Sunday, October 05, 2014

No typhoons on the way to Boston...

I just noticed that my first blog posts for October of 2005, 2007, and 2009 are all about typhoons. Don't take my word for it--check out the links...

Friday, September 26, 2014

New book in the former native speaker's library

Gonna be needing this soon...
  • What to Expect the First Year, 3rd. ed. (2014), by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
    There are some mixed reviews of this book, but I figure it's a start. The fomer-current-and-future native Chinese speaker has her own books, too. And then there's all the information (and "information") on the web... plenty enough to confuse me...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Article on a new/old approach to teaching junior-high-level Chinese composition in Taiwan

Chen, Fangyu (陳芳毓). "Without Memorizing Model Essays or Sentences, Students are Taught to Write their own Stories" (不背範文佳句,教孩子寫出自己的故事). Global Views Monthly (遠見雜誌), September 2014. (also available as "68位學生教出57位作文滿級分 不背範文佳句,教孩子寫出自己的故事")

This article by Chen Fangyu (陳芳毓)  introduces a junior high school Chinese (國文) teacher who took an approach to the teaching of writing that evidently differed from what most junior high teachers do--and that evidently worked.

The Comprehensive Assessment Program for Junior High School Students (國中教育會考) is an examination given to third-year junior high school students (ninth graders) in Taiwan. It was first given in 2014 to replace the senior high school entrance examination now that Taiwan has gone from a mandatory 9-year education system to a mandatory 12-year system, doing away with the need for a high school entrance exam. The new examination has been controversial, to say the least, but the purpose of this article isn't to criticize the test, but to describe the approach of one junior high school teacher, Zhou Tianyu (周恬宇), to helping students improve their writing--an approach that resulted in 84% of her students getting perfect marks on the Chinese writing portion of the exam, when nationwide, only 1.6% got perfect scores.

Zhou, a teacher at Taichung's Daya Junior High School, worked with her two classes of students for three years. Zhou emphasized being able to write from experience, and she tried to teach students to use their experiences in their responses to the exam prompts, which often were focused on personal experiences like "the time I made my own decision" (「那一次,我自己做決定」). Her approach to getting students more used to thinking and writing about their own experiences was to require them to keep a diary.

In addition to having students keep a diary every day, she had them watch videos like Malala's UN speech (in English, I assume, probably with Chinese subtitles) and read the novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns (in translation, I assume). Then she would ask students to write about questions that connected these international issues and events to their own lives.The point seems to have been to give them practice seeing connections between their lives and the kinds of topics asked about in the exam questions.

She seems to have adopted some of her approach from Erin Gruwell's depiction in The Freedom Writers Diary of her own work with underprivileged students. The article mentions in several places Gruwell's book and the movie based on it. Interestingly, what Zhou is doing is being evaluated--in both the educational system and in this news article--for its effectiveness in regards to a very traditional writing task for Taiwanese students: passing a high-stakes timed essay exam. To that end, Zhou's approach to writing instruction also needs to take into consideration her students' need to be able to write quickly at the same time that they are able to write from their experiences. The article directly addresses this challenge in the following paragraph:
68個學生程度不一,怎麼教?就像企業以標準作業流程訓練新進同仁,周恬宇也設下寫作4段標準作業流程(SOP):第1段解題;第2段寫生活經驗;第3 段引申論述;第4段再呼應首段做結論。上手後,程度好的學生自然會打破框架,程度一般的學生也能安全上壘。
 Roughly translated:

[Zhou's] sixty-eight students write at different levels--how to teach them? Just like businesses that train their new employees in standard operating procedures, Zhou established a four-paragraph SOP: first paragraph, the opening; second paragraph, writing about personal experience; the third paragraph, extending the discussion; fourth paragraph, concluding by echoing the introductory paragraph. After practice, stronger students could break [go beyond] the framework, while regular students could safely "get on base."
Interestingly, the framework that she provides is similar (if not identical) to the traditional qi-cheng-zhuan-he (起承轉合) four-part structure for Chinese essays. Zhou's perspective on providing a template seems similar to that of American teachers who use the five-paragraph essay framework when teaching primary or secondary students to write.*

As we can see then, although Zhou eschews the "traditional" approaches of requiring students to memorize model essays or "beautiful sentences," she still provides them with a fairly fixed structure to plug their ideas into. This is distinguished, though, from the memorization/imitation techniques that are often practiced in test-preparation cram schools because Zhou insists on students using their own ideas to fill in the the essays and not on memorization and imitation that she says would destroy students' interest in writing (她說,模仿固然能培養文學性,但一定要寫自己的故事,才不會扼殺學習興趣。).

There are other things I could mention about her technique, such as how she marks the students' writing (the article says she spends three hours a day correcting their lexical and grammatical mistakes). The one thing that I want to focus on in the end, though, goes back to the point I found most fascinating about Zhou's approach--her use of non-Chinese works as springboards for students' writing. In the past, I hadn't heard of other secondary school Chinese teachers in Taiwan who used materials from other countries, like Malala's speech or A Thousand Splendid Suns, as sources. Usually, students have been required to read (and memorize?) texts from China--classical texts in particular, though not exclusively. (I don't have time right now to find sources to support this; I'll try to add something here later--if anyone has any thoughts, please comment.)

I'm tempted to call this aspect of her teaching a translingual or transcultural approach to teaching Chinese writing in the sense that she brings in experiences and texts that cross linguistic and cultural barriers, indirectly showing students that to write in Chinese doesn't require one to operate only within the linguistic and cultural borders of Chinese.

*See David Cahill's 2003 article in Written Communication for more on the qi-cheng-zhuan-he structure; he focuses in particular on how the zhuan, or "turn," as it has often been translated, has been overemphasized and misinterpreted in Western contrastive rhetoric studies, effectively making Chinese writing seem more discursively alien to Western readers than it really is.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Second week of class

Thursday marked the end for students to be able to add classes. As I thought would happen, the populations of my three classes changed a few times before then. As late as yesterday, three students were added to my "small" class, almost filling it. That class also has a move diverse population, too, in terms of majors, so we'll be able to do more interdisciplinary work.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Speaking of Tunghai...

I see that ten years ago around this time (the beginning of the semester), I was planning a Research Methods course for sophomore English majors in which I was going to have them "examine critically the history and politics of plagiarism while at the same time trying to teach them not to plagiarize." Hmmm... wonder how that worked out...

First week of classes over

We had a short week this week because classes started on Wednesday, but at least I got a chance to meet (most of) my students. During this week it's a little hard to get into the serious work of the semester because class populations can change a lot. I have two classes that are full, but one is still filling up. (Well, it's about half full right now--or half empty?)

That smaller class is going to be interesting, too, because its focus is on interdisciplinarity, but most of the students are engineering majors. (Probably because of scheduling issues.) I suppose that I can consider civil engineering and electrical engineering as different disciplines, though, even though they're in the same college.

I've given the classes some small assignments for over the weekend; we'll see how they do on those. The two sections of interdisciplinary writing are reading John Swales' chapter on discourse communities (from his 1990 book, Genre Analysis).

I plan for us to talk Monday about discourse communities and disciplinarity. We'll see how it goes! Later on we'll be reading a more recent chapter about discourse communities by Anne Johns. In the business writing course, they'll be brainstorming possible topics for their first project, a research report on a "hot" topic in their discipline/profession.

It was really hot in Boston this week, and one of the classrooms that I have two classes in was particularly sauna-like. I think the air conditioning didn't work. It reminded me of the good old days when I taught at Tunghai's College of Arts building--I remember that during the first couple of weeks of classes, there would be sweat dripping from my forehead when I was teaching. Hopefully they'll fix the air con before Monday!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beginning of fall semester

Next Wednesday (9/3) will be the first day of classes, and marks the beginning of my fourth year teaching at Northeastern University. Time flies! This semester I'll be teaching two courses that are somewhat new to me: an advanced writing course for students in the business school and a new advanced writing course focusing on interdisciplinarity.

The first course isn't completely unfamiliar to me because most of the previous advanced writing courses I've taught have been largely (though not exclusively) populated by business majors. I'll be a bit more focused on some business-related genres, though, than on the kinds of academic genres I used to teach.

In the second course, we'll be focusing more on academic writing. This course will ideally be populated by students from a lot of different majors (though it looks like in one section of the two sections I'm teaching, most of the students are from the business school--more on the reasons for that later). Students will start out by investigating their disciplinarity discourse communities and sharing with their classmates the discourse conventions of those disciplines. Then we'll move from there into working with classmates from a different major on an interdisciplinary research project. We'll be trying to figure out how to go beyond the conventions/discourses/blinders of our individual disciplines in order to investigate topics or problems that themselves aren't limited to one discipline. This course is new--in the past, there was a general course in writing in the disciplines, but the focus wasn't so much on interdisciplinarity.

For both of these courses, I'm teaching the multilingual sections (traditionally called the SOL [Speakers of Other Languages] sections, for people whose native languages aren't English). In the past, there wasn't a multilingual section of the business writing course, but we found that most of the students in the multilingual sections of the general course were business majors, so we decided to open a special course for multilingual business majors. There's only one section for that course, though, which is why, I think, the interdisciplinary course is populated primarily by business majors (who might be surprised by the focus of the course--we'll see...).

We'll see how these courses go. Perhaps I'll post more about them later...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I'll get back to this after I get my grant proposal done...

王乾任: "尊修辭而輕思辨的美文寫作教育,害死台灣"

I do agree with this comment from him: "寫作是專門技能,國文老師一定會教寫作的假設,其實很奇怪,卻少有人會質疑--something I'm glad to see written in Taiwan... something that some people haven't realized in the US, either...

[Update, 8/31: No time to write about the article... sorry...]

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Bad writing habits

I'm still working on the grant proposal. And questioning myself every step along the way. And skimming library search results and Google Scholar search results for sources that I won't have time to read before the proposal is due on the 8th. (And writing blog entries!) All the bad habits that come up when I (and I imagine a lot of other people) have to write something. I have to remember this moment when I'm teaching in the fall.

Friday, August 01, 2014

August first

I've got a grant application due soon that I've been half-(w)racking my brain over and half-avoiding, and I came across this post that I linked to back in August of 2007:
I love this description of the writing process by Tom Shroder, Editor of the Washington Post Magazine:
I'm sure there are writers who don't find writing to be a bone-crushing, nausea-inducing festival of self-loathing. I just don't happen to be one of them. Faced with a blank screen and a deadline for even the shortest, simplest piece, I am seized with the overwhelming desire to clean out my garage. Or do anything other than writing (up to and including root canal).

The problem seems to be standards. I have some. And I'm terrified I can't live up to them. I've found that to make myself write anything at all, I have to begin by lowering my sights, and simply try to write something bad. Don't even write, I tell myself, just type.
That's about how I'm feeling right now...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another old Chiang Kai-shek joke

Liked this one when the former native Chinese speaker (why do I still call her that?) told it to me long ago. This version is updated to 2000:

接下來應該是.. 老蔣也發火了,大聲說:"隨便(水扁)啦..........."
其實原來只到伍子胥,後來又有狗尾續貂,笑果差了點。笑話太長有 時就會疲乏了。

The fifth "John" who lost China

This is an old joke that people more educated about US-China relations than I am probably all know, but I got a kick out of it. In a review of John Paton Davies' autobiography, Roderick MacFarquhar writes,
In the 1950s, the late John King Fairbank, the dean of modern China studies at Harvard, used to tell us graduate students a joke about the allegation that a group of red-leaning foreign service officers and academics—the four Johns—had “lost” China: John Paton Davies, John Stewart Service, John Carter Vincent, and John King Fairbank himself. What the McCarthyites had forgotten, Fairbank said, was to finger the fifth “John”: John Kai-shek.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Another addition to the former native speaker's library

(I'm not sure why I'm still calling myself "the former native speaker...")

The National Geographic Magazine, January 1945. (Vol. 87, no. 1)

The reason I bought this old copy of National Geographic is that it includes an article by Joseph W. Ballantine entitled "I Lived on Formosa." Ballantine later wrote Formosa: A Problem for United States Foreign Policy as well as a book on speaking Japanese.

I looked around on the web to find out what I could about Ballantine. According to the dust jacket of his book, he was in charge of the American Consulate in Taiwan in 1912. Other sources mention that he was born in 1888 in India, so that would mean he went to Taiwan when he was 24. According to this source, though, Ballantine was a Vice and Deputy Consul in Taiwan from 1912-1914.

I came across this paper written by Richard Bush last year; part of it discusses Ballantine and, interestingly, also starts out with Bush's discovery of the National Geographic article.

 "I Lived on Formosa" introduces Taiwan in the context of the island's role in World War II, mixing descriptions of the island, its products, and its population (including its "fierce head-hunters") with depictions of US bomber attacks on airbases, a list of some of the POWs held on the island, and speculation about the potential for using Taiwan as a steppingstone to Japan. (If you haven't heard of the POW camps the Japanese had in Taiwan, here's a link to a memorial website with details.)

Besides that, two themes stand out in Ballantine's article. One is how badly the Japanese treat the Taiwanese, and how much the Taiwanese are looking forward to getting out from under "the heavy yoke" of Japanese rule and "reunit[ing] with their fellow Chinese of the mainland." Because he spoke Japanese, Ballantine writes, "I soon saw with what harshness and contemptuous arrogance the Japanese regarded and treated the subject Chinese." Later on, he writes that "Jap policemen have long arms, regiment the populace, pry into everybody's private affairs, interfere with religious services, teach school, and even try to control the thoughts of the people. Prevention and detection of crime with them are merely incidental functions."

Another theme concerns the lack of Westerners in Taiwan. He describes a "secluded" life with other Westerners, noting that in the winter, "often we were unable to get together even a quorum for bridge." A subheading in the article announces, "Few Europeans Ever Lived Long on Formosa." In Ballantine's defense, it's likely he didn't write those subheadings, but he does write that "no white man's venture here ever lasted long" without mentioning Canadian missionary George Leslie Mackay, who lived there for almost 30 years.

Finally, there's a certain quality of timelessness to Ballantine's article--the sense that he is describing in present tense scenes he witnessed and  people he met decades earlier. Indeed, I haven't found any evidence that he spent any time in Taiwan after 1914. Yet none of his stories of meetings with Aborigines or discussions with Japanese officials, etc., indicate when they happened. It is as if nothing (except for the war) has changed Taiwan in the three decades since Ballantine lived there.

(I see there's an interesting book entitled Presenting America's World: Strategies of Innocence in National Geographic Magazine, 1888-1945, that might discuss this kind of thing.)

Monday, July 28, 2014

summer 1985, allentown pa

Here's a poem I wrote about Uncle Erich back in 1985 after I spent a summer in Allentown living with the Salomons and working at Salomon Jewelers:

summer 1985, allentown pa.

uncle erich the watchmaker
comes home from the iga w/ ring bologna 
& $5.22 worth of fruit & cereal & a-
treat to get his 1/2 priced 5lb bag of
granulated sugar
uncle erich the watchmaker
stands up from the table & pronounces
the meal "sehr gut" as he reaches into
the refrigerator for the ring bologna
then returns to his chair and eyes the
the bologna closely
uncle erich the watchmaker
begins cutting a piece of bologna off
the ring, separating the thin slice from
the ring carefully, as if he were
opening the back of a mid-19th century
pocket watch.
uncle erich the watchmaker 
brushes mustard on the slice, surely
thinking he's cleaning the back of that           
railroad watch & we sit tensely for a
moment, hoping he doesn't go up to his
workroom & dry the bologna in sawdust
before popping it into his mouth

Uncle Erich (Erich E. Salomon), 1919-2014

Here's a picture of Uncle Erich (right), Aunt Lucy (with whom he recently celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary), and their son Erich Salomon II (Rick).

Here's a newspaper article that was written in 1990 about their family business in Allentown. (I'm going to paste it here in case it disappears from the website.)

Brothers' Careers Mark Changing Times In L.v. Remembering

January 18, 1990|by DICK COWEN, The Morning Call

Erich E. Salomon, 70, is a watchmaker and clockmaker in that order.

His brother Gerhard, 64, is a clockmaker and watchmaker, with his skills in clocks.

"I make house calls," Gerhard says, "for grandfather clocks."

In their father's day, these were jobs in which the master craftsman actually made the watch and the clock. Today, they mean repair and restoration, which sometimes includes making parts.

"We get some basket cases," Erich notes.

Both men have been in these crafts for more than half a century in downtown Allentown. And both lament they are in dying trades.

Erich digs out a trade magazine to show a help-wanted ad for a watchmaker at up to $1,000 a week.

To further prove the point, the Salomon brothers note that Erich's son Rick at 32 is one of the youngest watchmakers in Pennsylvania.

When Rick trained in the mid-1970s at Bowman Technical School, Lancaster, the oldest watchmaking school in the country, there were 25 in the program. The latest class had three.
Gerhard's three sons didn't want to go into this work.

For the Salomons, the family business started with Ernest Salomon, Erich and Gerhard's father, in Germany. Ernest was a master clockmaker and watchmaker, going through a four-year apprentice program and building a clock from scratch to complete the training.

That clock still hangs in the shop.

Ernest had his own jewelry store for 17 years in Germany. Then, he and his wife, Emma, and their two young sons came to America and to Allentown in 1928.

For a brief time, they lived near the top of the Lehigh Street hill. Then, the Salomons moved into the third floor of 606 Hamilton St. The Ebbecke Hardware Store was on the first floor.

Ernest worked for three years for Faust & Landes Jewelry Store, 728 Hamilton St., Allentown, until he was cut to one day a week because of the Depression.

He told landlord John Ebbecke that he was going to move because he couldn't afford to pay the rent.
Ebbecke said, "I don't want you to move. Start in business for yourself. I'll see that all my friends will give you work."

So in May 1931, Ernest Salomon opened his shop on the second floor at a workbench he brought from Germany, the same one Erich uses today.

"There was no lease. It was just one of those gentlemen things," Erich says. "When we could afford to, we started to pay."

Erich, then about 12, served as a translator for his father with the customers. He wrote orders. He learned the trade -- at no pay -- as did Gerhard a few years later.

Gerhard laughs, "When you worked at home, you didn't get paid."

For money, Erich at 14 got a job Saturdays at Allentown's Center Square Market, selling butter, eggs and cheese.

"I didn't ask the pay," he remembers. "I worked from 5:45 a.m. till 9 p.m. and got the magnificent sum of $2. I worked there until I was almost 20."

Gerhard delivered newspapers and worked for a news dealer at 7th and Hamilton streets in Allentown. He made $25 one summer in the late 1930s.

"I thought I was rich," he says.

Their father died in 1940, with $35 in the kitty. They decided to continue the business. Their mother, a seamstress, pretty well controlled the purse strings.

"I saved some money and bought some watches," Erich says. "Little by little, the business grew."

The partnership worked. And after each married, the spouses also became a part of the business -- Erich's wife, Lucy, working behind the counter and Gerhard's wife, Dolores, serving as bookkeeper.
Ebbecke died in the early 1940s. But his hardware business continued until October 1966. Then, the Salomons moved to the first floor.

"We were here six months before we signed a lease," Gerhard says.

Ebbecke's son-in-law, attorney Charles Helwig, told the Salomons he wanted them to have the building. In 1974, just before Helwig died, the sale was completed.

The store has 150 working clocks, including 25 grandfather and 40 cuckoo. The striking of noon is a noisome event.

Rick and Gerhard are the partners now. Erich had to step aside at 65 so he could collect Social Security. So his son is now his boss.

Rick says many old family jewelers have done so well that they've educated their children out of the business -- to be doctors and lawyers.

But he says there's a real satisfaction in this craft, despite the long hours, especially in fixing a watch or clock after a customer comes in and says, "I've had this all over the place, and no one wants to touch it."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thoughts about this blog and other things

So after coming up with this cool (well, at least in my view it's cool) new title for my blog, unfortunately I haven't made much use of it. Part of the reason is that I've been really busy with teaching and writing for conference presentations (did one in March and one in April and was supposed to do another in June--did it virtually); another part is that I've been spending more time (too much time) on Facebook (I'm trying to cut down on that--haven't checked FB in about 3 days now). And I've been working on some other projects and also trying to figure out what I should be doing in terms of writing.

So I've sort of felt that if I wrote in this blog, I'd be taking time away from writing other stuff--as though I have a limited number of words and shouldn't waste them. But the problem is that if I'm not writing here, that doesn't mean I'm necessarily doing any productive writing elsewhere. (Half my journal lately has been full of self-loathing over the fact that I'm not getting any productive writing done.) My other concern was that I didn't know what to write about in this blog. But I'm not entirely sure I should be worried about that, considering I'm probably the only person reading it.

So perhaps I should just try to write a little in this blog and see what happens. Maybe I'll come up with some ideas and put them down here, and maybe it'll lead to something. I'm not 100% sure what I'll be writing about here yet--I don't necessarily want to go into a lot of detail about research I'm doing (I'm working on an international collaborative project and probably shouldn't give away too much about that without my colleagues' permission), and I don't necessarily want to go into a lot of detail about life either (there's an international collaborative project going on there, too, but I don't want to go into too much about that, either). But I'll try to write something in here more frequently, and maybe it'll be something worth reading--and perhaps even worth responding to...

In other events, I've had two uncles pass away since January. One died in January at the age of 93, and another passed away this morning at the age of 94. I know I wrote a poem a long time ago about the uncle who died today. I don't have a copy on me, but I'll see if my mother has a copy and if so, I'll post it later.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Blast from the past: A new book in the former native speaker's library

Joseph W. Ballantine, Formosa: A Problem for United States Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1952.

From the inside dust jacket:
The purpose of this book is to acquaint the general reader with the position of the United States with respect to Formosa and with the facts and considerations pertinent to forming judgments on ways and means for dealing with the problem presented.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part I. Background, presenting the physical setting and a sketch of Formosa's prewar history.

Part II. Developments since World War II, dealing with (a) events in Formosa itself and on the Chinese mainland, giving rise to the problem of Formosa in relation to China, (b) the course of United States policy with regard to Formosa specifically and to the Far East generally, and (c) international developments as they affect the island.

Part III. The Present and Future, containing an analysis of the present situation and of the unresolved questions that can now be foreseen.

The author, formerly Director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs in the Department of State, has firsthand knowledge of Formosa going back to 1912 when he was in charge of the American Consulate there. In the course of a long career in the Foreign Service he kept closely in touch with Formosan matters, especially during his period of service in the Department of State. His approach to his subject is therefore that of a practical diplomatist.
Looks interesting. (But I think it's making me sneeze...)

Thursday, April 03, 2014

FB on FB?

One of the projects that I've been working on for the past couple of years has been related to George H. Kerr's writings about Taiwan in the aftermath of the February 28, 1947 Incident (aka 228). If you don't know Kerr, he wrote a book entitled Formosa Betrayed that was published, for a variety of reasons, almost 20 years after the events of 228. I've dug up some information about why that was the case, but I've also been curious about the effects of his earlier activities related to 228--activities like the articles he wrote that were published in Far Eastern Survey in the late 1940s (including an article entitled "Formosa: The March Massacres"), the letters to the editor he wrote to local and national newspapers, the speeches about Taiwan that he gave to various organizations, etc. Besides the Far Eastern Survey articles, in the pre-Internet era those kinds of rhetorical activities (particularly the speeches) seem to have been quite ephemeral, if not in substance at least in effect. (In fact, the publisher of the Far Eastern Survey, the Institute of Pacific Relations, had its reputation smeared during the McCarthy era for an alleged pro-Communist slant.) The only ways I have found out anything about these activities have been through archival searches and reading through his letters. 

So in the past couple of weeks, ever since the student-led occupation of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan began--and especially after the events of March 24--I've had in the back of my mind this question about what the 228 Incident would have been like if George Kerr had had access to social media. In a sense the question is problematic because if Kerr had had access to social media, it's quite probable that the Taiwanese (or the "Formosans," as he liked to call them) would also have had access, and they wouldn't necessarily have needed him to speak for them to the American people. One of things we've seen (those of us who have been watching from abroad, that is) from this Sunflower Movement is that the students and their allies have made extensive use of the Internet and social media to try to make their ideas known to a wider audience. Just yesterday students were answering questions on Reddit in English, for instance. In the early days of the occupation of the Legislative Yuan (LY), a young woman was broadcasting nonstop in English for hours on end on an online video feed. CNN's iReport has also seen its share of video news about the occupation of the LY. Facebook and Twitter have also been used to spread information about the protests. Much of this online material has been produced by the Taiwanese themselves.

But, as Eric Mader Lin wrote recently in the Daily Kos, this story hasn't had much traction with the mainstream US media, and this fact has made me wonder if livestreaming 228 or Formosa Betrayed-esque updates on Facebook would've had much different results than what originally happened without the Internet. Perhaps it would have prevented many of the deaths, which itself would have been no small feat. But in my less optimistic moments, like right now, I feel that perhaps Taiwan is just fated to live--or exist--in the shadow of China (whether that China is the PRC or the once-and-future kingdom of the Chiang dynasty).

I see that The Diplomat also has an editorial on this; while it notes that the Sunflower Movement and its allies managed to organize protests in 21 countries, it concludes on a less optimistic note:
Despite their efforts, foreign media outlets have been slow to pick up the story. Headlines from the New York Times and BBC’s Asia coverage focused instead on the recent anti-PX plant protests in Guangdong. Continuing coverage of the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the situation in Crimea has seemingly prevented media attention from focusing on the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan.
I'd add, even less optimistically, that even topics like Kate Winslet's wrinkles and the final episode of How I Met Your Mother have had better success with US audiences than the Sunflower Movement.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Governor-General Chen Yi's statement in response to the 228 Incident

This was a public statement that Governor-General Chen Yi (陳儀) made as the killings were going on after March 8, 1947:
Brethren of Taiwan --

Yesterday I declared temporary martial law again. Now with the utmost sincerity, I want to tell our good and virtuous brethren who constitute the vast majority of the population of the island, that my declaration of martial law is entirely for your protection. You must not listen to the rumors of wicked people. You must not be suspicious or afraid. There shall not be the slightest harm to our law-abiding brethren. You must feel at ease.

I have declared martial law again solely for the purpose of coping with the very small number of the desperate and rebellious. As long as they are not annihilated there will be no peace for our virtuous brethren.

Since the occurrence of the February 28 Incident, I have broadcast three times. Regarding the Incident, I have had the Monopoly Officer who caused the manslaughter tried by the court, the families of the dead have been indemnified, and the wounded compensated and taken care of, and those who have taken part in the beatings [of mainland Chinese monopoly employees] are exempted from prosecution.

As to political reforms, I have promised that the Government General may be reformed to absorb as many as possible of the people of the Province, that mayors and magistrates may be elected by the people, and that other political reforms may be discussed and decided upon later, according to law. Thus, what is expected and requested by the majority of the people, as far as it is within the boundary of law, has nearly been accepted. Anyway, I believe that from now on order will be completely restored without further trouble.

However, since martial law was lifted on March 1, plundering of property, seizure of arms, and storming of government organizations and godowns has continued to occur in Taipei, and statements against the State were publicly announced. In other places looting, seizing of arms and arresting of government employees, and besieging of government institutions has also occurred. Please reflect whether such deeds are proper and legal. I believe that every one of you, my good brethren, will realize that such actions are far from legal, and are in fact rebellious.

Brethren, since the occurrence of the February 28 Incident, what you have wanted to settle is the question of manslaughter by the Monopoly personnel, and the question of political reform.

But a small minority of ruffians and rebellious gangsters have taken advantage of the situation to invent rumors, sow the seeds of dissension, tell lies, and make threats in order to attain the aims of their plot. All good citizens have suffered a terrible life during the past ten days.

Brethren, such suffering has entirely been created by these ruffians and gangsters. In order to relieve you from this suffering, the Government cannot but declare martial law so as to obliterate these gangsters who are harmful to you. This point I hope you will thoroughly understand.

The transference of national troops to Taiwan is entirely for the protection of the people of the province and for the eradication of rioters and rebels and no other purpose. There is an exceedingly small number of rebellious people in this province; most of the people are exceptionally good and virtuous, and they have provided various means of looking after those from other provinces who have been beaten. Such manifestations of brotherhood I have deeply appreciated.

To these good people of Taiwan I express my sincere gratitude. I further hope they will rally their courage and display their sense of righteousness, and love one another in order to build a new Taiwan.

From "The March Massacre," Formosa Betrayed, George Kerr. Kerr adds, 
The Governor's soothing words were printed up in pamphlet form and scattered by plane over the cities and towns of the island. This statement set the general framework in which both the local and national governments developed later public explanations of the February 28 Incident and its aftermath. "A few wicked gangsters had terrorized the island in the first week of March and had rebelled against the Chinese Government; Chinese Nationalist troops had come in to protect the righteous people, and were now soothing and protecting all honest and upright Formosans."

The roadways, the river banks and the harbor shores were strewn with bodies at that moment, and the Nationalist troops were spreading out through the countryside, to bring "peace and protection" a la Kuomintang.

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Speak power to truth"

As I'm writing this, students in Taiwan are occupying the Legislative Yuan, the parliament in Taiwan, to protest the ruling party's attempt to run through a service trade agreement with China that many fear would harm Taiwan's economy. I have been keeping up with the events through Facebook, reading posts by various people I know and don't know who write or show pictures of the events of the protests, and I feel connected to these events and proud of the students who have stood up for their futures in a way that makes me proud to say that I used to live there. 

I started this blog 10 years ago today (well, actually yesterday) with posts about the 2004 Taiwan presidential election and the protests that took place after that. Now Taiwan is at another turning point in its history, and I hope that this is a time when more people in the world listen to the voices of the people rather than those of the people in power who don't have the interests of the people at heart. A former classmate of mine from Syracuse, Seth Kahn, mentioned to me tonight that rhetoric scholar Lee Artz wrote in a book about activist rhetorics that Seth co-edited that our job is not to "speak truth to power" because the powerful know the truth; the problem is that they don't care. The task facing us, he wrote, is to "speak power to truth." As Artz writes, "Rather than communicating with those in power who benefit from the already known truth of inequality, humanity could be better served by conversations for change among those who would benefit from creating new truths, new powers." This is what I hope is happening in Taiwan, and if it is happening and continues happening, I have hope for Taiwan.