Girl Meets Formosa is the blog of a young American writer spending a year in Taiwan to research a book about her family called In Search of Formosa. Since I am still working on writing and researching the book, this blog is a fun and exciting place to post updates, share my experiences living and working abroad, and watch an author’s story unfold.

In the blog, I post regular updates on the research, fun pictures, and show you what it’s like to live in Taipei!  I may or may not post excerpts of the book itself.  Also look out for discussions of some of my favorite topics– food, fashion, travel, writing, book reviews and reflections on life back in the States.

However, I am here to do research, so my point of view also includes a literary and academic side. I will discuss life as a Fulbrighter, applying to grants, and the nature of my research: it will expand to incorporate primary sources like newspapers and magazines from the 1940s-1960s and oral history interviews with family members and other descendants of key historical players.

I will strive to experience the cultural and political climate of contemporary Taiwan, and will explore how Taiwanese history is evolving amongst those who are in a position to dictate how that history will be told.  The full extent of what happened during the tumultuous rift between the KMT and the Taiwan Democratic Independence Party is not yet known, and has not been widely documented thus far (to my knowledge) in Taiwanese histories. And as a nation, Taiwan is still figuring out how to document and come to terms with the “White Terror period” in its history.  So the nature of my research (and documenting of it) is both delicate and exciting.

About the Header Photo and its Photographer

Blog Header Photo full size

Chris (orange tuesday) is a Taipei-based photographer and ex-English teacher who hails from the United Kingdom. Recent interests and preoccupations include language learning, photography, the arts, scuba diving and traveling. Currently, his focus is on language learning. Check out his awesome Flickr photos of Taiwan and elsewhere here.  Chris started a new photo project in April 2010 called 100 strangers to friends. To find out more go to the blog 100strangerstofriends.blogspot.com/.

Banner from march in Taipei

photo by Prince Roy courtesy of Flickr creative commons

This Blog is Neither Green Nor Blue

I want to be very clear about something: I am not here as a political activist.  I am here to research the political activities of a family member and historical figure, not to pick up Thomas Liao’s former torch and carry it.

(A quick note for non-Taiwanese: “green party” over the years has typically symbolized pro-independence sentiments, whereas “blue party” over the years was the Nationalist KMT party, which has become much more democratic and liberal as the government ended martial law. “Blue party” has a legacy to some degree of pro-unification connotations.)

I want to keep an open mind and heart when dealing with any delicate or difficult times in Taiwan’s history, and leave room for many sides of the same story.  In my mind, this is the challenge of a writer and journalist: to navigate between many versions of one event and find a kind of ambivalent balance of contradictory possibilities.  And to cover the emotional, historical, and cultural truths of what has occurred, and how its legacy has affected a nation of people.

That being said, I welcome help! And will be requesting it, lots of it. If you are working in any kind of historical field and want to get involved with this project, or are curious about it, please do get in touch!  I will be looking for primary print and media sources on Taiwanese politics circa 1945-1965, as well as interested in meeting with people who lived through those times and those affected by a legacy of the struggle for independence and Taiwanese self-rule.  I imagine that I will also eventually be looking for help translating certain books and documents in the future, and am interested in language partnerships– I can help you with your English if you help me with my Chinese!

I Reserve My Copyright to Everything on this Site, Except that Which Belongs to You

I’m a writer, so I take proprietary ownership of my words pretty seriously.  Also, I have taught anti-plagiarism classes to hundreds of college freshmen over the years, so I take that pretty seriously too.  All of the writing that I present on this site is mine, unless I say otherwise.  Most of it will be original writing, not from the book, published essays, or excerpts. But I will alert all parties in the case of reproducing anything, and will certain give attribution to any creative work used here.  I retain all rights to the writing posted on this blog, and anyone who wants to re-use any of the words, phrases, or ideas, must ask my permission before using, even on the interwebs. Thank you.

A Mountain of Disclaimers

Now that I’ve claimed an original right to my own work, I’m going to deny responsibility for the following:

  • This is not an official Fulbright Program blog; the views expressed here are mine and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.  I do not intend to represent any Fulbright officials, selection committees, or the Institute for International Education (IIE). I like them a whole lot, but do not claim to be one of them.
  • I am not positioning myself as activist in current Taiwanese politics.
  • I do not intend to speak for any Taiwanese citizens. I am an American, and want to absorb as much history and cultural information as I can, to reconstruct a period in history. In doing so I hope to preserve historical accuracy and show the difficulties of synthesizing multiple perspectives– however, I don’t presume to discover a definitive word on what living in Taiwan over the past 50 years has felt like.
  • As a biracial American who grew up in a small homogeneous town, I had a very specific experience. I do not intend to speak for all biracial Americans, or all young people who grew up in small towns, but I DO intend to speak for all the half-Jewish, half-Asian girls who grew up in Sag Harbor in the late 1980’s. Which is a long way of saying that I speak for myself, and myself only.
  • I think traveling is just the best thing since sliced bread, and am more than happy to share tips and all of my favorite places to go when traveling.  However, I take no responsibility for how much fun you have when taking these suggestions.  I do hope you’ll comment back with YOUR favorite things to do in Taiwan!