, so they simply went to bed. Today’s society is different; you can work or play 24 hours a day. I don’t like to stop working and go to sleep, myself. But I’m also an early riser; I naturally get up early even on holidays. My teachers and classmates often say I look tired, a clear sign I need to adjust my lifestyle and do my homework a little faster so I can go to bed earlier.

In conclusion, though we don’t need to live in poverty like our ancestors, we should still continue their good habits.

是否移民 ~ Whether To Emigrate

May 3, 2011

是否移民
作者: 史杰輝
編輯: 沈若榆

美國以自己為移民組成的國家,反過來說,只有少數美國人移居外國。連有護照的美國人佔不到百分之四十。絕大多數國民認爲因爲美國是最自由、平等跟富裕的國家之一,所以各個民族都希望移民到這裏來。不過這幾年來由於美國的經濟不景氣,而且許多國家的經濟持續高度發展中,這會影響到大家對美國的觀念,甚至於引起我國民眾逐年移居外國的現象嗎?

一個臺灣朋友告訴我十年前,他家移民到美國,可是他不願意去,他認爲臺灣比較適合他的條件,他就一個人留在臺灣繼續念高中。沒有什麼遺憾,今年他妹妹大學將畢業,畢業之後打算回臺灣來找工作。

我問了在美國出生的華人朋友他要不要定居在臺灣。他說一定可以,他不但喜歡臺灣的環境,而且連他哥哥今年秋天都要來這裡工作,不過我朋友也認為要是他父母還在美國,回到其母國來有一點奇怪。我告訴他應該不會。他父母之所以移民就是因爲當時美國比臺灣有機會,如果現在的情形是相反的,也算跟著父母的腳步。

其實,雖然我自己本來打算學好中文以後回國,可是這個星期才意識到去年搬到臺灣之後一直過得非常舒服,而且這裡的工作機會跟生活費用可能比美國的條件好得多。這樣的情形不是每天都找得到的呢。有人捨不得離開家人跟朋友,不過我覺得網路緩和這個問題,再加上我的美國朋友都已經住在不同的城市,因此可以說在這個世界上沒有我一定要回去的地方。定居在這兒的話,最讓我孤獨的事情大概就只是沒辦法參加我所有朋友的婚禮而已,可是我的人生應該以那些事件爲主嗎?我認爲只有天主給我預備的路才通往我命運,而這條路無論通往哪裏我都要走。

To Emigrate
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Shen Ruo-yu

On the one hand, the United States considers itself a nation of immigrants; on the other hand, few Americans emigrate. Less than 40% of Americans even have passports. The vast majority of U.S. citizens believe that their country is one of the freest, fairest, and most prosperous in the world, and that people from all over the world want to move there. But in recent years, America has suffered a recession while several other national economies have taken off. Could this influence Americans’ self-image and even inspire more of them to move abroad?

One Taiwanese friend told me that ten years ago, his family moved to the United States, but he thought Taiwan was more convenient for him, so he stayed behind and continued studying in his Taiwanese high school. He doesn’t regret his decision, and this year his younger sister, who has just graduated from an American university, plans to return to Taiwan herself to seek employment.

I asked a Taiwanese-American student whether he would like to stay here in Taiwan. He said he definitely could, not only because he loves this environment but also because his brother is coming here this year to work, but he said it would be strange if his parents emigrated to America and stayed there while he and his brother came back to Taiwan. I told him it wasn’t odd at all: his parents moved to America for a better life, by moving for the same reason, he would be following in their footsteps, just going in the opposite direction.

To be honest, although I originally planned to return home after completing my Chinese studies here, this week I’ve realized that ever since I moved to Taiwan I’ve felt extremely comfortable, and besides that my work opportunities and cost of living here may well be much better here than in the States. That isn’t the kind of situation you happen upon every day. Some people can’t stand to leave their friends and family, but I think the Internet has helped to mitigate this issue, and in addition my American friends and family all live in different cities, so there isn’t a place on earth to which I absolutely must return. If I settle down here, the thing would make me most lonely is missing friends’ weddings, but is that something to plan my life around? Ultimately, only God can decide my future, and I should follow the road he sets out for me, no matter where it leads.