Sunday, September 20, 2009

"This Day in History..."

Though the effects remain, Typhoon Morakot passed through Taiwan over a month ago. The storm brought the worst flooding in over 50 years, and more than 500 lives were lost.

But ten years ago, today, Taiwan was rocked by an Earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter Scale. Thousands were killed, and an estimated 100,000 left homeless. Throughout my year in Taiwan, this was brought up dozens of times. The tragedy, and the National heartache carried from the 9/21 earthquake is on scale with our 9/11 or Katrina.

One of the valuable lessons I learned while being submerged in another culture is to uncover the experiences that create common ground. As members of the human race, one experience that unites us all is heartbreak and tragedy. Though my students were young when this national disaster took place, we were able to share our experiences in the classroom and doing so brought us closer together as a class.

Learning that we're all human, and we're all in this thing-called-life together was a big lesson for me this past year. People are People. Burn away the cultural quirks and the difference in language, appearance or religion, and what you will have in front of you is a person. Really. A person just like you. In fact, so much like you they could be a member of your family.

And to me, many of them did become part of my family. Aligning myself with the troubles and hardships of the people around me - really understanding what the hurt they've been through, and sharing in that burden with them - has taught me what it is to be a member of this race called human-kind.

As my journey moves me from foreign to familiarity, I hope, and even pray, I never grow deaf to those with needs that I can meet. I hope I never grow so comfortable that I forget what it is to be displaced.

Though I'm far from my friends, and my family, in Taiwan, I know the lessons they've taught me have not left my side.

Photo Credit: here


Andhari said...

Sooo right and so wise, Chase! That's what I feel for people, wherever they are and whatever they do too. You're such a considerate person, I can tell since you asked whether I'm okay when we had that bombing tragedy and the earthquake happened in Jakarta a while ago.

Thanks so much :)

Don said...

"As members of the human race, one experience that unites us all is heartbreak and tragedy." So true.

Also your conclusion: "People are people." I learned that traveling about the US in the mid-70's. (In my early 20's.)

And glad you are discovering that lessons learned in Taiwan are "sticking"! (I knew they would...)

;-) Don

Leon Koh said...

its crazy to see those apartment collapsing like that