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An eye-catching student and the curiosity of Taiwan

Aug. 19 will mark four years since I've lived here in Taiwan, a country rich in culture and history — a land different and similar in many ways to my island, St. Lucia. Although my stay here has not been one filled with wonderfully pleasurable moments, it has been one that has helped me grow as an individual. As a foreigner, I've been stared at, quizzed about my personal life and looked upon with amazement due to the fact that I am a woman of color with curly plaited hair, which catches the eyes of many Taiwanese — both female and male.

The questions are always the same: How long did it take to plait your hair? How often do you wash it? Are you from Africa? How much is your rent? Are you an exchange student? To top it off, I was asked the weirdest question by a Taiwanese woman: Why is your skin so black and is it a result of the sun? Jokingly, I answered “yes,” but after some consideration I told her it was naturally that way. I am not sure whether I should view those questions as a show of curiosity, ignorance or a lack of education. Nevertheless, I am always willing to stop and chat about my hair or the color of my skin because I view it as an opportunity to educate and inform.

Aside from that, many will attest that Taiwan is one of the most convenient countries they've visited in terms of transportation. No matter where you are going or at whatever time it may be the MRT, buses and Taxis are always running. There is the availability of stores such as the 7-11 that are open on a 24 hour basis. In addition, Taiwanese are rated as one of the friendliest peoples in Asia. It doesn't matter where you want to go you will always find a Taiwanese who is kind enough to go out of his/her way to assist you with directions, or who would accompany you to find whatever it is that you are looking for. Furthermore, when many countries are struggling with the issue of safety for its citizens, Taiwan can be said to be a very safe island. You are not under any threat while walking down the street alone in the middle of the night, or hanging out in the park at nights with friends.

Eye on Taiwan invites you to share your reflections and observations regarding Taiwan. Please send submissions to alice.li@mail.chinapost.com.tw and include your (1) real name, (2) nationality, (3) contact number, (4) photo, and (5) profile. Specify Eye on Taiwan in the subject line and ensure your submission is at least 350 words long. Writers whose pieces are selected for publication will receive one month's free subscription to The China Post.
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