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Taiwan tauts success of immigrant programs

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) attended the 2013 International Conference on Immigration Policy and New Immigrants Torch Program Achievements Exhibition yesterday. The conference welcomed guest speakers for seminars and open panels from around the globe, featuring representatives of countries where many immigrants to Taiwan originate.

With “Harmony Respect Friendly” serving as the main theme, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) collaborated with the National Immigration Agency (NIA), along with advisory committees and assistance from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) to hold the conference. The conference aims to improve upon and create new programs for interracial families in the future through seminars and panels from world-renowned scholars. The event also celebrated the achievements of support programs for new immigrants in recent years. Wu was invited as the honorary speaker and presented achievement awards to cities and counties for their outstanding participation and efforts in new immigrant welfare.

The conference launched with the opening of a gallery exhibit of photographs and introductions to the achievements of Taiwan's new immigrant programs, such as the empowerment of immigrants and their children through scholarships and financial assistance, home visits to the domiciles of immigrants, creative genealogy contests for new immigrants, volunteer training for counseling immigrants, cooking contests for multicultural cuisines, family camps and other creative events.

Sharing the same written language and grammar, immigrants from Chinese not only have little trouble communicating in Taiwan regardless of the native dialect, but the population brings in authentic and fresh new “twists” to existing Chinese cuisines and cultures in Taiwan as well. Yet, unlike their Chinese counterparts, new immigrants from non-Chinese speaking countries face difficulties in adjusting to a new culture made more complicated by the lack of communication as a result of language barriers. Furthermore, some spouses stress over the inability of their children to communicate with their foreign relatives. Such difficulties not only complicate a relationship but can also deteriorate one from misunderstandings or being unable to think in another's cultural position.

From monthly telephone interviews advised by the MOI, to community Chinese culinary classes tailored to aid non-Chinese speaking spouses in getting accustomed to the Taiwanese language and culture, and foreign language classes for children advised by the MOE, Taiwan has in recent years implemented programs to aid interracial families in response to the issues. The results have been more than favorable, allowing MOFA and NIA to take their efforts into a new whole new level through the seminars and panels from experts held during this conference.

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