In the green yard, with golden sunlight, young people with faces full of big smiles say hello in beautiful Chinese; they gather here from all over the world. The Chinese Language Center of Tunghai University is like a miniature United Nation.
Taichung: the city with hospitality and warmth
Talking with these young people from Tunghai Chinese Language Center, you will find that they pronounce Chinese words perfectly. The 4 tones of pronunciation, which confuse most foreigners, isn't seen here. Some of them have never learned Chinese before, and the best example is Li Ya Lian from Korea. He entered the Chinese Language Center in February, and can speak to the eporter fluently in Chinese without needing an interpreter.
These young people are from all over the world: Japan, Korea, USA, Europe, and so on. They don't share the same background, but are attracted to the profound Chinese culture. When I ask why they don't choose mainland China, one person says he likes the traditional Chinese words better. Another says that Taichung has so many friendly people that are nice to foreigners. Moreover, they like the weather in Taichung, life is easy and convenient, and the living cost is not so high.
Zheng Bao En came to Taichung by herself after living in Hong Kong and Shanghai. "People in Taichung are so friendly and warm," she comments, "I started to like it as soon as I arrived."
Melvin Huang, from the USA, says, "Compared to Taipei, Taichung is more exotic. You don't often see English signs and the English-speaking population is much smaller than Taipei. Therefore, it's good for us that we have to speak Chinese all the time."
Favorite things: traditional Taiwanese snacks and those must-see attractions
Almost all these young foreigners like the traditional snacks. Li Ya Lian's favorites are tutuo fish soup, stinky tofu and fried dumplings. Zheng Bao En comes from France, a place with world-famous cuisine. She says, "My favorite foods are boiled dumplings and bubble milk tea." Melvin Huang lives in the Tunghai Lodge District, very close to the night market. He says he is lucky because as soon as he walks out of the house, he can see all kinds of great food. I ask him what his favorite snack is. He smiles and says, "All of them. Everything is delicious. Though I eat Chinese food at home in the USA, the food in Taichung is obviously more authentic."
All of them have visited almost all of the famous attractions in Taichung. Their mustsee picks are the night markets, Dadu Mountain, the science museum and the art gallery. Ya Lian likes Dadu Mountain and Taichung Port the most. "The night scenery at Dadu Mountain is so beautiful! And at the port, there are local people shouting to sell fish; it sounds so good and full of warmth." He likes to take pictures of traditional local life styles. Bao En says she likes to ride a motorcycle in the city: "I admit it is kind of dangerous!" Melvin likes to eat in Taichung's exotic restaurants, as well as shop at the traditional markets and the Art Street near Tunghai.
Learning Chinese well opens up windows
These young energetic people also share the same ideal: "To see the world and to learn from experiencing a different culture." Ya Lian goes to the language center during the day, and then works at his uncle's Korean restaurant. He will go back home to study his university degree. He plans to go to the United States to study English after graduating.
Some of the students target their future in China, Melvin being one example. He plans to go back to United States to study at law school. " In the near future, mainland China will start its law revolution. They need to learn form western world, and I look forward to being the communication bridge between the Chinese government and advanced western countries." At leisure time, Melvin also does some translation work for the Law Department of Tunghai University. Bao En is also thinking of working in China in the future: "I hope to work in two languages-Chinese and English-probably in the field of international trade or economics."