Two Western parents raising a kid in Taiwan

[quote=“Indiana”]People here can be cold and outrageously self-centered. Much of the time (not all the time and not every single Taiwanese person on the island, of course) they will appear to be kind and think of you when it benefits them. That’s the catch. Generally, Americans do not think this way. I was raised to think of others before myself. Here, ITS THE OTHER WAY AROUND. There is no comparison!!
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I think it’s not a matter of self-centered or not. The social structure is totally different between west and east.

In the western world, a society consists of each individual and each privacy is protected. You are supposed to love each other even he/she is a total stranger because you are brothers and sisters under Christianity, but are not suppose to get into others’ personal space.

In the eastern world, a society consists of in-group(内) and out-group(外).
In group can be your family member and very good friends. Out group is the people other than In group. Asian do not care about people belong to out group, but really care about In group people.

For instance, when a typical Chinese saw a wounded person lying on the road, he/she may take a look out of curiosity, but doesn’t want to help the person out as he/she doesn’t want to be involved in a trouble.

However, if one’s close friend, an in group member, is in danger, one may try to save him/her even one may lost his life.

As an Asian, Japanese also have this sort of mentality, but not as extreme as Chinese.

I have very close Chinese friends who always help me a lot, but sometimes, I feel uncomfortable when they are too close and act as if they are my relatives.

[quote=“nihonjin”][quote=“Indiana”]People here can be cold and outrageously self-centered. Much of the time (not all the time and not every single Taiwanese person on the island, of course) they will appear to be kind and think of you when it benefits them. That’s the catch. Generally, Americans do not think this way. I was raised to think of others before myself. Here, ITS THE OTHER WAY AROUND. There is no comparison!!
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I think it’s not a matter of self-centered or not. The social structure is totally different between west and east.

In the western world, a society consists of each individual and each privacy is protected. You are supposed to love each other even he/she is a total stranger because you are brothers and sisters under Christianity, but are not suppose to get into others’ personal space.
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Christianity has nothing to do with it really, it’s more of a cultural thing…we are brought up to think of others before ourselves, to help others in need, etc. It becomes almost instinctual.

If I were to see a wounded person lying on the road, like you mentioned before, I would have the natural instinct to help them, regardless of my faith (and I am an athiest, by the way).

You’re right, many Asians will just stare out of curiosity, and won’t help. That happened to me before when I got into a bicycle accident outside an elementary school. It was during drop-off time and I got hit by a scooterist who was driving on the wrong side of the street, and nailed me as she came around the corner. What did she do? Sped off. What did the hundreds of parents and kids do as they walked by me as I lay bleeding on the side of the road? Absolutely nothing but stare and walk around me.

This mentality makes it difficult for many westerners. It’s a big cultural difference, one that I can’t really get my head around if I was to be honest. That’s why I can’t stay here for years on end. :s

[quote=“Indiana”]You’re right, many Asians will just stare out of curiosity, and won’t help. That happened to me before when I got into a bicycle accident outside an elementary school. It was during drop-off time and I got hit by a scooterist who was driving on the wrong side of the street, and nailed me as she came around the corner. What did she do? Sped off. What did the hundreds of parents and kids do as they walked by me as I lay bleeding on the side of the road? Absolutely nothing but stare and walk around me.

This mentality makes it difficult for many westerners. It’s a big cultural difference, one that I can’t really get my head around if I was to be honest. That’s why I can’t stay here for years on end. :s[/quote]

I’m terribly sorry to hear that you had such a painful experience. I just wrote what I read about the cultural difference as an exaggerated example, but never heard of such a sad story from anyone around me. :astonished:

That is utterly inhuman. Pls do not think that all Asian including Chinese in other coutries are the same. :noway:

[quote=“WanderingDave”]We feel it would be a gift to a child to give him/her a foothold in another place entirely, that he/she could fall back on if need be.
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What foothold?

Knowing people in Taiwan, speaking the language perfectly or being educated in Taiwan won’t help you much as an adult on a foreign passport seeking residency in Taiwan. Apart from instilling the idea that there are other ways to live or other options, I can’t see where bringing up a child in Taiwan would provide him or her with any sort of realistic “escape valve” given the attitudes of the Taiwanese authorities towards foreign long-term residence. It would still take the requisite 5 or 7 years for him or her to get PR as an adult, and if there were some sort of catastrophe in the US, I’m sure the rules would tighten up even more to keep out people wanting to get into Taiwan.

That’s assuming the PRC doesn’t bring Taiwan back to the bosom of the motherland, of course…

I’ve heard of wounded foreigners left lying in the strreet ignored in Japan too. So no, I don’t think it’s just a Chinese phenomenon.

Mother Theresa, I was planning on doing one of the many exchange programs they have for medical residents to go abroad. This doesn’t mean I’ll end up going back to Taiwan necessarily (Okinawa would be a great place to be for probing the secrets of longevity!), but since I have conncections there already, it’s a place I’d like to steer myself towards. I’ll be on the lookout for residencies or partial residencies that involve working or researching there, and be sure to pick the brains of Chinese med students studying in the US with me.

As for the school debt, how I’ll pay that is anyone’s guess.

Lots of people will have lots of different perspectives on the benefits and drawbacks of wherever you choose to live. My belief is that if the choice you make makes you and your wife-to-be happy, that would be the best influence on your child/children. If your partner was set on teaching math in another country and you were set on being a doctor, and you succeeded, and passed that happiness to your children, I believe they would pick up your passion for life, which is really very important. And if, no matter where you were, you looked at the world around you objectively and shared your observations, knowledge and experience with your children, they would learn much from that.

As for others’ experiences in Taiwan, while I am not sure they fit with your dilemma of bringing your child-to-be to Taiwan, I would like to share some from abroad:

  1. Trip home to NZ -
    A) cousin is beat up and left for dead on a (busy) bridge in Christchurch because he “looks gay”. Left there for around estimated 4 hours before any passer-by stop to help.
    B) Walk a group of Asian students down a street to have group of white NZers stop me and tell me “Go back where you come from and take your stinking yellow friends with you” Unfortunately go to a wine bar where “we” aren’t welcome, getting students beat up by locals
    C) Walk with husband (Taiwanese) down street to hoots of “ooow, konichi wa wa wa”

  2. Trip to Germany -
    A) Two students are pickpocketed on first day of trip.

  3. Trip to San Fransisco
    A) Take group of Taiwan students down to the Pier. Lots of degoratory comments, including a family, where father holds nose, looks at me and says, “EEEW, I smell something YELLOW.”
    B) Total of four students have wallets stolen in 7 days.

  4. Trip to Toronto
    A) Walking past one of many homeless people in the street, obviously with some mental problem, my very nice Canadian friend shakes his head and says, “I don’t understand why they just don’t get jobs.”

I’ve been in Taiwan over 10 years, and have put myself in some pretty stupid situations. I have ALWAYS gotten assistance from the local community, even when I probably didn’t deserve it. And the Taiwanese I know all seem to do things for their community or for others around them, they just don’t have to brag about it like I feel culturally compelled to do :wink:

Sure, Taiwan has some problems, but from my experience, so do a few other places. None of the things mentioned above would stop me from living in those countries. I would just better prepare myself and my son to deal with what I now know exists around me.

I think you had some unusually bad luck in your travels asiababy. I find it amazing you’d hear a racist remark about asians at Fisherman’s Pier in SF, when a third of the Bay Area population is Asian and, as one of the Bay Area’s greatest tourist destinations, Fisherman’s Pier contains one of the most diverse mixtures of people I’ve seen anywhere, from all over the world. The guy you ran into was truly a rare nutcase (either that or you misheard his comment). I don’t know NZ, but I suspect you had unusually bad luck there as well.

As for my opinion, one does encounter racism more frequently here, but usually benign, not hostile, racism – just the stares, being talked about behind ones back or to ones face, the assumption that one is an english teacher and the coo-coo-cooing with one’s adorable mixed baby. But after a while that’s no more annoying than the dirt, pollution and noise of Taiwan, that one no longer notices after a while.

My husband and I are both westerners and have rasied our nearly 4 year old daughter here for the past two years. We live in a small city, and are quite happy to raise our daughter here. My daughter is fluent in both mandarin and English, and she is the only foreign little girl here. She goes to regular Chinese kindergarten and has no problems whatsoever, excet that she gets more attention when the school goes on field trips. She is treated like every other kid, the novelty of her blonde curls and blue eyes has totally worn off and the kids totally accept her as just another kid. she also does ballet twice a week at one of the local ballet schools, where the situation is much the same. She is extremely happy and well adjusted, and since neither my husband nor I speak much Chinese, she is our translator. It is tough for her when we venture out of Miaoli, as she gets a lot of attention, and some days she’s up to it and some days she’s not.

I am extremely happy with her school - her teacher is great, and even though she does not speak a word of English, always tries to communicate with me, even a far as having my daughter’s communication book translated for us.

The upshot is that everyone’s experience is different, but for our Western family, we are happy here and are happy to raise our daughter here. Because we have flexible schedules, we are able to spend more time with her than we would have at home, and that is priceless as far as we are concerned.

If that is your view of the US, than please, by all means, leave. Taiwan is the place for you. You’ll fit in just fine. Stick your kid in a local school and never look back.

Well, I wouldn’t base your decision of “catastophic event”…they can happen anywhere, as we see with the tsunami, pakistan earthquake, bombings all over the world…
but if you’re thinking like terrorist type catastrophes, they can happen anywhere.

I know there’s a stereotype in US about asians being so freaking smart…there’s a reason, because they study ALL day. They don’t have the daily lives of american children and that’s the big difference…asian children study most the day, and then go to buxibans to study more…which I’m not saying is bad or good, but taking a child out of the american school system isn’t going to guarantee any change…that comes from parenting…not so much from teaching. Parents here push their kids and parents in U.S. encourage their kids. It’s just about how you decide to raise your child. If you stay in the U.S. there are private schools, tutoring…and if you come to Taiwan, there are numerous schools, but children don’t excercise as much here as they do in U.S. (saying this is kinda ironic since the U.S. child obesity is raising) but seriously…americans focus on sports.

Anyways…it’s more about parenting than leaving a country because you don’t like their way of teaching.

[quote=“bon2h1”].and if you come to Taiwan, there are numerous schools, but children don’t excercise as much here as they do in U.S. (saying this is kinda ironic since the U.S. child obesity is raising) but seriously…Americans focus on sports.

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Obesity in TWese children is on the rise also. There are often reports in the Chinese newspapers on this.

You mean, so utterly unlike anywhere in the West? :laughing:

You mean, so utterly unlike anywhere in the West? :laughing:[/quote]

I got to thinking about this thread today, and no I don’t think we in the West have a strong, MEMEMEMEMEME attitude. Or at least we have a different slant on it. The MEMEMEME I observe, mind you from A FAR, is more of independent emphasis on ME. Saying that ‘I’ count, that my feelings count,etc. That I don’t have to be or do or have what would make me bound to a group. That one person has the right to be or do what they choose to be. At times it maybe egocentric and misguiding. Yet, I think, at least in America, there is still some emphasis on the consideration for others. There is a strong victim mentality growing in America, but it’s not the same as what Taiwan has. IMO, Taiwan has ways to grow in terms of being conscious of the world around them and how they relate to it.

A lot of American public schools are in rough shape. I’m an assistant teacher right now at East High in Anchorage, Alaska and I wouldn’t have child in that school for anything in this life. When I was going to college in Brooklyn, NY, I was also a teaching assistant there -wouldn’t put a kid in one of those schools for anything in the world. The scene is “live” and getting LIVER by the minute in US public schools.

This question is for alazaskan1,

“The scene is “Live” and get LIVER by the moment”…what in the world is LIVER? Last I checked that wasn’t a word…sorry, I just thought that was funny, and kinda ironic since you were a teacher. :s

America is so big, so maybe research on more schools instead of one in Anchorage and one in Brooklyn before making an assumption on the education system. It’s a good topic to research. I know that in the Southern part of America some of the schools have suffered in a way. Meaning that they have ranked very low in test scores…, but as for the overall educational system, I’m not sure where it stands. I definately agree that American public schools do not really prepare the students for college.

It takes atleast a year for most students to realize how much they need to study to make good grades. Not like in Taiwan where High School is much harder and College is a little easier.

Anyway…I just had to comment on the “LIVER” suggestion…I’m still pretty confused.

“Liver” sounds more cooler than “more alive.” :wink:

Well, I could be wrong (still really confused about the LIVER thing) but I think you’re trying to say “Eat or get eaten” instead of “Live or get Liver by the minute in American schools”

I’m not familiar with US schools, but I was wondering, do you think that the “focus on sports” is always a good thing? I was not good at sport and felt quite alienated from my region’s sports-oriented social scene when I was young. And I found it frustrating to go out and have the date/their friends talk about sport all the time.

Coming to Taiwan, I was happy to find the conversations with my peers much more interesting and varied in topic than back home, and to not have pressure to excel in sport.

Here, I have been able to join lots of sporting activities without pressure to be great at them, and that has lead me to feeling a lot happier about exercise in general.

I hope my children don’t have that social pressure I did, where academic achievement is not cool at all, and where being a team captain is seen as the ultimate social success.

[quote=“asiababy”]I’m not familiar with US schools, but I was wondering, do you think that the “focus on sports” is always a good thing? I was not good at sport and felt quite alienated from my region’s sports-oriented social scene when I was young. And I found it frustrating to go out and have the date/their friends talk about sport all the time.

Here, I have been able to join lots of sporting activities without pressure to be great at them, and that has lead me to feeling a lot happier about exercise in general.

I hope my children don’t have that social pressure I did, where academic achievement is not cool at all, and where being a team captain is seen as the ultimate social success.[/quote]

I really do like sports and I played American football while in HS back home. However, I hated… absolutely despised the focus on sports and the way that parents and coaches frequently approach the games. This has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time, going back at least to the times when I was still playing.

I agree with your sentiments 100%.

live= wild, LIVER= more wild

I know this is generalizing, but, it seems like public schools that fall within the ciy limits are much worse off than those in the suburbs. To make the matter more complicated here in Anchorage, the class I’m an “aid” in is considered “Generation 1.5” which means they were either born here in the States or moved here when they were very young and can speak perfect (well…) fluent English. They are fluent, I’ll say that much. However, due to the fact that they are speaking Samoan, Spanish, Lao and Thai when they go home (I don’t know if this is “due” to that…) they generally don’t spend much time writing in English.

I saw with my own eyes as they went up to the board, in groups of 6 or 7 (so as not to struggle alone in the spotlight), that only 1 out of 18 could write a complete sentence in English. They’re 17 years old.