Telling a story about my own experiences of Taiwanese hospitality, and having to choose the most touching one, is actually a bit hard because I am glad I have plenty of experiences to share about it. I think most of Taiwanese people are extremely kind with foreigners. Maybe not all of them are willing to let you enter into their homes and share the table with them, but in a general picture, maybe you just need to have a little faith to believe you could actually end up having a close friendship with the locals. 

In my country, I also like to treat the foreigners as family and I strongly believe that everything that goes around comes around. So it was that way for me, living in Taiwan as a foreigner. This is my second year here and I will be graduating this semester of the Master Degree Program. I can certainly say that my perception now about Taiwan’s culture is not as superficial as it was last year. Even though I have to come back home after finish my studies, I can say that I finally managed to live as a local within Taiwan people and I loved it.

The story about the most touching experience of Taiwanese hospitality, starts from when I met a slightly local Taiwanese at the bus stop of my university. I was with another friend waiting for the bus, when this lady suddenly approached us and asked us where we were from. The funny thing was that she did not make the question in English or even Chinese but Spanish. I was surprised but answered her kindly and the rest is history. This was the very beginning of a beautiful relationship and friendship. I wish I could have all the time of the world to share all the details of how we kept in touch after this first encounter and how we continue building our friendship but I will just try to go straightforward.   

Her name is Emma, 55 years old, she has a nice family and a nice house near my school. Emma loves to make new friends to practice her Spanish and be helpful to foreigners in everything they need. It was Chinese New Year, the year of the sheep and the first time I celebrated Chinese New Year in Asia, with an ‘Asian’ family. It was an unforgettable night, abundant food, laughs, anecdotes and just to sit at the table as a family and share the good things that the previous year had brought, it was much the same as the feeling of being at home. Although it was February and it is strange for me to celebrate New Year’s Eve in February, it was an experience that marked my life.

 

Traditionally, red envelopes are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebration, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red envelopes to children, which means good luck and fortune. When I studied about Chinese New Year’s celebration, I always hope I could receive one of those for the simple fact that I like the tradition of taking care for the youngest and I also hope I can adopt the same tradition someday with my own children. 

No doubt the beginning of the year of the sheep was a blessing year for me, that night Emma and her husband Peter gave me a red envelope, as if I were a child. The fact of receiving a red envelope and the meaning behind it, made my stay in Taiwan unforgettable! Knowing that Emma and Peter took me as one of them. I know that the way that I see them as my Taiwanese parents, they also see me as their Guatemalan daughter. 

I am very grateful having been able to meet because I know that without them my experience of Taiwanese culture would have been very different.