Taiwan is complicated. However, behind the geopolitics lies a truly diverse island. This diversity comes in many forms, predominantly in its cultural variety and breathtaking natural landscapes. WildChina Education celebrates this diversity, and from 2023 as international travel to East Asia becomes more accessible, we once again intend to showcase Taiwan’s wonders, delights, and stories to the educational world. If you are looking for a truly unique experiential learning opportunity for your students, you should plan your next school trip to Taiwan.
Is Taiwan even open to international travelers?
As many of you know, the Chinese Mainland is still off-limits to tourists. Although there are signs that inbound tourism could return within the next year, unlike Taiwan, there is still no timeline as to when this will be.
In what was music to our ears, earlier this year, Taiwan announced that it would open up to all vaccinated travelers from September 2022. This, therefore, will make Taiwan the number one accessible global destination to visit if you want to experience authentic Chinese culture.
However, there is a lot more than just Chinese Culture in Taiwan.
Why should you choose a school trip to Taiwan?
Aesthetically, the island is stunning. Towering sea cliffs, marble-walled gorges, and tropical forests are just a selection of what Taiwan offers. The diversity of different landscapes and types of terrain open up endless opportunities for those interested in learning about environmental protection, wanting to conduct geological fieldwork, and who wish to participate in outdoor adventure.
The relationship between Taiwan and Mainland China is, for lack of a better term, complicated. The Mainland claims that Taiwan is a province of the PRC. In contrast, the government of Taiwan claims that it is an independent democratic nation. It is an incredibly sensitive subject. However, after one glance at the island’s history, it is clear that differing claims on the ownership of Taiwan are nothing new. Over the previous few centuries, Taiwan has had many entities claiming ownership of the island. These include colonial powers, the Qing Dynasty, the CCP, and the ROC.
Historically speaking, Taiwan’s sovereign struggles over the years make it a fascinating place to visit. This is no more evident during a stroll through the island’s capital, Taipei, where one can bear witness to historical remnants of life under both Qing and Japanese rule.
However, as compelling as the history of Taiwan is, perhaps what is even more pertinent for this generation of students is that they have knowledge of the island in a contemporary context. This is because of the island’s ever-rising importance in modern geopolitics. Therefore, understanding the island’s importance is integral if you want to understand the contemporary world.
Taiwan’s history of being ruled by different entities also makes it one of the most culturally diverse places in East Asia. The years of changing rule have resulted in modern-day Taiwan obtaining a blend of international, Chinese, and Japanese cultures.
Taiwan is a place that holds onto traditions but also embraces the modernity of the globalized world. This has resulted in the development of a multi-faceted society and economy, which is no more evident than in the island’s aim for Taiwanese society to be fully bilingual (speaking Chinese Mandarin and English) by 2030.
WildChina’s Top Taiwan Programs
Culture and Language Immersion
Behind the modern skyline of Taipei and the outwardly looking globalized society lies a facet of Taiwanese culture that is vastly underreported. This is the plight of Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples.
To provide some context, the dynamic of Taiwan is that 97.7% of the population are ethnically Chinese, their descendants having emigrated to Taiwan during the Qing Dynasty or the Chinese Civil War. Unsurprisingly, this population imbalance has resulted in Taiwan’s indigenous population being severely underrepresented in Taiwanese society.
Like other types of indigenous populations worldwide, in Taiwan, the group known as the Amis suffer from high unemployment rates, and their access to good quality education is low.
In this program, your students will immerse themselves in the culture of the Amis. During your stay, you will live with an Amis family, visit the Kiwit Museum (a space designed to showcase the Amis’s traditional arts and crafts), and learn conventional hunting techniques used by the Amis.
As well as this, during the program, the group will also have the opportunity to experience modern-day Taiwanese culture. This will come from visiting some of the main sites in Taipei, including some of the most bustling night markets. Here students will taste local delicacies and practice their Mandarin Chinese with local vendors.
Geology & Adventure
Promoting good health and wellbeing is paramount to any WildChina Education trip, and this program is no different. Here, students will go on an adventure of Taiwan’s surrounding islands, which will provide them with firsthand knowledge of the diversity of landforms found in Taiwan.
Students will embark on a 3-day cycling tour of Ilha Formosa and visit some of the more unique environmental habitats found there. While on the island, they will have the opportunity to conduct geological fieldwork.
One of the options where this geological fieldwork can take place is at the Wushanding Mud Volcanoes. Here students can learn about the 3.5-meter-high mud volcanoes that erupt every few seconds, leaving thick mud to flow down their base.
Adventure & Service
Providing meaningful service work is integral for personal development in life. Students will work with local NGOs on this school trip to Taiwan. Spending most of their time in the depths of Taiwan’s rainforests, your group will get their hands dirty as they provide environmental conservation work. They will visit the world-famous Forest Culture Museum and learn about the efforts of the Sazasa people. A group that for 18 years has been interlocked in a battle against multinational consortiums who are intent on demolishing Taiwan’s ancient rainforests.
Moreover, students will also have the opportunity to learn about social initiatives intent on helping those less fortunate in Taiwan. Students will volunteer at the Genesis Social Welfare Foundation. A charity that supports single mothers by allowing them to earn a living from one of Taiwan’s most famous culinary delights, the sweet potato.
Whereas previously, ‘Made in Taiwan’ held negative connotations. Today, Taiwan is a technological innovator and can be considered to be one of the world’s leading producers of IT products.
This makes Taiwan the perfect place to participate in STEAM learning. Students will explore STEAM learning WildChina Education style on this school trip to Taiwan. This diverse program will have your learners embarking on a traditional gold mining experience, participating in an indigo-dyeing workshop, and exploring Taiwan’s technology industry in a robot-building challenge.