Wai-Taiwan? is the brainchild of me, Jade Star, and it has evolved tremendously over the past several years.
What’s with the Title?
The title of this blog is actually a play on words.
On one hand, if you speak Mandarin, you’ll know that the word “outside” or “foreign” is written 外 and pronounced wài (ㄨㄞˋ). That symbolizes the fact that I, the creator of this blog, am an outsider—on two levels: geographic (I live in Chicago) and ethnic (we’ll get to that a bit later). I write about the experience of being outside. Because that’s how I experience Taiwan, I invite people who live outside of Taiwan to share their opinions (regardless of their background).
On the other hand, as I’ve said many times, lots of people ask me “Why” Taiwan? trying to figure out my back story. Since having the experience of attending TaiwanFest in Toronto, I’ve started turning that question around and asking others for their Why Taiwan? stories too. In my mind, if you’re interested in Taiwan enough to be searching for a blog that’s exclusively about Taiwanese culture, chances are… you probably have a story somewhere in you.
The point being: the words “wai” and “why” sound similar. So, it just works.
Short History of Old Wai-Taiwan
This site has gone through a lot of changes. As such, the meaning of being “Outside” (Wai) Taiwan—for me at least—has changed along with it.
The site began as a tiny blog on WordPress(.com). I’d write about my trips around Los Angeles. After a while most posts became about visits to Taiwan-centric businesses or about studying Mandarin with tutors who encouraged me to dig into Taiwanese pop culture for listening and reading practice (but mostly for fun).
Later, I moved to Chicago. When I registered the domain name Wai-Taiwan.com, I thought it would be an interesting cultural site. However, it quickly turned into a self-reflective (and very personal) blog when I couldn’t quite explain to several insistent strangers why I (a Liberian American who speaks Spanish with an Argentine accent and lived in Taiwan for only one year) would spend so much time learning and writing about Taiwan. It was frustrating and, for some reason, I felt like I had to constantly defend myself and the site.
At first, I focused mostly on the experience of what it means to be an ethnic outsider. Those were the questions that came up most often. But now that I’ve spent a year writing about that, I feel like I’ve said just about everything I’d ever want to say on that topic. These days, I write almost exclusively about being a geographic outsider.
Creating a Lane for Wai-Taiwan
This year (2013), this site is going to be a lot more experimental. For now, I just want to focus on culture. And I’ll ask one question:
How do you connect with Taiwanese culture if you live outside of Taiwan?
There are a lot of ways to answer that question, especially when you start with “What is Taiwanese culture?”
Each post in every series is designed to start a conversation. I’ll share my personal experience as just one example of how someone can connect with Taiwan from the outside, but then it’s time to pass the keyboard to you. Hopefully, you’ll join in.
And if you have a lot to say… shoot me an email. I’d love a few guest posts and features from people who are dying to share their “Why Taiwan?” stories or who can explain how they personally connect with Taiwanese culture in their local area.