A friend of mine in Kinmen observed that suddenly there are a whole bunch of Americans in Kinmen. He’s seen them at Carrefour buying pillows, blankets and groceries, walking long distances down sidewalk-less roads that lead to nowhere, and buying beer (alone) at 7-11 in the middle of the night. They all only spoke English. This has been all in the past two days. In a non-COVID year, I would say that’s obviously the new Fulbright cohort, since Fulbright usually arrives in early August, but Fulbright is a one-year program that was suspended due to COVID. New Fulbright English Teaching “Assistants” would not have ARCs. They would be people who just graduated from college and hadn’t been to Taiwan before. That’s kind of a Fulbright recruiting rule. So these new American English speaking white people couldn’t possibly be Fulbright, right?
At first I wanted to tell him to get over himself, that white people who live in Taiwan are allowed to take vacations to outlying islands and wander down whatever paths they want or drink alone if they want, but if they’re buying bedding and groceries, that sounds more like they’ve just moved there.
If it was one or two people, I’d suggest that maybe a few foreigners from the main island of Taiwan have decided to dive into Kinmen’s public schools this year (* shutters *. Been there, done that). But he said he’s seen at least 8. When I taught there, there were only about 6 licensed foreign teachers total and 4 of them had lived there for over a decade and almost never went out (or, I should say, I would run into one of them, maybe once a year, but maybe I never went out? ). The schools sucked at recruitment and there might be one or new two licensed foreigner teachers in a given year. Tops. I know a lot of FETs in Taiwan and none of them would ever want to live in Kinmen (besides the ones that already do, of course). Given these past few months, the FETs I know are all staying put. There’s no way 8 FETs have decided to move to Kinmen this year, considering two has always been stretching it.
So, here’s my question: Who is being allowed into Taiwan right now? Did the Taiwanese government finally figure out a way to recruit foreign English teachers in a way that foreign English teachers would know they were recruiting? Did they then decide to let foreigners who didn’t have an ARC in, provided they’re licensed teachers? If so, why didn’t the press pick up on that?
The only other thing I can think of, besides foreigners on vacation that for some reason need to buy their own bedding or a sudden influx of FETs who really want to live the tiny island life, is that somehow Fulbright managed to sneak ARC-less people in. If that’s the case, I’d really love to have a chat with the Apple Daily about unlicensed college grads being let into the country to play teacher in a public school for a year while people who have legitimate and pressing reasons to be in this country (or at least licensed teachers who have been recruited from abroad) are being blocked until further notice.