TAS Voices: Appreciating Both Sides of the TAS Bubble

In this recurring series, we invite readers to find out more about the incredible people that make TAS the vibrant learning community we know and love. 

By Sophie Tsai, Communications Officer and Upper School Mandarin Teacher

 

People sometimes refer to the idea of “living in a bubble'', the idea that we sometimes are so comfortable in our daily lives involving school, work, family, and friendships that we do not ask many questions about what might be happening in the wider world, or why those things might be happening. 

I grew up in a bubble. I was born in Taipei in the 1960s, a city under martial law. The local education system I went through did not encourage questioning or curiosity. I moved from my educational bubble to another bubble, which was TAS. I was probably considered doing quite well in the “Taiwan bubble,” as someone who went through the local education system and later worked at TAS for 15 years, as the executive assistant to three different Heads of School.

 In 2010 I left the safety and the expectations of the Taiwan and TAS bubbles for the adventure of new cultures beyond this island. In those 10 years working overseas, when people showed interest in asking about Taiwan, I realized how little I knew about this place that I called“home” because I rarely asked questions, and I took things for granted while I was in that bubble. 

I started asking myself, what does it mean to be a Taiwanese? What are my roots? Is Taiwan a part of China? Is Taiwan a country? Many of these questions are deeply personal. And some of them are even dangerous to answer, depending on who you are talking to and where you are in the world. But they are necessary questions to ask ourselves, whether we are students, staff, administrators, parents, or alumni. They are necessary because each of us may have a different answer and a different point of view that in turn influences the way we see each other.

Like our graduates, the time away from the bubble both forced me to try to find answers and encouraged me to learn more about myself and Taiwan.

Many of my students consider Taiwan their home and this makes me wonder, as our school prepares them to be global citizens when it comes to the time for them to leave to pursue their dreams, do they have a solid understanding, or pride,  about their own roots and their identities? As a learning community, we can do more, and we should do more, to engage them so they are curious about their roots and proud of their identities before they leave Taiwan for the wider world.

As part of our JEDI initiative, discussions about identity have been taking place among faculty, students, parents, and staff members. As an upper school Mandarin teacher, my senior students discuss their pride and challenges that are associated with their identities. They find it helpful to have this type of conversation before leaving the bubbles. It is reassuring to know that they are not alone when facing certain challenges. 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I feel grateful to have the opportunity to work with students who are curious to find out more about their identities before leaving their bubbles. 

 

Ms. Tsai working with upper school students in the Initiative Formosa club's outreach program at Jianshi Jr. High School in Hsinchu county. 

 

「TAS Voices 來自社群成員的心聲」: 走出了台北美國學校的泡泡後我更珍惜這裡的一切 

在「TAS Voices 來自社群成員的心聲」這個文章系列裡,我們邀請讀者加入我們的行列,來認識在我們身邊讓這個學習社群充滿充滿活力的成員,也聽聽他們的故事和心聲

作者: 蔡麗紅, 通譯專員 暨高中中文老師

 

當我們每天忙著課業和工作,享受著友誼和家庭的溫暖時,往往會讓人忘了去關心和質疑 「泡泡」外的世界。

我是一個在台灣戒嚴時期出生的「五年級生」。 當時的台灣教育體系不希望學生發問,更不希望我們保有一份好奇心。畢業多年之後,我來到了另外一個泡泡,也就是台北美國學校。對於一個從台灣當地學校畢業的孩子來説,能夠到台北美國學校工作,擔任三位不同時期總校長的執行助理,對那時在「台灣泡泡」裡的人來說,他們可能覺得我做得還不錯。 

2010年時,我離開了這個安全又舒適的泡泡還有人們對我的期望,去世界上闖蕩,把我置身到一切都得從頭再來的陌生環境。在海外的10年中,每當有人想藉由我而多了解台灣時候,這個自稱為「台灣人」的我才發現我對台灣的無知。

在海外的時間裡我開始和自己對話—我想知道,作為一個台灣人代表的是什麼?我的祖先是從哪裡來、什麼時候來、怎麼來到這塊土地上?為什麼很多人說「台灣是中國的一部分」?台灣真的是一個主權的國家嗎?有些問題是關於「小我」,有些問題則是關於「大我」。看看你交談的對象是誰,或者處在世界的哪一個地方,有些問題需要非常有技巧小心地去回答。在美國學校這個學習社群裡。無論我們的角色是學生、教職員、行政管理人員、家長或者校友,這些問題的探索和討論也是必要的。因為我們每個人可能會有不同的角度和不同的出發點,而這些差異性就會影響我們對彼此的看法。

就像我們的畢業生一樣,離開泡泡以後的我開始有了動機,也需要多去了解我自己還有台灣。

在我目前台北美國學校的學生中,很多人也認為台灣就是他們的家鄉。這讓我不禁要問—在離開這片土地去追尋夢想前,在成為全球公民時,對於自己從哪裡來,到底是誰,根在哪裡,他們是否了解呢? 對於自己的身分和背景,他們是否懷有一份驕傲呢? 在離開他們的家鄉之前,我們能做什麼來讓對他們的根感到好奇,並為他們的身份感到自豪? 作為一個學習社群,我們還可以做得更多,也應該做得更多。

在台北美國學校,我們希望培養一種具有正義、平等、多元、和包容(JEDI)的社群文化,和一個和諧的共融環境。無論在教職員、學生或者家長之間我們已經開始對話來幫助大家更進一步了解彼此的身份認同(identities)。在我的中文班裡,12年級的學生也一起討論他們的身份帶給他們的驕傲以及挑戰。他們覺得,在離開台北美國學校這個泡泡前能夠有一個安全的環境敞開心胸來做這樣子的討論對他們有很大的幫助,也讓他們知道其實在面對一些挑戰時他們並不孤單。

在這個感恩的季節,我很感謝能夠有機會看到這群充滿好奇心的學子在離開這些泡泡,展翅高飛前,能夠主動探索更深入去認識他們深層的自我,在他們的故鄉把根扎下。