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Outgoing AIT spokeswoman talks about love for Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Outgoing American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokeswoman Sheila Paskman said the Taiwanese people will be her strongest memory of her time in Taiwan.

Asked to name one thing she will remember the most about Taiwan, Paskman said she will never forget Taiwan simply because of its amazing people.

“It's always the people (that I will remember the most). It's just so much fun for being here with everybody in Taiwan,” Paskman said during an interview with local media last Thursday.

She is expected to return to the U.S. tomorrow at the end of her three-year-term in Taipei before taking up her new post in Liberia.

Paskman assumed duties as Public Affairs Section Chief and the spokesperson for the AIT on July 1, 2010.

During the past three years, the official has helped the AIT to organize a series of culture-related exhibitions across the nation, including“Immigrants Building America” the “American Footsteps in Taiwan,” “Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the United States,” and “Picturing America.”

Paskman said these exhibitions have different meanings but they were all launched to promote better understanding between Taiwanese people and their American counterparts.

She noted that even though people in Taiwan think they know the U.S., there is actually a lot of misunderstanding.

For instance, the spokeswoman said once a Taiwanese asked to see her gun.

Cultural Misperception

“I have never in my life had a gun. But if you see TV and movies you would think that everyone in the U.S. has a gun in his or her pocket. It's a cultural misperception,” she said.

These exhibitions and culture programs are to help local people to see all the other sides of America and how both countries have shared common values, she noted.

Asked about her favorite experience in Taiwan, Paskman said she really enjoyed the streets late at night or visiting parks early in the morning.

“Taiwan comes alive in the evening around 9 or 10 o'clock. Everybody is on the street,” she said, adding that walking on the street at night really made her thinks she is part of the country.

Like many foreigners, the American official also enjoyed visiting night markets and has a taste of Taiwanese cuisines even though she still has difficulty eating stinky tofu.

The AIT spokeswoman promised that she will visit Taiwan again in the future, not just for the lovely people but also because she has not visited some of the country's trademark scenic spots, including Kenting (墾丁) and Green Island (綠島).

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This undated image shows outgoing American Institute in Taiwan spokeswoman Sheila Paskman. (Courtesy of the AIT)

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