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Three Female Writers and Taiwan’s Ethnic Relations and Language Policy

Jenny Yim, Co-ordinator of the Chinese Studies Course Development Team

The design of “China Classroom’s” study tour (please refer to articles posted in MBWY Issue no. 18 for details) for Year 9 students revolves around three main themes, namely, 1) the interpretation of history, 2)conservation and development, and 3) ethnic relations and language policies. It might sound like they are all recondite topics, but in fact the issues we wish to inquire are relevant to our daily lives and involve feelings and thoughts that lay in everyone’s heart.

A trip to the National Museum of Taiwan Literature may well explain this. The museum, situated in Tainan and listed on the itinerary of Year 9’s study tour, presents enthralling exhibitions that display manuscripts, books and related items in ways that lead visitors to personally get in touch with Taiwan’s history. Through the manuscript of poet Xi Murong, for example, we are able to feel one’s inborn attachment towards “hometown” as she passionately talks of Inner Mongolia, the land of her ancestors which she only got to see after she was fully grown. Zhu Tianxin, a writer who spent her childhood in a Military Dependents’ Village1, observed the restlessness that arises when people are unable to live on the land that nurtured and eventually buried their ancestors. Finally, as we trace the changes in Hakka poet Du Pan Fang-ge’s choice of written language, we also witness the transformation and development of Taiwan’s language policy. The life stories and works of each of the writers are interwoven with the historical and cultural background of Taiwan. They reveal different facets of Taiwan’s ethnic relations and language policy, which is one of the three main themes of Year 9’s “China Classroom”.

The design of “China Classroom” encourages students to explore seemingly perplexing issues in ways that they could personally relate to. Hopefully, it would be a brand new experience to students in which learning has never been as fun and rewarding.

[1] Villages specially allotted to KMT soldiers and dependents that retreated to Taiwan with the Nationalist Government.

(Originally appears in Issue no. 19, Minbaowuyu)


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