Friday, June 11, 2010

We are enjoying our time in Taiwan and the hospitality of Donna's sister and family. This past few days we went to Taipei as I delivered lectures at Fu Jen University. I also discussed the possibilities for establishing an exchange agreement between Fu Jen and the University of Oklahoma. It was nice to see how the environment surrounding the campus has improved as most of the small, polluting factories, which formerly made the air and water less than desirable, have closed or moved away. There are also more shops and places to eat just outside the campus. When the MRT station finally opens, hopefully by the end of this year, it will become even better. So I am excited and pleased by this opportunity.

Taiwan's universities, however, are facing some challenges. There are now too many universities and not enough students. Fu Jen is doing well, as it has been long established and has a reputation as one of the top universities in Taiwan. However, lesser universities are seeing enrollments plummet and find it harder and harder to attract students. Some need to close and/or downsize in order to survive. While some of this problem can be alleviated by students from the mainland, it is hard to see that this will solve all the problems.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Migration

I just arrived with my family to Taiwan this past week. I'll spend the next 3 weeks here, then a week in Singapore, followed by 4 weeks in China.

June 05, 2010 Taiwan, Changhua 溪州

On the airplane I was reading Leslie Chang’s book, Factory Girls. (An excellent book I highly recommend.) The section I was reading narrated her trip with a factory girl to her hometown in the rural interior during Chinese New Year. She spoke of the journey made by millions, and how important it is. Such a journey is something I am most familiar with as I have done it many times in Taiwan. But as I was reading I realized that I was engaged in another journey: the summer vacation, end-of-school, flight back “home.” This is a new kind of migration, not done by car, bus, or train, but through the air. It has arisen due to the technology of air travel, and the wealth that the expatriate community members have generated in recent decades. The longest leg of our journey went from Dallas to Narita, followed by a long layover there before our final leg to Kaohsiung. In the section of the plane I was on, the number of those going to Japan as their final destination was in the minority. Others, like us, were flying to Taiwan. Some appeared to be Indian. But the largest number seemed to be Vietnamese. There were many families with young children who looked like their parents, but unlike their parents spoke American accented English as their primary language. So while Chinese New Year is still the most important migration event, the after-school, summer-vacation migration is growing, and strikes me as the newly emerging migration period for the East Asian diaspora.