Jose Rafael Nunez Collado1

  1. International Master Program in Environmental Sustainable Development. National Central University.


I have studied and experienced earthquakes for a long time. I understand their nature, their force, and their effects and unfortunately I have experienced more of them than I would like to recall. Yet due to all those reasons, I am even more afraid of them. However I had forgotten about them since I moved to Taiwan, and then the Tainan Earthquake happened…

The Tainan earthquake in February 2016 was my first in Taiwan. Since then the scary feeling have come back to me, and even in my classes here at NCU I have been re- remained of it by re- studying earthquakes.

When the earthquake happened I didn’t feel it. In the north of Taiwan, where I live, the earthquake wasn’t as strong. Plus also I was sleeping when it happened. I woke up and went on to Facebook and found out about the news. At first I thought it was something small, because I haven’t received any calls, I didn’t hear any alarms and nobody around me was talking about it. Then I started reading more and more and discover how strong it was. It broke my heart to see how that a lot of people, even 8 hours after the event, where still trapped under concrete broken walls. I just imagined my family going through that and it made me tear up. After that my mother and family stared calling me to find out if I was ok, that’s when I knew the news as worldwide.

I studied architecture in college in the Dominican Republic.  The combination of my major and my country’s location created a perfect combination for me to be involved in researching about earthquakes and how to design buildings to resist them. Now I am back at it in Taiwan.

My country is very vulnerable to earthquakes, as evidenced by the 2004 earthquake that affected the Island that we share with Haiti and killed over 220,000 people on the Haitian side. My first earthquake experience in Taiwan brought me back to understand their consequences and how that force can destroy families, cities and make a country united in sadness. 

At the same time, as architects, we are always concerned about unpredictable forces of nature that can put in risk the stability of the buildings we design and with that put in risk the life of the people who live or work in them. We have a lot of control methods and codes to follow for this. And all of those have to be studied in depth. And that’s a task I have taken very seriously.  And my first earthquake experience in Taiwan was a remainder of all that.

However with sadness also comes a feeling of togetherness. In fact the people in Taiwan showed their solidarity with their Tainan friends by donating and also by creating the feeling of a unified country evidenced by the use of the hashtag #TaiwanStrong. And in fact, Taiwan showed their strength as a country with their solidarity and fraternity after this sad event. #TaiwanStrong are words we use usually when something bad happens. However it can inspire patriotism and solidarity making the country stronger, and that’s a power as stronger than any law.

To summarize, my experience with earthquakes involve studying them to design buildings that can resist them. It’s a big responsibility. And it’s scary. I don’t think I will be able to surpass the fear of earthquakes. I think the fear makes me more alert of them. Lately a few small ones have occurred in Taiwan and I have felt most of them accentuating this feeling. I am not certain what the future will bring in terms of earthquakes, however trying to prevent them is a good first step, and Taiwan is doing that a lot according to my professors. Taiwan will continue to thrive and my first earthquake experience showed me how strong Taiwan really is.  #TaiwanStrong.


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