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42. The most touching experience of Taiwanese hospitality

The Taiwanese hospitality is as vast and exquisite as the country’s abundant adventure landscape. The beautiful scenery across the country, that has attracted scores of travelers, can be likened to the warm-heartedness, generosity and friendly demeanor of the Taiwanese people. In the two years I have been a guest at National Yang Ming University, I wouldn't have asked for a more hospitality than I have enjoyed. In this essay, therefore, I try to relate one of the countless experiences of Taiwanese hospitality that has really touched my heart.

First, allow me to begin my account by introducing my two passions, education and football. The thirsty of education brought me to Taiwan where, coincidentally, I enrolled into a school of not only fervid academicians but also souls so avid for sport and health. This environment was always going to be favorable for me as it offered a package of the things I value the most. The hospitality that came with the two was a cherry on top of the delicious cake.

It is actually a bit hard to tell a single story about my experiences of Taiwanese hospitality, because I have plenty of experience to share. I think most of Taiwanese people are extremely kind to foreigners. Maybe not all of them will just meet you and invite you at their homes and share a dish with you, but generally speaking, they are usually willing and happy to welcome their foreigner friends or friends of their children in their house and to have a joyful time with them.

In my country, I also like to treat my friends and foreigners as my 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. So I had time to know more Taiwanese people and not only in Taipei where I live but also in peripheral cities. I actually have a good local Taiwanese friend, her name is Kale and she is an indigenous girl (from Paiwan tribe). We are studying in the same University (National Yang-Ming University) and she always talked to me about her tribe, how lovely and welcoming there are. Therefore, she invited me to come and visit her home town in one Village in Taidong. We then arranged a weekend to go there together.

From the moment I stepped into the lobby of the Office of International Affairs at National Yang Ming University I was immediately welcomed by a vivacious call of my name and a warm embrace from my assigned Taiwan buddy. Her name is Peggy, from the county of Hualien in Taiwan and she is a medical student at NYMU. Although the university’s Taiwan buddy volunteers were usually required to assist international students in only the initial two months of our arrival to Taiwan, Peggy maintained contact with me even after that and throughout my time here. Soon our international volunteer contact with each other flourished into a more grounded friendship because Peggy made certain that I felt comfortable in her country.

Every Tuesdays, Peggy made it routine for us to meet up at different local restaurants to have dinner. I very much enjoyed this, because I not only got to savor Taiwan’s delicious cuisine but I also got to meet the amiable restaurant owners who were very welcoming and thrilled to have foreigners dine at their venue. From the local cuisines I sampled noodles, tofu soup, red bean soup, stir-fried vegetables, sweet dessert tofu and refreshing fruit juices and black tea, all of which became pleasingly addictive food and drinks.

My name is Basiru Drammeh and my Chinese name is Baqinou. I am a Gambian pursuing Masters in International Nursing at National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The most touching experience of Taiwan hospitality was felt and seen by me during my practical field experience in the year 2015. This was one month field experience and various settings such as health centers, hospitals, schools and community were visited during this period.  Of course during this field experience we were all the time  with our able and friendly lecturers and project manager. The place where I felt the hospitality most was at Psychiatric  Hospital and in the community.

The first phase of the field experience was at Taipei City Hospital (Shongde Branch).  This hospital was founded in 1969 and was the first psychiatric teaching hospital in Taiwan. It has four campuses with bed capacity of 1113.Upon arrival at this center, we were warmly welcomed by one of the head nurses who introduced us to the geography of the hospital. Power point presentation was later done by one the staff. After the presentation, we were handed some gifts which surprised everyone of us.

Taiwan officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a sovereign state in East Asia.Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with a population density of 648 people per km² in March 2015.The island of Taiwan (formerly known as "Formosa") was mainly inhabited by Taiwanese aborigines until the Dutch and Spanish settlement during the Age of Discovery in the 17th century, when Han Chinese began immigrating to the island.

During the latter half of the 20th century, Taiwan experienced rapid economic growth and industrialization and is now an advanced industrial economy. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Taiwan evolved into a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage. Taiwan is one of the Four Asian Tigers and a member of the WTO and APEC. The 21st-largest economy in the world, its high-tech industry plays a key role in the global economy. Taiwan is ranked highly in terms of freedom of the press, health care, public education, economic freedom, and human development.

I study in Taiwan since October, 2014, what has impressed me most is the people. Because of the advancements in economy, health and education in past decades, the people in Taiwan in general appear outwardly healthy, well-groomed and tastefully dressed, as well as possess such good qualities as politeness, law-abidance and a love of helping each others. Where ever you visit in Taiwan, you will feel satisfied and feel safe because of Taiwanese hospitality.

For winter vacation my friend and I decided to get to know Taiwan the “ole fashion way” – up close and personal! So we prepared to embark on a little cycling trip around Taiwan. In a cold night, two in the morning in February, our journey began. We decided to start at night so there would be less traffic when coming out of the big city of Taipei.

An average ride though the city would take about an hour during the day, but that night it only took 20 minutes. Near the outskirts of Taipei the moonlight was slowly but surely vanquished, as the sky grew darker with clouds. The clouds eventually gave way to soft rain initially but in a flash, it was pouring heavy! This is where we encountered our first instance of compassion from a random person, in a convenience store. When we went in the store he was so nice to give us paper towels to dry off and hot beverages.

My name is Karamo Kanagi, I am from the smiling coast of West Africa, The Gambia. I am pursuing my master's degree in Information Systems and Application at National Tsing Hua University. Before coming to Taiwan I did not know much about Taiwan and don't know what to expect. So I did my little research about the life and the people of Taiwan.  Luckily, I have some friends who have been in Taiwan for study and they told me about some amazing things about Taiwan and its people.

From the moment I landed on this beautiful island, I was deeply touched by the friendliness and hospitality of the Taiwanese people. It started with the taxi driver who took me from the airport to my university. We were having a conversation with the little English that he can speak until I arrived at my university.  I was warmly welcome by our program managers and members of the TFAA in Tsing Hua University. They treat me so well that I did not get the feeling that am in a foreign country, I feel like am still at home. At first I think all the kind and loving Taiwanese people are only found at the university level (NTHU) but when I went outside, it is the same hospitality I received from others as well. I said to myself, I now believe everything what my friends told me about the hospitality of the Taiwanese.

Almost about to finish an amazing cycle of my life here in Taiwan I have the chance to write about one of the most commented aspects of the Taiwanese: their hospitality. I come from Nicaragua, which is country famous for the warmth and friendliness of its people, so at the beginning I thought everyone in Taiwan will be somewhat shy, especially towards foreigners. While this might be true in some cases I have learned an important lesson: beyond the language barriers and cultural differences, kindness and hospitality transcend and reach us thought the simplest actions of our everyday life. This is the reason why I find difficult to just narrow down everything to one single touching experience.

When I had just a couple of months living in Taiwan, a famous holiday was about to start: the Moon Festival or Mid-autumn festival (中秋節). At that time I was not very familiar with the local holidays so for me, it seemed like another normal day until one of my classmates, 周瑞貞 (Christine), invited me to spend the day with her family. This was a great opportunity to experience how many families celebrate the Moon Festival. Despite my difficulty to communicate, everyone made me feel part of the event, including their neighbors. We cooked and ate lots of food, all made on the barbecue grill that, even not being historically traditional, has transformed into an opportunity that allows families to spend some quality time together, some of which I was lucky to share too.

When I came to Taiwan almost two years ago, I was captivated by the Chinese Culture, I immediately felt respect for their family traditions and philosophy of life. From the Buddhists to the Taoists, Confucius to Lao Tzu, you can appreciate many waves of thought living in harmony, everywhere is an opportunity to learn rich wisdom and practice kindness with Taiwanese people.

My two major goals in Taiwan were to graduate from Master in business and learn Chinese language. I knew learning to speak Chinese was the pillar for communication, and culture lived in it. While studying master and Chinese I also integrated to a couple of the university’s sport clubs to experience the local team spirit. I had the privilege to interact with many Taiwanese classmates of different ages, and diverse qualities. Amid all of them I perceived the same warmth in their voices, especially when we spoke Chinese, their words vibrated goodness.

A few weeks ago, I was walking with a professor towards his office talking about Taiwan and its people. He mentioned that Taiwanese people are known for their hospitality. Of course, he is not only taking about the 7-11 cashiers who greet and welcome me every time I go in and out. Or the one bus driver in NTHU who takes its time to reply to every "thank you" he gets from students when they get off the bus. Or how my language exchange partner gave me Taiwanese pastries after meeting only once. Or how the lady of the zhua bing restaurant compliments my growing command of the mandarin language. Or how they type the total order amount in their calculators for me to understand. Or how sometimes a total stranger will translate to English whatever the cashier is saying. Yes, Taiwanese people are kind and welcoming.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it but only because we are afraid of each other: the westerner and its habits may conflict with Taiwan´s culture and vice versa. But in my 9 months in this wonderful country, I can testify of their hospitality and welcoming attitude. In fact, just recently I experienced that welcoming attitude of the Taiwanese people.