'One Thing I'd Change About Taiwan'

Originally published in Expat Chat, p.10, The China Post, Sunday 11/23/08

Rachel Morris, 27, is from Redcar, England and has been teaching English in Taipei 3 years.

RACHEL: The salaries for teachers haven’t changed in a long, long time, more than 8 years I’ve heard. They should adjust the teachers’ salary based on inflation. After going home and coming back, I thought, “How did everything get so expensive?”

Obviously, inflation’s gone up across the world; but salaries haven’t gone up even for the Taiwanese people. I reckon it should be a NT$700/hour base rate for teachers by now, easily. And I think the workload has gotten bigger.

Also, I’d change the traffic system to make it so people have to bloody learn how to drive. It drives me insane how they are always turning right in a left-hand lane.

Chris Churcher, 28, is from England and is a director for a Taipei production company.

CHRIS: I would change the television. The TV here is atrocious. There’s nothing to stimulate people; it doesn’t have anything to offer the viewer. Television programs in Taiwan are mind-numbing and nonsense. I would create regulations for TV channels to stipulate certain broadcasting standards, where some kind of educational element has to be represented and so that when things really need to be discussed in this country it’s not masked over with nonsense.

In order for Taiwan to progress as a nation, it has to focus on intellectual property and the creative industries, and there’s no way Taiwan can be a leader in those areas without a change in thinking.

People need aspirations in order to have direction in life, and when the media is so banale and lacking in inspiration, people’s creativity is left to dwindle; their thoughts do not become things.

Let’s have an educational program on the arts somewhere in the schedules, instead of trash. I’m not saying there isn’t room for light entertainment or that there’s anything wrong with watching the ban ban tan boys, but Taiwanese television is awash with these sorts of programs and reactionary, wishy-washy news broadcasting. The people need to be inspired to think innovatively and intelligently.

LAURA, 25, studied at Oxford University: What would I change about Taiwan? I think the educational system. It’s still outdated, unorganized and inept. For a school of administration, it’s programs, classes and professors leave LOTS of room for improvement to reach international standards. The professors are good, but the classes don’t promote discussion, ideas or arguments. It’s still just a base lecture. At the master’s level, I feel it should be more interactive, rather than just spitting facts at you.

Even applying to get in was so complicated, I had to do it three times. They’d tell me, “No, you did it wrong,” but I’d followed the directions on the website. It depends on who you talk to and how they’re feeling that day.

– Interviews by Trista di Genova