Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: travel
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 14:29

Returning from Abroad

The artists in this section have all been inspired in their work by travels or study abroad. Tpcat spent several years in England, where she started to re-evaluate the role of religion in society and gained an insight into the cultural divide between 'East' and 'West'. Iron tells of his return to Taiwan after a sustained period abroad, and how some of his manga is based on the Taiwanese ex-pat community in Shanghai. LI Lung-Chieh describes how a trip to cambodia gave him a new perspective on the different problems people face, those that are more basic 'animal' problems, like feeding oneself and surviving and the more 'human' problems, like creative freedom, self-expression and the pursuit of happiness, all of which inspired his manga RoachGirl.

“For me, comic books are the best tool for telling stories”

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Tpcat is very passionate about drawing and comic books. Her specialty is depicting all sorts of small furry animals. She studied graphic design in a Taiwanese university, before getting a Masters in illustration from Kingston University in England. In order to make a living, she spent the next two years showing her work in different comic book Expos around England; she also had a stand in the Brick Lane market where she sold her comic books. Tpcat’s style is completely different from that of other members of the new generation of Taiwanese authors. She doesn’t follow the Japanese ACG (animation-comic-game) style, but rather takes her inspiration from England, with a style rich in details. Whilst her illustrations are certainly very cutesy, the content is much deeper than most of the other comic books that are popular nowadays. Tpcat is a specialized author swimming against the tide.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here

“The intrinsic purpose of comics is to tell stories. I believe it is our duty to draw comics and tell stories to each other. It is a simple reciprocated duty between individuals. If I still had faith in anything in this life, it would be in this.”

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Iron, whose real name is CHO Yi-pin, was born in Taizhong, in the centre of Taiwan. He graduated from the design institute of the National Science and Technology University of Taiwan. His talent was revealed in 1995, when he won the Gold prize in a comic contest organized by China Times newspaper. In 1998 he started to publish his comic book series Nezha in the magazine Dragon Youth. Nezha has also been compiled into a book. This comic, halfway between a mysterious world and a dark style of drawing, is a perfect example of Iron’s creative style. In the last two years, Iron has participated in the publication of the TX (Taiwan Comix) compilation, which showcases a new creative style, free and independent. Iron currently lives in Shanghai.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here

“ I believe that one day, thanks to comic books, even bald people will be beautiful.”

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LI Lung-Chieh is a discrete, mysterious and melancholy illustrator. He graduated from the department of interior architecture of Shih Chien University. In 1998 he won the award for the best first creation from the Ching Win comic books contest, thanks to his story The white gun. In the next few years, he won in the Ching Win contest again in addition to the Dong Li contest which he won in its third, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth editions., after which he started publishing his short comics. His first individual work, Roachgirl (the cockroach woman), was edited after he won the first prize from the GIO in 2008. In 2010, he self-published Animal Impact, which was chosen for the Golden Comc Awards in the category of youth comics, and then participated in 2011 in the International Comic Book Competition of Algeria.

Readers in Mainland China can watch here

Monday, 21 November 2011 18:16

Bringing Home the Seeds of Indigenous Autonomy

The Council of Indigenous Peoples held the 13th Taiwan Indigenous Students Cultural Exchange Program (TISCEP) this year. The destination was the Vancouver region in Canada's most western province - British Columbia. eRenlai's mother organisation, the Taipei Ricci Institute was the organising committee. In contrast with previous years, the students had a more central role, submitting a proposal for the goals and program of the exchange trip. In eRenlai's December Focus we will bring you accounts of the trip from the students who took part, along with a mini-documentary in eight parts, which documents their journey from start to finish..

We begin with an interview with the director of the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP), Ta-chuan Sun, in which he expresses the need for reform of Indigenous cultural industries, and sets out a mission for future generations of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Responding to the CIP's call for applications, thirteen Indigenous students from Taiwan came together as a team in a quest for knowledge and experience that could be used to improve the situation of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. As they prepared to fly into an unknown world, the students were full of anticipation, nervousness and gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity, which would hopefully lay the foundations for a new chapter in the history of their peoples.

The students divided themselves into four groups, each tasked with engaging with an issue of great importance to aboriginal people: Autonomy, Health, Education and Media & Cultural Enterprise. Insights into these four issues allowed them to focus on various aspects of the decision-making processes behind policy formation, social engagement and cultural heritage. Each group was tasked with engaging with various organisations they would be visiting in Canada, in an effort to glean as much knowledge as possible from the short trip. Canada is often considered a world leader when it comes to dealing with indigenous affairs and there are over two hundred First Nation's tribes and 37 languages in British Columbia alone, making Canada an ideal place to learn about the interaction between governments, settlers and indigenous peoples.

The team was taken into an unknown world in their quest for knowledge, experience and identity - the seeds of indigenous autonomy - to bring home to Taiwan. The students explored indigenous studies and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia's Aboriginal House of Learning; at the same university's Department of Anthropology, Dr Bruce Miller talked about the practice and process of achieving autonomy from nothing; furthermore, the students were introduced to an array of new perspectives on Aboriginal health research at the University of Victoria. Visiting successful examples of sustainable tourism that incorporated traditional rituals, song and dance with natural beauty at the Aboriginal-themed Klahowya Village in Stanley Parkand the U'mista Cultural Centre, demonstrated to them the potential for development of indigenous cultural tourism and industry. Meanwhile, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC made evident to the students the importance of preserving their cultural heritage and protecting cultural relics. From their time spent at the Victoria Aboriginal Friendship Centre, they took back home with them first-hand observations of how a charitable organisation could help urban Aborigines better cope with the transition from a First Nations reserve to urban life. Furthermore, during their trip toDuncan City Hall, Mayor Phil Kent and Councillor Joe Thorne honoured the students with a convivial welcoming before describing Duncan's intercommunity relations and experiments with participatory democracy at a local and federal level.

Piho Yuhaw, was one of the student leaders who was involved in writing the groups project proposal, here he gave his final thoughts on the exchange and his personal goals for the future:

"I think the East could learn from the West and its experiences with autonomy. The Eastern discourse views self-government as ‘seperationist’ or ‘splittist’, while in the West they see it as national or ethnic ‘self determination’. In the future, as an Indigenous scholar, I would like to reinterpret aboriginal cultural research through a new native lens. It will be a long and difficult road, but to quote Dr. Bruce Miller “The indigenous movement needs to be put into practice, even when you have nothing”. Looking at the indigenous struggle and indigenous empowerment from a historical perspective, something has always come from nothing - this is called practice."


Photo 1: Yubax Hayung
Photo 2: C. Phiv

Friday, 05 December 2008 00:00

Down With Zugunruhe

Aimless travelling has always been a fixation of mine. At the age of four and from my first toddler steps away from the land where I was born- small town Hualien, home to predominantly aboriginals in the East of Taiwan- I have been moving relentlessly and joyously, further and further away from my natal home. From a blissful childhood in the heart of Namibia, to colourful teenage years in the island countries of Singapore and New Zealand, I grew to be able to effortlessly adapt to diverse cultures and surroundings. My graduation from high school was followed by numerous years in Europe where the meaning of nomadism was taken to a whole new level.
Growing up in three different continents I have become incapable of passing more than two years in one place without the slightest hint of restlessness. Many friends I have made along the way have been puzzled by my avian migratory restlessness (or Zugunruhe as behaviourists would call it) and questioned if I lacked a sense of belonging. Years ago, my answer would’ve been a yes. Though faithful as I may be in keeping contact with people I care about, I’ve always found it difficult to leave all behind and start anew, particularly in my younger years, when networks of friends were formed and meant to linger till marriage and decades after.


You might also say, constant migration has disrupted my ‘train of life’. With each place I move to I left lifelong friends, but friendships that have endured nonetheless, and strayed further away from my roots. My apparent identity crisis has never occurred to me as problematic, yet it has distressed my parents. Why the sudden need to be subjected to a title of people, race, religion and nation when one was meant to be from all over? I had little memory of Taiwan and even less so of Oklahoma where I entered Kindergarten. With each place I discover, I would take on a befitting identity and consequently turning the previous one obsolete.


It leads me to ask: In the earliest days of the Palaeolithic era, hadn’t humans migrated endlessly? Be it voluntary or involuntary migration, anthropologist David Haines has described migration as a ‘vital part of society’, and especially crucial to the economy and the social future of America. I think his hypothesis might very well apply to everywhere else, though it is often an oversimplified challenge.


Travelling as recklessly as I have may not have all the positive markings of a swift path to early academic achievement, but it has taught me one of the most valuable lessons I can ever ask for: the inability to see the language and cultural barrier that separates the locals from the foreigners and the children of immigrants. In Southern Africa I sing and dance to the slow-tempo of kwaito beats, speak Afrikaans (albeit broken) and trudge through the lands of stark contrast. In Europe I live and breathe the languages and way of life, finding refuge on the squalid banks of Die Maas. In Northern Africa I let what Arabic dialect words I know roll off my tongue with ardour, and in Taiwan I stress each and every intonation of my newly regained Mandarin, chortling at my own mistakes and revelling in the moment.

Recently I have decided to make a detour of my pilgrimage, and found my feet set on the tar roads of Taipei, which I might add, appear to be constantly under construction. One wonders how long it might last before that irking feeling of Zugunruhe kicks in again.

Friday, 10 October 2008 00:00

How can Laotian mulberry trees help children?

Imagine me sipping a glass of homemade mulberry wine while sitting in the restaurant of Vangvieng Organic Farm (Laos) listening to Mr. Thi telling the history of this place.

Everything started in 1995, when Mr. Thi came back to his home town to make an old dream come true. After several years of working in NGOs and governmental departments, all related to natural resources, he finally set up his own farm.

But more than a farm, this place is more a community.

CelineGuillaume_LaotianFarm2At the beginning there were mulberry trees. The leaves were used to feed some silk worms which were used to weave silk fabrics. It takes lot of time and work to go through all the process, around 100 days. To be more cost efficient, Mr. Thi decided to make tea with the mulberry leaves. Since then, the community participates in various activities in the farm. Now, they grow organic vegetables and fruits, goats, pigs, and of course mulberry trees.

Their main goal is to help people in this area to acquire skills to earn a living. These activities also help the kids to have a fair education. Most of the children couldn’t go to school because it was too far from their home, and those who could go to school had just a bowl of rice for breakfast and shared a salad for 5 or 6 for lunch. At first, some of the money made by the farm was used to buy those children bicycles so that they can go to school. But after a couple of years, the bikes were damaged, and it was expensive to repair them. Then appeared AVAN (Asian Volunteer Action Network), from the Korean commission of UNESCO, who donated a school bus to the farm. Thanks to this bus, 30 students could be brought to school every morning. They now have a second bus, which allows 60 children to have access to education. As for the nutrition part, the milk from the goats is a source of calcium and is a good complement to the rice for their breakfast. Also, the profit made by the farm is used to buy them some good meals and the school uniform too.

CelineGuillaume_LaotianFarm3The restaurant, the guest house, the “Mojito Bar”, the silk and the tea were all first conceived in order to help the children. Moreover, a Belgium youngster, Ward, is creating a curriculum for free private evening English classes. Volunteers from the guesthouse can apply and give a bit of their time to teach the local youth. In a village of 1,200 people, around 50 children attend those classes.

Lately, AVAN is also creating a library, a youth center and an environmental group.

So if you plan to travel in Laos and want to do something useful, take some time to help this community that needs volunteers. Working in the garden, teaching English, milking or feeding the goats, there will always be something you can do.

For more information, visit the farm’s website

Photos by Guillaume Rosec

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