In January 2019 I returned to Taiwan with my husband Jung-Woong Bosco as a Columban lay missionary couple. At the moment, I’m completing month seven of a full year, full-time study of the Mandarin language.
Every day I walk to my class since my “classroom” is in a coffee shop near my apartment. On my way I pass a small park where local people do their daily exercises, play tennis, chat with friends and eat breakfast.
I always order coffee once I get to the coffee shop. Since I am regular customer the owner knows what I like and before I get a chance to order he would say to me “Your coffee with be ready in 30 seconds.” Then he turns to his barista and says, “You have 30 seconds to make the coffee.” Every time I hear this interaction between the two of them I can’t help but smile.
My language teacher, Teacher Dai, is quite new in teaching the language. She is also married and has a daughter. Aside from our lessons from the textbooks we also discuss culture, traditions, backgrounds, etc. Recently, during one of our classes we discussed the politics in South Korea and Japan, which led us to discuss how Taiwan favors Japan’s life style. Through my years here, I observed that most Taiwanese, from the elderly to the young, have the same style in food, fashion and etiquette as the Japanese.
In Hsinchu City where I am based, there are a number of infrastructures built by the Japanese, one of which is the historic building is the government office located at the center of the city which was built in the 19th century. Tourists who visit this place are given a grand tour and a brief history of the Japanese era in Taiwan. This is completely different coming from South Korea who had a tumultuous relationship with Japan. It is challenging for me to grasp the fascination of the Taiwanese people for Japan. But I understand that the Taiwanese are grateful for Japanese contributions to Taiwan’s development.
In one of our classes we visited the most famous temple in Hsinchu City, the Chenghuang (City God) Temple, which is regarded as the highest-ranking of all City God temples in Taiwan, due to the superior spiritual power of its City God in protecting the town. Outside the temple there is a market selling local delicacies, and I used to visit there for the food but never really ventured inside the temple. My teacher asked me if God would allow us to go inside the temple. I immediately replied that “of course my God would love this place too.”
She is very helpful if I have questions about the local customs, culture and history. She is knowledgeable of the Taiwan history. She is also very proud for teaching me, and I always show her my utmost respect. I hope that our good relationship will continue.