Published: June 1, 2023

As part of a Tang-funded global seminar this summer, a group of 14 undergraduate students from CU embarked on a three-week program immersing themselves in Taiwanese life, culture, politics, and history. We'll be showcasing a series of blog posts from these students to share what the experience has been like in their words.

Blog Post #2 - Robert Wang

During the first week of our Taiwan global seminar, we experienced various different aspects of Taiwanese culture. The cooking experience with Wayne, National Palace Museum, and Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines were a few of the great learning experiences that I had to learn more about Taiwan’s history and its people.

Cooking with Wayne Lin

On the 19th of May, Lauren and Carol (our guide for our first week in Taiwan, she’s awesome!) took the group to meet up with Wayne, a local chef here in Taiwan. We were meeting Wayne so he could teach us how to make boba and dumplings. Before taking us back to his restaurant to make the food, Wayne brought us to a local food market and showed us many of the different ingredients unique to Taiwan.

market in taiwan

Wayne explaining different fruits to the group.

trying tea

Trying out different kinds of tea made by the lady to the right.

trying fish balls

Trying out some fish balls sold by one of the vendors.

After touring the food market, we then went to Wayne’s restaurant (it was in an apartment building up a few floors, which was awesome!!!). Once there Wayne began to teach us how to make boba. From what I remember, Wayne explained that the boba balls were used as a way to make tea popular again in Taiwan. After coffee was introduced to Taiwan, tea’s popularity decreased. Because of this, a tea shop owner created boba to re-popularize the drink. We ended up creating two different varieties of boba, one was pinkish red from dragon fruit, and the other was light yellow from pineapple. The boba tea ended up being delicious!

making boba

Making the boba balls from the dough we made.

After making and drinking the boba, we went on to make one of Wayne’s dumpling recipes. The way we made these dumplings was completely new to what I was familiar with. After putting the folded dumplings into the hot pan with oil and letting it cook for a little, we poured a mix of flour and water in and put a lid over it to let it finish cooking. I’ve never made dumplings like this before, and I’m excited to try it when I go back to the US.

eating dumplings

Everyone getting ready to eat the dumplings we made.

Visiting the National Palace Museum

On May 20, our class went to visit the National Palace Museum. Carol gave us a tour of the different artifacts being held there which was very fascinating. I was very intrigued by the Ding cauldron of Duke Mao. Inscribed on the cauldron are 500 different characters from the Zhou dynasty. Duke Mao gave the cauldron to King Xuan as a gift since the king rewarded Duke Mao with many gifts for his help in national affairs. It was cool to me that this cauldron was considered one of the most valuable artifacts in the entire museum due to the knowledge stored on it. Even though the cauldron itself doesn’t look like anything special, the characters that are passed onto future generations is what makes it special, which is awesome to me.

the Ding cauldron

Photo of the Ding cauldron of Duke Mao.

I also found it interesting that we are able to follow the different Chinese dynasties through the pottery and its materials and appearance. For example, the white vase with blurry blue art would indicate a certain Chinese dynasty, while the yellow plate without dragons would indicate another dynasty. It’s amazing that these artifacts are able to show a timeline of our past.

blue and white vase

Photo of the blue and white vase.

plate with dragons

Photo of the yellow plate with dragons.

Visiting the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

After visiting the National Palace Museum, we went to see a tour of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines. At this museum, the tour guide (not Carol, but one of the workers at the museum) brought us around the museum and explained to us various different aspects of Taiwanese aboriginal history. An interesting fact that stood out to me involved how one of the indigenous populations of Taiwan built their homes. They would dig out the earth so that the people would have to step down to get to the floor of the home. The doors were also very low so the people would have to stoop down and bend over to get in. This was done for a few reasons. One of the reasons was that it would be extremely difficult to get into the home, which made it easy to defend from invaders. Another reason that I found super interesting was that bending down would be used as a way to pay respects to their ancestors. What this indigenous population would do is bury their loved ones who passed away in the ground below the home. This way, their loved ones would stay with them. By bending down to get into the home, they were indicating their respect to those loved ones who passed away.

indigenous home

Photo of the indigenous home that you need to step down to get in.