Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: youth
Monday, 05 November 2012 16:27

Langus Lavalian Crossing the Kuroshio into the Skies of the Southern Cross

In mid April of 2012, I joined FISION International Exchange—The Aboriginal Youth New Vision Team—and embarked on an adventure that was to take me away from the limitations and constraints of my native Taiwan. Only a few of my teammates were members from my student club at school, most were fresh new faces.

Monday, 16 April 2012 00:00

Pinti Zheng discusses her movie 'Deflower'

After releasing the trailer of her last film, Pinti shares with us her experiences when showing her movie in theaters and art festivals in France and in Korea.

Thursday, 01 March 2012 16:27

Youth Design a New Future for Themselves.

‘Youth Design’ is a project of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare (TAAYRW), set up to provide foundational work skills and professional design training, allowing young people to familiarize themselves with design related jobs, and helping them to accumulate work experience, to successfully orientate themselves in the job market, and to develop their skills.

Senior project manager Hong Xiaoping explained, "It’s mostly design classes, for one hundred hours, work ethics, financial management and work shadow, to understand the nature of the work in the design and printing industries. Including classes on CV writing and team-work, allowing students to understand that having talent alone is not enough.

Opportunities for internships are also available depending on your CV and on mock interviews, as a means of pairing off placements and interns. Students submit their CV themselves, and have a choice of 2 or 3 companies. The internship allowance is provided my TAAYRW."

Hong Xiaoping told us that often companies question the value of having young people who have given up on their studies and have no professional background interning at their workplaces.Many firms discover that these young people have a lot more potential than they had imagined, although they often find they have to adjust their methods and preconceived ideas when dealing with them. Young people nowadays tend to question everything, and don’t like being bossed about. Once they are clear on the purpose of what they are doing, and they know its significance, they are willing to go and do it.


We also interviewed the Secretary General of the TAAYRW, Yeh Dahwa, and asked her to explain the idea behind the ‘YouthDesign’ project.

TAAYRW was founded eight and a half years ago, with the primary aim of changing the stereotypical idea within society that the youth are ‘dependent’, and instead to portray them as ‘citizens-in-the-making’. We promote rights including for welfare protection, public participation, recreation, health, education, and employment.

Society needs to see the changes that ordinary young people are going through, on the cusp of becoming mature citizens of society, and this needs to be supported by society, in terms of families, communities and educational institutions, and foster an atmosphere of social participation, citizenship and a safety net for those who fall into poverty.

When looking at the development of young people, you can’t just look at the situation from one angle, like focusing on those who come from under privileged backgrounds, or on the school entry system

The mainstream test-focused system.

Approximately 90% of young people make their life choices within the frame of the test-focused system, they are restricted by this system of values. If they don’t get into a good school or get good grades, their value to society diminishes, to the point that some of them might not even be considered people. Moreover, whenever there is any activity that contradicts this mainstream ideology appears, it is quickly blown out of proportion by the media, and becomes so-called deviant or antisocial behavior.

The question is, are the resources and choices offered by society enough? Everybody is forced to take the same path, but some people from different backgrounds are not suitable to follow this mainstream path, yet they are still constrained by it.

If the mainstream education system continues to bread people who are just good at pursuing good grades, then it will suppress the emergence of many kinds of creative talent, who will have to rely solely on their own effort, without support. For example a lot of people only have the chance to realize their talent abroad, why don’t we cultivate this kind of talent in Taiwan? The education policy focuses on collecting what is already a finished product, instead of nurturing new talent, it is very short-sighted.

There needs to be some planning ahead when it comes to policy. For example, if someone enjoys painting and creative work, how can we help them become a designer or someone involved in creative activities. This process cannot be achieved in one go, but rather needs to be cumulative. With this in mind, we hope that through or training project “Good Design”, we can let people know that the talent training that the Taiwanese government often mentions needs to be a cumulative, top-bottom process. It requires consideration from the business point of view, and investment from the education aspect. Moreover, it should support people before they have made a name for themselves.

Shattering some myths

A lot of people believe young people are part of “The strawberry generation” (Taiwanese term for those born between 1980-90, that were raised well off), that they are not good at dealing with pressure, that they are cold towards society. But why do people have to use this label? If people did a bit of research and widened their horizons before attaching these kind of labels, then these kinds of terms wouldn’t even exist.

We have seen a lot of employers who are interested in making use of young people’s energy, passion, and creativity. But they are scared because of the stereotypes they often see in the media, such as young people being hard to control or egocentric, so the first time they employ a young person they are usually wary. We feel that our organizations activities and accomplishments have become very important. We have invited a careers coach to serve as a bridge, helping companies and employers understand how to interact with young people. We hope that through these training activities, we can make people understand a lot of these young people are not “strawberries”; they work very hard and very seriously at their jobs, but this hard effort is not reported by the media.

Translated from the Chinese by Daniel Pagan Murphy, Conor Stuart

Chen Jiajun, the girl who participated in "Youth design" program tells us her story...

Li Xin, one of the participants of "Youth Design" shares her experiences studying in Taiwan and Denmark, and her determination to work in the art field, and how the project enabled her in this goal:


Friday, 24 February 2012 13:39

Navigating your 20's in Taiwan

In 2010, Taiwan had the lowest fertility rate of any country ever. With such a low amount of births, what are the expectations of the youth towards marriage? How has this trend affected the choice between career and family? We aim to find out the answers to these questions with our focus this month, which tries to tackle the thoughts and issues of Formosan youth from many different angles.

The first subject we tackle is that of marriage. Here, we have a variety of different opinions. There is the Chinese teacher in her late twenties who wants to focus on her career until it is established before contemplating marriage. Her view on delaying marriage is also supported by a masters student who believes it is too expensive to get married and have children for the youth of today. Also related to the marriage situation are our articles regarding the declining birth rate in Taiwan. We learn some reasons for the low birth rate here, and we also discover that the problem may not be as dramatic as the media would have us believe.

Our other main topic is the job and university situation of young people and the challenges that they may find pursuing their dreams. Two students, one from a restrictive all-girls school background, and one a student come to the big city from the South, will share with us their different university experiences and how they have transformed their lives, in addition to expressing their hopes and aspirations for life after graduation. We will also hear from people working in different jobs, such as the content tarot reader, and a struggling actor. They will each share their opinions about family expectations and pressures from society and the difficulty meeting them when doing a rewarding, but not necessarily well-paid job.


Photo by Wesley He

Tuesday, 17 January 2012 18:56

Studying or working: a choice always to be renewed

Is it better to further one’s study or to immerse oneself in a job? This question often haunts the new graduate. On the one hand, they are thrilled by the opportunities that their freshly acquired diploma brings with it: entering adulthood, earning an income, testing their skills at something concrete, exercising responsibilities, even if such responsibilities are modest in scope… On the other hand, they realize that they do not know much yet, that they may earn a bigger salary within a few years if they master extra knowledge and become more competent, that holding a job might soon appear to her more boring or stressful than remaining a student…  Deciding between Present and Future, between different kinds of gains and losses, and between different lifestyles is never easy, and can generate a lot of anxiety.

The new graduate may be comforted by a few thoughts:

-  First, this choice is much less final and binding than was the case in the past. Today, there are a variety of bridges that allow one to go from study to work and from work to throughout one’s professional path. Therefore, it is practical and beneficial to keep one’s intellectual curiosity always intact, and to remain ready to sacrifice one’s immediate interest at some point in order to re-enter the path of study and research.

- Work can reactivate one’s thirst for knowledge and investigation. Often, students lose interest in knowledge and research because of the way they were taught in high school or in university. Their drive towards practical and intellectual knowledge is reactivated through the problems and challenges they meet in real life: the very fact of being surrounded by technical wonders, complex social mechanisms, injustices and moral dilemmas makes one formulate anew questions that have been agitating the human mind since it undertook to both understand and master the world (while doing so through very diverse knowledge systems…).

-  New graduates may also be somehow comforted by the fact of knowing that finding the balance between study and work is a problem that plagues everyone until very late in life – till the end maybe: “Is it better for me to invest my energies into doing what I know I can do, and thus to be of immediate help to the people I care for and my family – or should I challenge myself to once again embark on the road of professional and intellectual improvement? And should I not chose to study and research just out of gratuitousness, whatever the advantages that come out of it?” Fortunately, the choice is not always so drastic, and professional life may offer time and resources for learning the trade and embarking on a progressive program of study.

So, finally, how is one to decide when confronted with such a choice? Basically, ask yourself how you feel about it. Is there in your heart a strong longing to go ahead on the road towards knowledge and research? Or does the idea of becoming someone active in society and receiving recognition for what you do reveal itself to be the most appealing choice for you right now?  If you can answer this question peacefully and without too much hesitation, just follow the desire of your heart. If not… let the answer formulate itself within your inner self. It will do so naturally, if you can avoid to be too overtly anguished by it. But always remember: when working, protect and nurture the flame of intellectual curiosity. When studying, do not close yourself in an ivory tower, and remain burnt by the desire to share with others what you are researching. And do remain aware that life will often renew the challenge, and will ask you again and again to come up with your own answer…

Illustration by Bendu

Friday, 13 January 2012 12:23

University Life: Freedom or Responsibility?

University students Lisa Lo and Yu-Tang Hou (侯昱堂) tell us about their feelings and impressions on university life in the following two videos. They represent the youth of Taiwan, and have both had very different university experiences, but both agree that university is a place where one can simultaneously feel more mature but still enjoy the carefree hapiness of youth.

Lisa is a student of Graphic Communication at National Taiwan Normal University. She comes from Taipei and has found in university a sense of freedom and emancipation, in addition to an opportunity to meet lots of new people from all walks of lfe, which had previously been difficult due to her all-girls school upbringing.

Monday, 14 November 2011 18:25

The Mission of This Generation

Change is in the Air, Twenty Golden Years

From the 1990s, the concept of multiculturalism gradually took shape, as Taiwan amended its constitution and underwent social changes. 1996 saw the establishment of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, in accordance with the constitution, and with an integrated administrative body, which led progressively to the formation of a legal and political framework for indigenous peoples.

To those of us in our fifties and sixties, maintaining our indigenous cultural practices was an important responsibility, as we had experienced tribal life, had attended traditional rituals and could still talk to the elder generation in our native tongues. I absorbed myself in aboriginal literature, as well as investigating and translating traditional indigenous rites, taking advantage of my own reserves of knowledge on traditional practices, in the hope of preserving it for the indigenous peoples to come in the next 50 years. It was my fervent wish that aboriginal children 50 years from now would be different from my generation, struggling to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors due to a lack of information about their past.

Lighting the Kindling to Weld a New Perspective on the World

The organization of the 'Taiwan Indigenous Students Cultural Exchange Program' was an experimental attempt to encourage younger people to better themselves. The program was aimed essentially at broadening the horizons of young aboriginal people, meeting with people with a similar historical experience to us, and allowing for comparison of policy and strategies that perhaps Taiwan can learn from, as well as sharing the unique innovations that we have to offer the world. The program was planned over the course of the last few years in cooperation with other bodies, but the result was not quite what aboriginal youths had hoped for, therefore, this year the program was changed substantially, the students themselves put forth a proposal, and designed their own agenda for the visit, with groups formed from different schools.

This was a breakthrough, on the one hand it increased the participation of the young people in the program, and on the other it made them responsible for their own choices. The advocacy and responsibility of participants had to be balanced somewhat, as young people tend to plan that which they are used to, so we couldn't expect them to come back with a broader global perspective in that instance.

Ploughing Deeply, to Cultivate Cultural Soil

A lot of problems are often not simply indigenous problems. Indigenous industry is an example of this; it doesn't function in and of itself, but rather follows mainstream society. It is perhaps possible to think outside the box on this issue, and hand over responsibility for conservation and forestry over to indigenous peoples. If there was a budgetary consideration to train indigenous peoples to change the focus of their industries to conservation and forestry, restoring stability to the environment, then this would be, at least from the aboriginal point of view, a great step forward.

If these principles were to be clearly adhered to, indigenous industry, in terms of ecology, culture and existentialist concerns, would be greatly benefitted. We have to find certain industries which would engage in dialogue with contemporary society and not just doggedly attempt to keep up with mainstream culture. I believe this is the right path.

By Ta-Chuan Sun, edited by Raining Be, translated from the Chinese by Conor Stuart
Photo by Yuanxi Chuang

Video filmed by Yuanxi Chuang, edited by Nicholas Coulson, subtitled by Conor Stuart

For readers in Mainland China:


Monday, 24 October 2011 00:00

Occupy Taipei

Following on from the 'Occupy Wall Street' demonstrations in New York, on October 15th protesters in Taipei gathered around the phallic symbol of Taiwanese capitalism, the Taipei 101 building, to voice their opinion on several issues, including high unemployment, inflated house prices, unpaid overtime, the rights of immigrant workers as well as showing solidarity with the global movement to resist or bring down the excesses of the capitalist hegemony and move towards a fairer society. Watch interviews with some participants below:

Monday, 26 September 2011 19:27

CEFC Files: The identity kaleidoscope of the first 'Taiwanese' generation

Dr. Tanguy Lepesant is an assistant professor at the National Central University, Chongli and a visiting researcher at CEFC Taipei. As part of our series of interviews with the team of researchers at CEFC Taipei,  Tanguy talked to us about his research on national and ethnic identity and nationalism of young Taiwanese born in the 1980's.Tanguy first came to Taiwan in 1997 when he was posted to the French Institute for 9 months, where as a political science doctoral candidate he quickly became interested in the political situation in Taiwan and changed his directions of study towards questions of Taiwanese identity and nation building. Tanguy chose to do his fieldwork on young Taiwanese born in the 80's as he felt they could form a "political and social generation" because they had been "socialised in a very different context to their parents". Here he introduces his research:

Monday, 23 May 2011 17:15

Music and Movements: God Save the Rave

Gon-Li She (共力社), meaning community power group, started off as a group of friends in the Punk music scene.  Through the mediums of Punk and electronic music, they try to provide a release for an angry, alienated youth and to further channel this mood into social change organizing music events to support social movements and demonstrations. Willy Chen calls Gon-li She is "an organisation of empowerment."

Following the Fukishima nuclear disaster in Japan, Gon-li She collaborated with NoNukes to organise a VJ, DJ combination rave, as a precursor a week before they brought the Rock truck and the Electro truck to the bigger 4/30 anti-nuclear demonstrations in Taipei. Willy Chen tells us more:

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Photo: N.C.

Download their e-zine magazine for free here (text in Chinese)

Thursday, 24 February 2011 16:45

Let's 'SayTaiwan'

The build-up to ROC Taiwan's "International Youth Week - Centennial Homestay" has begun, with SayTaiwan calling for 250 participants from over one hundred countries, for this one off opportunity to experience the various colours and moods of this beautiful island. For the event that will be held over 12th-25th August, applicants are encouraged to send an optional video, 3-5 minutes in length, introducing themselves, along with the relevant documents before April 15th 2011.

In the Taiwanese dialect Seh-daiwan (遊台灣) means 'wander Taiwan'. SayTaiwan aims to promote Taiwan abroad, by giving these lucky individuals the chance to see for themselves what a beautiful, friendly and safe place Taiwan is. The winning participants will live with local families in different areas of lucky visitor will even get the opportunity to run in the park with Vice Premier Chen and his beloved dog. Asides from home staying with local families, the participants will be expected to report about their experiences in Taiwan through blogs, social networking and other internet mediums. Finally all the participants will travel to the very fringe of Taiwan, as they visit Kinmen Island, home of Taiwan's favourite sorghum wine - Kinmen Kaoliang - and just two kilometres from mainland China. There they will attend the "ROC Centennial Peace Day in Kinmen" and a farewell banquet.

During the opening press conference, journalists, government officials and some foreign guests were treated to a unique and lively Taiwanese dance performance. Afterwards Jasmine Brown, a Belizean student at National Taiwan Normal University, the home of the biggest Mandarin language centre in Taiwan, was asked to give her thoughts on Taiwan. "Taiwan is a beautiful country" she replied, before throwing praise on how "extremely safe" and "convenient" Taiwan was for her regular 3am journeys to convenience stores and fast food joints. She also expressed gratitude for how "friendly and helpful" the people on Taiwan were, giving a personal example:

"My little brother came to visit me in Taipei, and on his way back to Taipei from Tainan, he forgot his wallet in the Taxi. So he went back to Tainan and then he realised he didn't have his wallet. The taxi driver took his wallet to the police station and the police officer found his ID card from the Taekwondo teacher that my brother has. The Taekwondo teacher called and told my little brother that the card was safely back in Taipei. In any other country your wallet would be gone, but not in Taipei."

saytaiwan2But Taiwan is more than midnight snacking, Yoyo cards and metropolitan safe havens. Indeed there is much that the world can learn from Taiwan. It is one of the most advanced technology hubs in the world, uniquely positioned to share its culture and society through Asia and the Pacific; its demographic landscape is a sea of diversity, with over ten languages still spoken in Taiwan, even more native ethnic groups, and  very healthy Austronesian, Hakka and Chinese arts scenes all coexisting harmoniously together; finally, it is the home of bubble or pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶), a fact not lost on those who received their own bubble tea as a leaving present. Taiwan also has much to learn from the rest of the world and will greatly look forward to the stories and experiences of their visiting friends.

For those interested in the project you can apply from the beginning of March 2011, until April 15th, 2011. More information here or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

Published in
Focus: SayTaiwan

Monday, 23 June 2008 19:43

Being cool

When I was growing up, “cool” meant that the temperature was somewhere in the comfortable range between the bottom of warm and the upper reaches of cold. It still means that in talking about the weather and temperature with an extension to colors like blue green and violet that produce the feeling of coolness and keeping calm with a cool head and giving something or someone a cool reception expressing indifference, disdain or dislike.

But nowadays the young particularly have appropriated the word to themselves. Things or people are cool if they conform to one’s expectations, are agreeable to one’s standards. “That’s cool” or “you’re cool, man.” Or something is excellent or first rate like a cool sports car. As a verb it means to calm down and relax or even slow down or stop altogether what you are doing: “cool it.”

As a slang expression “cool” is rather egocentric. Those within one’s own circle of approval are cool, while others are not. The young and their values are cool; grownups with their old fashioned ideas and practices are not. Neither side understands or trusts the other. Communication is difficult because their idioms and standards are different. Adults want the young to grow up and be like them. The young resist assimilation because they are put off by the apparent contradictions and hypocrisy they seem to find in much of adult social, political and moral behavior.

There has always been a tension between the growing up and the already grown up. But up to a few generations ago relations were relatively quiet. Children were to be “seen and not heard.” It was their role to play among themselves, go to school and study hard or in some societies work in the fields or early begin an apprenticeship or training or labor in a workshop. There were, of course, varying degrees of intimacy between a child and parents depending on culture and personality, but for the most part there was little communication with elders other than listening to their instructions and following their directions. It was generally out of place to speak out or complain or offer one’s own opinions. That’s just the way things were, so one just accepted one’s lot. There was little incentive or expectation of success in rebelling. There was little if any contact with children in other places or even between children in the same place of different classes and no communication or exchange of ideas.

As compulsory education became more universal and schools opened their doors to children of all classes and cultural backgrounds, children began to see that their particular ways of living and understanding were not the only way. This opening of their eyes was accelerated by the advent of movies and radio and the phonograph. Soon there was a whole range of popular songs and singers who especially catered to the young audience. It became fashionable to imitate the hair styles and clothes of movie stars and singers. Most parents had little time to watch movies, disliked the popular music and the hairstyles and clothing fads which often put them on collision courses with their children, who began to question and disagree with a much wider range of parental beliefs and behavior. Parents, of course, were very disturbed and wanted their children to avoid the break away rebellious hippie movement and were alarmed about the easy availability of drugs and pornography, but even when these were not an issue there was a growing rift between parents and offspring as the gaps between each generation’s values, interests and expectations grew.

Then came the Vietnam War. It wasn’t only the young people who questioned the legitimacy of the war or objected to the way it was being waged and the tragic loss of life both of soldiers and civilians and the widespread destruction of the countryside for decades to come, but these things seemed to unite the youth especially and moved them to very vocal criticism of those promoting and defending the war. From that time on, our young people have remained skeptical of their government’s policies and practices, critical of how their elders run their businesses and shown greater concern for the plights of the poor and oppressed and the problems of pollution, ecology and conservation of the earth’s resources.

What does all this have to do with being cool?
It’s cool to espouse justice and honesty.

It’s cool to patiently confront problems and enter into communication and discussion with those responsible for the problems and those responsible for solving them.

It’s cool to cooperate in carrying out group decisions even when they are not what one voted for.

It’s cool to listen respectfully to what others have to say, especially those who are close to you.

It’s cool to be able to express what you believe and do what interests you.

It’s cool to listen respectfully to those who aren’t cool.

It’s cool for parents to listen to their children and give them leeway to be different.

If you are not cool in the presence of the cool, then put on a warm sweater and listen to what they have to say and translate what you want to say into language the cool will understand and respect.

If you are not cool in the presence of someone not cool, then heat up the tone of what you say and do, lest you freeze shut their ears or make them so uncomfortable that they will turn against you.

It’s cool to be cool so long as you don’t hate or avoid or look down on those who aren’t cool.

It’s also cool not to be cool if you aren’t cool so long as you don’t turnoff or alienate those who are cool.

It’s cool to be cool and cool not to be cool toward those who are not cool.

It’s cool not to be cool so long as you are not cool toward those who are cool.

If those who are cool are willing to warm up a bit toward those who are not cool and those who are not cool are willing to tone down a bit their reservations and antagonism toward those who are cool, then the temperature will be just right for both sides to sit down together in an atmosphere congenial to both. “And that’s cool, baby!”

Published in
Focus: Living Together

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