With its sandy beaches, expansive night markets and delectable food, the small country of Taiwan contains treasures that many American students may be unfamiliar with. Senior communications major Jackie Hsu hoped to fill in the knowledge gaps Drexel students may have about this Southeast Asian country May 5. Hsu presented her senior project the “Taste of Taiwan” on campus to share and promote knowledge about her home country.
“‘Taste of Taiwan’ is a cultural event that celebrates the country of Taiwan,” Hsu expressed, introducing the pacific island off the coast of China.
“It is known as ‘the heart of Asia,’” Hsu said. “The purpose of this event is to encourage Drexel students to travel to Taiwan or even do co-op [there] if they really don’t have time to just travel,” she continued.
Hsu began by presenting a variety of information about Taiwan, from its geographical location to the different places to visit there to the popular and delicious Taiwanese cuisines.
Among the many big Taiwanese tourist attractions Hsu mentioned in her presentation was the Longshan Temple, which was built in 1738 and is located in the city of Taipei. Over the years, the Longshan Temple has been damaged in many natural disasters, but it remains a significant part of the Taiwanese culture.
“Taipei residents have constantly rebuilt and renovated the temple,” Hsu shared with the audience. “It is a place where generations of locals will come to seek good fortune, good health and even the guidance of who to marry,” she continued.
Aside from the temples, Taiwan is also well known for its many lively night markets, which are usually open from 6 p.m. to midnight.
“Personally, I have never been able to finish going around a whole night market in one night because it is so big. It is not just one street going all the way down. It branches off into little alleys,” Hsu explained. “These night markets have everything and are relatively cheap. You can get food, clothes and you can even play little night market games,” she continued.
Another location that Taiwan is known for is the Kenting area, which not only has a beach, but more night markets.
“People like to go here [Kenting] because it is kind of like Hawaii but a smaller Asian version,” Hsu said. “They can go surfing, scuba diving and do other summer water activities,” she continued.
However, Taiwan is not only known for the fun places to go to and activities to do, but also one for its delicious food and drinks. For example, Bubble Tea, a popular Asian drink is originally from Taiwan. Hsu gave free bubble tea to the first 10 people who were in line for Taste of Taiwan.
“There are so many delicious food[s] in Taiwan,” Hsu emphasized. “An example is stinky tofu, which is fried fermented tofu with a really strong smell,” she explained. “People either hate it or love it. I used to be scared of eating [it], but I tried it one day and fell in love with it. You cut up the tofu and you put [on] spicy sauce and eat it with the Taiwanese pickle or shredded cucumber,” she continued.
Hsu also described and presented pictures of other popular Taiwanese cuisines such as oyster omelette, pig blood cake, braised pork rice and shaved ice. While she was not able to serve all of the food she presented, Hsu made sure to give the Drexel students who came a literal taste of Taiwan by serving them samples of Taiwanese food.
“The presentation itself was very educational and I learned a lot,” sophomore nursing major Luan Ta said on Hsu’s project. “I had the opportunity to try the food at the end and it was absolutely amazing.”
Although Taste of Taiwan was prepared and completed in order to fulfill her senior project requirement, Hsu genuinely feels passionate about wanting to share her culture with others.
“I got the idea [to do this] when I was in my sophomore year. I went to this Chinese girl’s event [for her senior project] and it was basically the same thing but for China,” Hsu explained. “Another reason is because I have met so many people who know so little about Taiwan, so I wanted to introduce people to Taiwan,” she continued.
Taste of Taiwan resulted in a good turnout. Most of the students who attended learned more about Taiwan and left wanting to experience the country and its culture more.
“I decided to go because I have always been interested in Taiwan and I always wanted to learn more about their culture. I have never been to Taiwan, but I have always wanted to go,” Ta shared.
“This presentation gave me a lot of options of locations to visit. The first on my list is the night market, Shilin,” he said, referring to a night market located in northern Taiwan.
Senior graphic design major Vince Dunne helped Hsu design a poster for Taste of Taiwan that showed not only the physical structure of Taiwan on the map, but also allowed a glimpse into the country’s culture.
“I helped Jackie by designing a poster for her event which uses a traditional Taiwanese floral pattern and a color palette based on the Taiwanese flag,” he explained.
Dunne also hopes to someday find time to visit the country. “I have not been to Taiwan, but this event has increased my desire to visit,” Dunne said. “I race bikes for Drexel University and Taiwan seems like a great place to ride with its coastal road and steep mountains. I also like to immerse myself in a culture that is very different from my own here in Philly,” he continued.
Hsu is content with the overall outcome of the event. She continues to hope that knowledge of Taiwan will continue to spread throughout campus and that many students will find time to visit the country and learn more about the Taiwanese culture.