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International Women’s Day Taiwan – 2024

A testament to the power of collective action, International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements and advocates for equality. This year’s theme #InspireInclusion urges us to dismantle barriers and build a world where all women, regardless of background or identity, can thrive.

This edition celebrates a few of the extraordinary women in Taiwan. By learning about their experiences, we can all be champions of #InspireInclusion, starting in our own communities. It’s time to be inspired, and it’s time to inspire others.

Mom (aka) Dipali Guha

Everyone calls her mom. She embraces us all with her generous spirit and feeds us copious amounts of her delicious home cooked food. Her cuisine hails from Lucknow and Bengal, two very distinct regions in India. On occasion, you may spot her dancing at the Blues Fest or at the Center Gala.

Dipali came to live with her family in Taipei about four years ago. Sujoy, Sue and Anjoli. 

When I asked her to share her life’s journey, I was amazed at how sharp and clear her memory was. Her story is 87 years long, but I thought this is a good place to start.

A Happy Childhood

Dipali remembers a happy childhood growing up in India, with siblings and parents that doted on her. “My grandmother called me Batashi because I used to run fast like the wind. Life was good. When I was 12, my mother passed away and my world changed. My carefree days were replaced by household duties and taking care of my siblings. 

When my father proposed I marry during my third year of college, I agreed because it seemed like a way to be free of the responsibilities. Without as much as a meeting, 22 year old Diplai and 24 year old Dilip got married and started their new life. Much later, my brother showed me the photo of me that my husband used to carry around in his pocket before we had met.”

Our New Life Together

“Our house was in a village surrounded by fields. We had no electricity. It was not the life I was used to but I adjusted. Soon after, we moved to another city and started our journey together. My husband was a geologist and his job required him to move from place to place, so we lived in many different places. I became an expert at packing. 

One of the reasons his family got him married so early was because they knew he was going to travel a lot and they didn’t want him to come back home with foreign bride. Both of us decided not to have children right away as we were still very young. We were the only married couple amongst many bachelor’s for quite a while and we would go on picnics with friends and enjoy our time together.”

Who has inspired you in your life?

Without skipping a beat she said, “My husband. I always wanted to be a teacher and tried to finish my studies so I could graduate. However, my father-in-law wanted me to stay with them so I never got to finish my degree. When my husband and I were together he would make me read the newspaper every morning and discuss the news in English. He wanted me to be fluent. 

After Sujoy was born, I started educating the sons of my house helper. I’m very happy to say that they graduated from school and went on to study further. They still write to me and keep me updated on their life. One became an assistant administrative officer and the other son was selected to train in the police academy. My husband always supported my choices. We had a wonderful life together.

The Twists and Turns Life Takes

On the 31st of December 2009, my life changed once again,

My husband had a stroke. It was frightening. We were on holiday in a remote area and had to drive all the way back to Calcutta for treatment. A 500 km journey that took 12 hours. After this scare, I decided the best thing to do would be to sell our home in Lucknow and move to Calcutta, to be near hospitals and family. It was a bad stroke that affected him quite severely. I had to learn very quickly about house sales, banking and other legal matters. Luckily I had some good people nearby who helped me through this difficult time. Rajesh was just like a second son and he helped me with everything.


Yet Another Beginning

Dipali's birthday in Taipei with Sujoy, Sue, Anjoli
Dipali Guha March 2024

Now I’m in Taiwan and it’s a whole other life. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been given this opportunity to be here and meet all these beautiful people. Everyone calls me Mom. I see these young girls and I feel like I am a young girl once again. They are just like me. I love having young people around. I love their energy and I love feeding them.

“My message to all young women is don’t be nervous, be strong. You have to face whatever comes your way.”

Girl Power at Guguan

“That’s it! You’re at the top!” Hearing that I took a deep breath and looked up at my surroundings. Sure enough, I was at the top of the rock with very little room to go anywhere except down the other side. I headed down to give the next person space. I could hear people saying “Use your left hand to hold the rung” and “Keep going! You can do it!” As the next person went up,  I gave similar encouragement while they were coming down.  Finally, we were all back together on the other side. When Dory asked, “Do we go on?” we looked at each other in silence. Someone said “Well there’s no way I’m going back over that!” and another said, “Yes, let’s keep going.” So onwards we went.

Guguan Seven Heroes

What were we doing? We were hiking the Yuanzui trail. It was day three of a short hiking trip to Guguan to hike a few of the Seven Heroes. A week before the trip Dory had asked us if we’d like to follow the Yuanzui trail and she sent us a link to a YouTube video. Replies varied from “Are you crazy?!” to “Think that’s too hard for me” and “I get vertigo.” The consensus was a definite no! So the itinerary was kept to climbing Heroes. However, after two fun days hiking together, Dory asked us again and I guess the newly-formed sisterhood gave us the courage to say “Why not?” and “Let’s give it a go.”

Yuanzi Trail

So there we were, giving it a go. After that first scary climb we had about five minutes’ respite with a walk along a tree-lined ridge. Then the next rock suddenly loomed up ahead. A sheer slab of rock, with scanty iron handholds leading up to a rope that went along the ridge top. My legs had that jelly-like feeling and I didn’t dare look anywhere except in front as we went up. Once again, Dory went first and when I reached her I had to walk on as there was no space to congregate. By now we had started to get into a groove. Dory pointed out things to me and I passed it onto the next person. The girls below would say “Move your foot left a bit” or “It’s just a bit further! You can do it” and then once at the top we would encourage the others coming up. There was definite teamwork going on here. This time the top was a long narrow ridge with a dip where we huddled together for a group photo.  About an hour and several rocky slabs later, we reached the summit. An hour after that, we had scrambled down the last sheer section of the mountainside and reached the safety of the forest. We were all grateful to return to a trail with gentle slopes on either side rather than a sheer drop.

Girl Power

At the same time, we were all elated and, looking back at the ridge, very proud of our accomplishment. We had pushed ourselves to our limits and done something we hadn’t thought possible. We definitely surprised ourselves. We all agreed that we made a great supportive group that was good at encouraging each other. Had we gone with our families it would have been very different. We would probably have heard phrases like “Come on Mum, don’t be a scaredy cat!” or “Look at me!” as a child hung off the edge knowing it would scare us. Or the typical teen complaint “How much further? I’ve had enough!” I think girl power is the preferred way to go. That’s why I can’t wait for our next adventure: Dabajianshan here we come!

Kartika Dewi

The most influential people in my life are my mentors; My Mother and My Teachers… They are a guiding light. They help me navigate the complexities of the world and providing invaluable advice and support during times of disruption.

Their wisdom and encouragement have helped me become resilient and adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. They’ve taught me the importance of perseverance, empathy, and continuous learning. This has shaped not only my professional journey but also my personal growth. Their impact on my life has been profound, and I’m grateful for their presence as a constant source of inspiration and guidance.

To start, living in Taiwan was certainly not as easy as imagined, especially for a newcomer like me.

I want to change people’s views here by showing my abilities and skills.

I really like arts and culture so that’s why I started doing a lot of social activities that promote Indonesian culture.

Starting with introducing Angklung music at the Taipei Fine Art Museum, and then introducing Angklung in elementary schools, to various cultural activities in Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan.

I also introduced Batik, starting with the Batik Festival exhibition at the National Taiwan Museum Nanmen Branch in 2017. This became an annual Batik Festival.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve lived in Taipei for 30 years and I really enjoy all the beauty and togetherness with the people here… Giving something back to society makes us appreciate each other.

Lucy Torres

The Beginning

I hold a British passport. However, having lived abroad for 17 of the last 27 years, I think I’m more of a global citizen. This is not at all what I imagined when I was little.

Early Dreams

I am an only child and I grew up in the countryside. I had my own pony from the age of six and spent hours riding. I used to dream of competing in horse events and living in a large house with several horses and dogs. Clearly life took a different path as I’ve been living in cities since the age of twenty! But that is what life is all about, being open to change.

Life is Unpredictable

Two weeks before I started university, I had a riding accident and broke my neck (C2 fracture) and jaw. I spent three months in halo traction looking rather like a robot and studied at home during my first term of university. To this day, I don’t know how, or why, I was so lucky; things could have been very different. That accident brought home to me how delicate life is and how you must make the most of every moment.

Family Support

I am very lucky to have parents that have always supported me 100%. They sent me to good schools and allowed me to have my horses. Although I left school with top grades they didn’t bat an eyelid when I chose not to go to university. When I changed my mind three years later, they supported my decision. My Dad passed away 17 years ago, but Mum remains on the end of the phone and is now there for my children as well. Knowing that my parents were behind me no matter what, gave me the freedom to choose my own path and for that I will be forever grateful.

Lucy Torres with her Mom

Following my dreams

I was quite shy as a child and lacked confidence, but I loved foreign holidays and learning about different countries. Once I turned 18, I grabbed any chance I could to go abroad. After secretarial college I worked in New York City for a year. While at university, I spent a term in Aachen, Germany. After university, I got a job as an editorial assistant with the hope of rising to editor. When I discovered that to be an English Language Teaching (ELT) editor I needed teaching experience, I chose to go to Mexico. I was nervous about those moves but loved the adventures and independence. Best of all, they increased my self-confidence as I had to survive on my own. Mexico is where my life path took a really big turn.

A Mexican Husband

Meeting Miguel, my husband of 24 years, was life changing. I ended up living in Mexico for three years and became fluent (almost) in Spanish. We have two boys – now young men. Finally, we embarked on a life of nomads living in nine places over the course of 24 years. This is a far cry from my childhood dreams … so much better! 

A Team

We have spent all our married life living in places that are not close to either of our families. As a result, we have had to rely on ourselves and each other to cope with the changes and challenges and be flexible. Every time we move to a new place, we experience those first few months when we don’t know anyone. We help each other figure out the new ways of doing things and are there for each other through the adventures and frustrations that new places bring. That support helps us settle in. 

It’s that encouragement that has given us the confidence to fulfil our ambitions. After Mexico, I returned to the UK and worked as an ELT editor which was exactly what I wanted. However, when Miguel was offered a post in another country, I realised I would have to leave my job. Rather than give up, I decided to adapt to the situation and I became a freelancer which turned out to be the perfect solution. Miguel was able to further his career and as a freelancer I could work anywhere, so we were able to travel. Over the years, as I gained experience, I progressed to ELT author. In hindsight, I think this is something that I wouldn’t have achieved had I remained in an office position. Taking the freelance path, which was rather unconventional at the time, was unknowingly a great career move. 

We are both determined people and our desire to accomplish whatever we set our minds to has led us along life’s interesting path. However, we couldn’t have done it without each other’s support and that of the family. 

 

 

So, my message to people is: Surround yourself with people who stand by you no matter what and remember: It’s your life. You must lead it and learn from it.

 

 

 

 

By Lucy Torres

別把最糟的脾氣留給最愛你的人

我是瓏朧,我的媽媽名玲鳳,她肯定不知道她是我最景仰的女性,

我跟大眾一樣青少年期做了許多叛逆之事,也因為玲鳳給了我許多的愛與寬容所以我仍生活在這個家庭裡,在這裡不稱為她媽媽是因為本篇想尊重她個人在我心中的多元身分,一個母親、多年好友、智者、導師,一位願意與時共進,花時間了解我們思維,跳框她出身的傳統框架來與我們溝通,玲鳳出身於漁農家庭,環境不富裕身為老大的她家庭總共有六個兄弟姊妹,從小一間扛起許多事物幫助家庭經濟,結婚的早嫁給看似富裕的畜牧家庭卻不巧遇上口蹄疫,又背負起許多債務,但我與弟妹卻並沒有像多數人般背負助學貸款,只因為玲鳳不願意剝奪我們的成長期權利,她總是默默的付出很少發脾氣,甚少情緒勒索道德綁架子女,總是有智慧的舉例換位思考是這讓家庭成員可以理解她的想法,人都有情緒做到這點非常不容易,印象深刻是,她常說:「我們這一生只來一次剛好當成家人,不該把最糟的脾氣留給最愛你的人,因為愛不是理所當然,愛是互相,我們要當彼此的後盾。」

早期傳統時代下壓抑女性的辛苦故事就不多贅述!

玲鳳的話在我心中,陪伴著我成長,她在艱辛的時代成長卻有著最強壯的溫柔,她的話在我人生不同的經歷下,每次咀嚼都有新的體會,也讓我堅強的面對許多事情,想把這句話送給大家,這裡也希望繼續與玲鳳共同成長,彼此都成為心中所期望的人!

Monica 張瓏朧 – On Instagram

Monica and her Mom
張瓏朧和她的媽媽。- Monica and her Mom

Don’t Give your Worst Temper to the One Who Loves you Most

I am Longlong, and my mother’s name is Lingfeng. She must not know that she is the woman I admire the most.

Like everyone else, I did a lot of rebellious things during my teenage years, and because Lingfeng gave me a lot of love and tolerance, I still live in this family. I won’t call her mother here because this article wants to respect her personal role. The multiple identities in my heart include a mother, a long-time friend, a wise man, and a mentor. She is willing to move with the times, take the time to understand our thinking, and communicate with us outside the traditional framework of her origin. Lingfeng was born in a family of fishermen and farmers. As the eldest daughter of a family with six brothers and sisters in a poor environment, she had to shoulder a lot of tasks from a young age to help with the family’s finances.

She married early into a seemingly wealthy livestock herding family, but unfortunately she encountered the foot-and-mouth disease and was saddled with a lot of debt. But my siblings and I did not have to bear student loans like most people. This is because Lingfeng was not willing to deprive us of our rights during the growth period. She always paid silently and rarely lost her temper. She rarely emotionally blackmailed or kidnapped her children. Wise examples and empathy allow family members to understand her thoughts. It is not easy to do this because everyone has emotions. What impressed me most is that she often said: “We only come together once in this life to become a family. You should save your worst temper for the person who loves you the most, because love is not a matter of course, love is mutual, and we must be each other’s backing.”

I won’t go into details about the hard stories that suppressed women in the early traditional era!

Lingfeng’s words are in my heart and accompany me as I grow up. She grew up in difficult times but has the strongest tenderness. Her words have gained new understanding every time I chew on them through different experiences in my life, and they have also given me a strong face. Regarding many things, I want to give this sentence to everyone. I also hope that I can continue to grow with Lingfeng, and both of us can become the people we want in our hearts!

Water and Clouds

by Nancy Chen Baldwin

A Precious Name

I am Nancy Chen Baldwin, an American name that I came to identify with most of my life.  My given birth name is Lai Shui Yun (賴⽔雲), meaning water and clouds, a precious name given by my birth father set my life path to a challenging yet wondrous and enriching journey. I am a Taiwanese native, born in the hills of Laomei, a small farming village in the township of Shimen in New Taipei City. I received my primary and middle school education in Taiwan. The first 14 years of life in my native country enabled me to retain my linkage with Taiwanese culture and its languages. My advanced college studies in the United States earned me a prestigious career in the American male dominated aerospace industry. My experiences as a senior executive in a large corporation and community leadership provided me with the opportunity to connect with people from various backgrounds and citizenship. My volunteer work has been and continues to focus on women’s rights, professional and leadership development for young adults, and life skill teaching for all ages.

Major Life Change

Life can be challenging and complicated. My major life change event came when I was sold by my maternal grandmother to a Taiwanese “bar girl” at the age of five for $100 US dollars. While giving away a daughter was not unusual during the 1950’s Taiwan, being sold gave me a different connotation about life. It motivated me to develop a strong sense of self worth. Living in post WWII Taiwan, I was caught in the transitional period of Taiwan modernization with influx of Chinese natives from the mainland and American GIs. I remembered being displaced by both the Taiwanese and the American communities.  My presence was not acknowledged by either of them.  For the Taiwanese, I was the unwanted child of a treasonous working woman servicing the American military men. For the Americans, I was a secret that they were not supposed to know. Under these circumstances, one would wonder if life was worth living. Yet the curiosity about the world on the other side of the Pacific sparked my will to live. 

Passage to Freedom

With good fortune, I was offered the opportunity to immigrate to the United States when my adoptive mother married an American merchant marine. This unexpected transition gave me the “passage to freedom” as it led to a journey of self discovery, growth, and healing. I spoke very little English when I arrived in San Francisco, California. American culture was foreign and often not easily understood. Since we lived mostly among Americans, it created urgency for me to learn English and adjust to the new lifestyle. With the help of teachers and school counselors, I attended University of California at Davis with a full scholarship. I graduated with two Bachelor degrees – International Economic and Oriental Languages. Later, I obtained a graduate certificate in business and a master degree in clinical Social Work from California State University at Sacramento.  During my academic years, I learned about social activism when I participated in anti-Vietnam war protests, Cesar Chavez’s labor movement, and Women in Politics lobbying activities. I believe these were my callings to seek my place in an unjust world. At those moments, I felt my life was bigger than the little girl who was sold.  

Challenges and Surprises

Nancy Baldwin Book Launch - COT 0324-4

I forwent my law school ambition when a luscious offer came from the United States Air Force upon my college graduation in 1972. Life came with many surprises. I joined Corporate America as a financial analyst and concluded my career as a Senior Engineering Director for a leading defense company in the US. I had no engineering degree nor formal technical training. I believe my mathematics and economic background have enabled me to learn quickly.  My ingrained Taiwanese values taught me the work ethic to be successful in my career. From my corporate experiences, I learned the politics of affirmative action, pay inequity, gender and race disparity.  I also learned to create opportunities for women and younger generations through mentoring and coaching. For over 40 years, I chose to live up to the challenges of a complex business world. As an immigrant Asian female, a non-engineer, who spoke with a heavy Chinese-English accent, I often clashed with the bi-cultural conflicts, but my strong will and pride triumphed.

One Thousand Layers of Water and Clouds

From the personal perspective, while I was able to achieve my academic and professional success, my childhood trauma surfaced from time to time.  I wrote my memoir, One Thousand Layers of Water and Clouds, as a way to heal, physically and spiritually. Through the process, I recognized the story is no longer my own, rather it is a reflection of the lives of young girls of my time.  I wrote the book for these women who didn’t have a voice. I want my story to inspire young generations and provide a forum to address women related social issues. 

“The lifelong learning from my adoptive grandmother has finally come to its fruition – love deeply, give freely, and be what we want to be with confidence.”

Nancy Baldin Bookclub COT 0324-1

I Am an Aboriginal Atayal Woman

Atayal Woman Penny Su Yang, Artist, Singer, Photographer

I am a singer, an artist and photographer. I have been a professional performer for over 30 years, and have a daughter and a son.

I started to create visual art when I was 48, and had my first photo exhibition in 2018. It’s 2024, and I feel so honored to have my first exhibition in a museum this year. Creating is important to me, to create is to discover yourself. Home has a lot of meaning too, returning back to yourself, but also back to your roots, your culture, your spirit life.

My upcoming exhibition is called 「Tmnga • Bsilung  / 看·海」; it means when you look, you look very patiently, for a long time, with hope, with your soul. It’s very poetic.

Go to the Ocean

From my hometown, you can see both the mountains and the ocean. I have a deep, strong connection with the ocean and when I was young, I would go for long walks.  That was the beginning of the story. One day, I prayed to God, “God what is the color of your eyes?”

This was the first time I heard a reply, God said “Go to see the ocean”. I did, and it immediately lifted my heart, and everything melted away. The ocean is God’s eyes…isn’t that magnificent? Always changeable, it creates a melody in my heart. The color of the ocean is a reflection of what is happening.

“我問上帝:

pqutan maku yaba utux kayal

「你的眼睛是什麼顏色?」

maynanu qu brbiru na roziq su

祂說:「你去看海。」

kmal mha ”usa tmnga bsilung ha”

In Atayal language we don’t have a word for color, but my friend said you can use bibiru, the universe, something that holds everything.

This exhibition is about the love between me as a woman and the sea; the ocean is not just the ocean, it is the universe; it is about my past, my childhood, everything.

I think women need to look more into our hearts. Women are playing so many roles: mother, daughter, wife…taking care of everyone but ourselves. So creating like this is to look more into myself and see how beautiful I am.

I’m also working on a new music album in Atayal language: 「3 cyugal / Three」

I think women are just waiting for the right time for all these stories we’ve collected inside us to burst out. I really encourage every woman to be true to herself. The album details came to me in a very powerful dream.

Three Women’s Stories  

My mother is already in heaven, but in my dream she walked into a house where an old woman was weeping on the bed. She started hugging her. The room was very dark, sad and lonely so I stepped in and hugged them. The three of us became a circle. The darkness became white light, like in your mother’s womb. I woke up and the power of it brought the number three to me. Three is the number of the universe :

  • Soul
  • Body
  • Mind
  • Sky
  • Ocean
  • Land
  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

The picture in my mind is of my daughter, my mother and I. My mother is a traditional woman, with a tattooed face, I am a modern woman, and my daughter is like an alien from the future. I wanted to do an album with three women’s stories. I am going to sing my mother’s story. It’s about tradition, generations of Atayal identity to leave behind for my daughter.

Go back to your roots. Go back to nature.

All indigenous people in the world face the same struggle. Our cultures are disappearing. But no matter where I am, I still feel proud to be Atayal. I live deeply as Atayal and all the memories live in my heart. My people are not afraid of death, because death is just a door. It’s not the end. I possess the character of an Atayal woman, unafraid and always singing, dancing and creating positivity. When we are weaving, we are always singing. It’s in our blood.

I decided to use old electronic instruments on this album, which I’m excited about. I have a very old friend who plays the theremin, invented in the early 1900s, which is on the album. It’s an experimental sound.

We are family, with this earth. Make an effort to unify, not to divide. You have to treasure who you are, where you come from, and then you can focus on unity. Women’s power is incredible, precious, we have so much potential, no matter the age. You can still unearth new things from within, every season, every age.

「Tmnga •Bsilung  /看·海」蘇婭 Suyang數位攝影個展 on FaceBook, on Instagram

時間:2024/5/19-6/23 (5/19開幕式下午兩點)

地點:順益美術館 Shungye-Art .Org /台北市中正區延平南路5號 – Shengye Musuem

Suyang-Penny ”Atayal Electronic Music Album-「3 cyugal / Three」”

Ms. Mona Yi 伊夢蘭

There are many women from whom I draw inspiration and get aspirations, but there is one in particular that’s close to my heart. Her strength didn’t just inspire and motivate me; it instilled something deep within me.

It’s 1950s, Taiwan. In the circle of photojournalists in Taipei at this time, there is only one woman, Ms. Mona Yi 伊夢蘭. She is young, fierce, and stylishly bold. Once, when she was interviewing President Chiang Kai-shek during the inspection of a military exercise, Ms. Mona Yi stood out in her big pink skirt and big sunglasses (one of her trademark looks). Running in between a few thousand participants while attempting to capture the story of the day, she was always at the center of the action, be it dignitaries or movie stars that landed at the Songshan Airport, Taipei.

Early in her career, Ms. Mona had tried acting, a job that she didn’t like much. It wasn’t for her, she once told me. She often said that luck has always been on her side. But I know she was being humble. “Luck” got her a job as the host of a popular radio show, but soon after, she landed an  assignment covering Hong Kong and Taiwan entertainment stars. This was the beginning of her photojournalist experience.

Mona Yi 伊夢蘭 Full Reporter Mode

First Female Photojournalist in Taiwan

Ms. Mona was the first female photojournalist in Taiwan; she has been on the frontlines, where women weren’t  even allowed. She was also a pioneer who produced documentaries to promote the arts, culture, and tourism in Taiwan. Ms. Mona Yi went on to work with the International Audiovisual Room of the Information Bureau, where her horizons broadened even more. She was responsible for planning and shooting a 16-centimeter documentary about Taiwan. As an executive producer, during her tenure at the Information Bureau, she filmed many documentaries, including ”Along the River During the Qingming Festival,” showing how several famous Taiwanese contemporary artists paint; handmade bamboo weaving in Guanmiao, Tainan; Dajia straw mats in and hats in Taichung; and much more. These documentaries were sent to foreign embassies and/or overseas Chinese communities for the purpose of promoting Taiwan.

Mona’s Journey as a Military News Reporter

One of Mona’s defining moments came during the Taiwan Straits Conflict. Despite her fears of the artillery fire, she bravely covered the story. She gives credit to the senior journalists and editors who mentored her, and shared their expertise in military weapons, writing techniques, and fact-based reporting.

This experience also helped her learn how to write press releases. Since women were not allowed to board warships during those times, Mona was lucky enough to get to Kinmen via a military aircraft, for a historic interview mission.

For the later part of her 36+ years as a reporter, she was responsible for Pan Asia, a Japanese Jiji Press News Agency, as the correspondent in Taiwan. Even to this day, a woman journalist in Japan is rare, and a senior-level manager even more so.

伊大姐” “big sister” Yi  

The foreign journalists stationed in Taiwan would call her “Mama,” because she made them feel at home in Taiwan. She was always a gracious host and grateful for the life she has led both professionally and personally. She made everyone feel at home with her bright smile, caring yet often sarcastic humor, and her signature loud, infectious laugh. Her tenacity and wit also earned her the respectful “伊大姐” “big sister Yi” title from her co-workers, even though many were older in age and had more experience in the profession.

Mona Yi 伊夢蘭 cot 0324-4
Great Grandma Mona with grandson Jabez, continuing her legacy with the next generation

A Seat at the Table

And as for me, “Grandma Mona” is what I called her. I have had the privilege of sitting at the table next to her from a very young age. She made sure I was exposed to an environment where I could observe and learn about social, cultural, and current events, etiquette, and provided me with encouragement and support. One of my many favorite memories is at her office, listening to her stories while drawing on the stationary she provided.

In my heart, I believe that Grandma Mona wanted to instill in me that no matter what the world attempts to tell me, I, a woman, will always have a seat at the table.

Learn more about Mona 伊夢

For more about Mona and other first generation photojournalists in ROC, Taiwan, ”They Are Eyewitness Of History” by Yuan-Chic Yang “他们是历史的目击者: 選文 楊永智

By Rose Huang

Sara Khosrovani

Artist: Sara Khosrovani

Painting: Light as a feather, 2018

Type, Size: Acrylic | 120 * 100 cm.

Celebrating Women’s Day

It is a pleasure to contribute to this special edition of Centered On Taiwan marking International Women’s Day.

I have had the pleasure of featuring here before and it is a joy to participate again on this occasion.

International Women’s Day is a celebration of the achievements of emancipation and gender equality recognition. At the same time it serves as a reminder of the constant struggle of too many people in the world to find a place of their own, a place where they can express themselves in the purest form, without fear of being restricted in any way and to be accepted as they are by their fellow human beings. 

It is still an unfortunate reality that many women in the world are subjected to systems of oppression and are desperate for a breath of fresh air.

Art is a strong medium for expressing these desires. Through art the longing for well overdue change is reflected in many wonderfully inspirational ways.

In my art I too look for ways to express these profound human feelings. This painting is an example with a personal touch. It reminds me of many episodes in my life and it is very dear to me.

I hope this day allows you to reflect not only on the achievements of the past but also on the unfortunately still uncertain present.

https://www.instagram.com/sarakhosrovani_art

Being a Bridge for People

I have been working as the director of the Thermos Foundation for more than 20 years. Whether it be art, culture, education, or humanitarian concerns; Indeed, anything related to “Life.” If you wish to know what Thermos Foundation’s missions are, I will say giving “Life education” is our most thorough answer.We believe it is an indispensable obligation to help society, no matter how small the deed.

Insight & Vision

My insight, vision and mission was built up by all my life experiences, especially some people I have encountered in the journey of self-discovery. That’s why I am going to say something about them to show my appreciation and respect. They are always helping me to reflect on myself and get back on the track that I decided to take.

Peoples Support

My father is the man who helped me understand what generosity and humor means. My mother is the lady who taught me discipline. My sister showed me what family support means. My first boss led me to be brave, be curious, and be a good listener. What a lucky life! Also, the young Nepalese boy who dedicated himself to wildlife conservation; the Cambodian lady who helped widows and orphans; the Japanese monk who practices Zen gardens; Malaysian designers who built a poetic shelter for poor kids; the Tibetan grandma who always cooks with love; the Sherpa porter who took care of me in the Himalayas; the Indian social-worker who took care of vulnerable women in slums; the French doctor from Médecins Sans Frontières who spent his time with the wounded; the Chinese painter who tries to present his ideal world through art; the German professor who tries his best to offer all his knowledge to the students and so many more. Of course, the people I have talked to and listened to over the past decades in Taiwan have also lit up my life’s journey.

I am Blessed

I am extremely blessed to have met these great souls in my life. All interactions with them have benefited me tremendously and helped me understand the value of my life. Year by year, I got the big picture and created the life I am grateful to have now. I am still learning to make my life more insightful so that I can benefit many others before I say goodbye to the world.

What Does Life Mean?

What does life mean? Who am I? Why was I born on this planet? After countless whys, I can only be thankful that I learned how to love, to laugh, to create, to share, to give, to care, and to let go. I learned to be kind, joyful, curious, generous, passionate, and compassionate. I discovered how to be real, simple, strong, open-minded, positive, active, and thoughtful. And I also know the reason I could achieve whatever I tried is all because of the people I encountered on my path.

The most important mission of life will always be to be a bridge connecting people to help them feel hopeful. And sometimes, when I might feel a bit weak or even frustrated, I will always empower myself by thinking of the conversations I had with the bright souls I have mentioned here. 

Or maybe just their smiles can work enough. Yes! That will be enough.

by Sarina Yeh

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