BEHIND THE WORK
In 2016, TAIWANfest made a major shift in its festival format with the aim to foster and advance the conversations on Canadian diversity. By showcasing Taiwanese arts and culture, the festival explores connections amongst Asian cultures and offers opportunities to learn and reflect on our past. Dialogue with Asia, originally a five-year plan, was established for the Taiwanese community to generate dialogue with five of the largest Asian communities in Canada. Beginning with the social activism theme, we saw how the younger generations in Hong Kong and Taiwan embrace progressive values presented in the context of activism in Canada. In 2017, the influences of Japanese colonization on Taiwan was explored through discussions on identities for Canadians. In the following year, it explored the Austronesian connection between Taiwan and the Philippines which was the earliest ties between the peoples of the two island nations, and how the migration of people has also made both cultures two of the most diverse in Asia. In 2019, the journey for many Vietnamese to Canada serves as the backdrop of how people have been displaced through wars and politics despite cultural ties; nevertheless, new cultural identities have also evolved in Taiwan, Vietnam, as well as Canada. After a brief pause of the pandemic year, the dialogue resumes between Taiwan and South Korea. For most people, we often see cultures with our stereotypical perspectives leading to the connections and complexity in many Asian cultures often being lost. One of the most important examples is how democracy has impacted the cultural evolution in a different direction for Taiwan and South Korea despite both having a tremendous shared past in Confucianism and Japanese colonization. ReThink Asia is a good reminder to encourage people to take a deeper look into Asian cultures; it is perhaps more interesting and exciting than some who intentionally try to shape your views on Asia.
Contributors: Lily Ding / Mina Lu / Toy Su / Jessica Sung (Alphabetical order)