Serving with passion

Dr. Albert Tang, currently Associate Professor in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies at Fu Jen Catholic University, has obtained his doctoral degree in cross-cultural studies (comparative literature and visual studies),a master degree in mass communication (advertising, Television, film and journalism) and a bachelor in English language and literature (drama, translation and situated English). His academic interests range from Chinese Cinema(s), Cultural Studies, to new media arts, inter-Asian cultural management, both domestic and abroad.

While TAindia continues its service at FGS this year,
 an interview was taken with Master YU CHEN 
for better  understanding of FGScontribution 
to the local community and TAIndia’s future
Dr. Tang has been producer for two artistic works, Penalty of Peity: the Benedictine Beginning of Fu Jen Catholic Univesity in Peking (2006) and Moral Compass: Fr. Bauer in Taiwan (2013). He has worked for Taipei Golden Horse Film Fetival in 1990 and 1996 respectively and be responsible for VIP reception, Tainan film exhibition, special anthology editting and ceremony presiding. He also translated and edited more than 8 books in the field of critical and media studies. He's been Head of Mass Communication, Director of Academic Exchange Center and other positions in Fu Jen Catholic University, deputy-Secretary for UMAP (University Mobility for Asia Pacific) Taiwan, founding Secretary-general and board member of Cultural Studies Association Taiwan (1998-2004) Since 2011, he has traveled with MOFA-sponsored International Youth Exchange Program to UK, Isreal, Atlanta and Miami, and the Asia Pacific.

Professor Tang has been engaged in volunteering and service learning activities. He has led student delegations to India since 2013-2017. He's now President of Chinese Youth Goodwill Association which paid its first visit to Brisbane, Australia (2015), Semarang, Indonesia (2017).

What inspired you to be the faculty of TAIndia 2017?
TAIndia 2017 received a big card of appreciation 
from students of Grace Ling Liang English School
 for her service in Chinese teaching at
the academy from Jul. 26 to 28, 2017.

I've been serving as supervisor for such service learning delegation since 2013. I myself has been chosen as a member of Chinese Youth Goodwill Mission (to visit Europe and the Middle East) when I studies in Fu Jen. Also, I serve as Director for International Youth Ambassador Program (sponsored by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC) from 2011 (to UK), 2012 (to Israel), 2013 (Atlanta and Miami), 2014 (Asian Pacific). Those activities had widen my perspective and broaden my Weltanschauung ( "world view"). Hence, being a faculty to such student-organized activities, can better give profound feedback, solid training and humanity-bed sharing for my student--partners. The experiences also enrich my observation and understanding of Grand tour and Will to serve others of the younger generations.
For TAINdia 2017, in particular, I initiated to propose such new combinations, Kolkata and Delhi, Mother House and Tangra, volunteering and service learning, historical tourism and Cultural Studies. It's a new way of creative thinking in modeling the program. I, therefore, will be delighted to work with the partners, to prevail the spirit of TAIndia (Taiwan and India, Brothers and Sisters as a world).

How important is to for young people to volunteer and do community service? What has been the general feedback of volunteers?
Volunteering and community service, to young students nowadays, provide a window for them to better reflect their own ways of living and knowing the world by physical mobility and further motivating they to materialize their future life goals. Apart from academic studies and extracurricular activities, volunteering and community service articulate different layers of critical reflection of social relations and intercultural communication. Transformation of personal stereotype toward certain groups are highly expected and possibly evolved into CHANGE of life attitude in the future in our reflection every night, our partners share their volunteering experiences in terms of their first-hand observation, group interaction and social interpretations. They are motivated to portray different mirrors of INDIA landscapes, and to better comprehend the humanistic trajectory of missionaries of charity and other NGO institutions. They found their heart purified, and their mind more peaceful, and great leap toward their own inner growth, both intellectually and psychologically.
On Aug 5,TAIndia meetsChinese majors from JNU
 to exchange views and share academic experience in 
universities from both sides in English
and mandarin.
What were the best aspects of your experience in India?
Personally, the best aspects of my Indian experience lies in the hospitality of local friends, whose-heartedness from our perception of the NGOs, NPOs, and incredibility of interface of Chiense-India cultural mapping, such as Tagore. Research-based approach to service learning has led to much knowledge of the history down-to-earth, such as Chinese diasporas in India, White Town Colonial terrain, and contemporary India society.

What kind of impact do you think TAIndia have had on youth of Taiwan?

TAIndia 2017 incorporates students from Fu Jen, Jadavpur University (KOL), JNU (Delhi) and Lingnan university (HK) to share young people a possible way of MEETING the world via love and action, and a trial to jump out our the comfort zone (to INDIA) to look for potentiality of strength and perseverance. This will demonstrate to Taiwan's youth an alternative path for a more meaningful and fruitful performance other than academic studies and stiff thinking. Also, India, a country alive of mysterious legends and sometimes demoralized by media, is accessible and should be repainted with humanistic colors of social concerns.

TAIndia 2017 stands in front of 
Missionaries of Charity 
aka Mother’s House initiated
 by Saint Teresa in 1950.

What do you wish for the future?

As mentioned by several contact windows in India, TAIndia will aim to continue its work in the future, with more collaboration among various institutions, such universities, NGOs, NPOs...etc. We've taken, especially, contact with quite a few organizations in Delhi, Jaipur, Sillong. TAIndia hopes to include more space with more Indian students, too, to work together for more activities with social improvement and self growth.

- Photographs by Jerry Hsiao

New musical encounters

Iranian-born percussionist Fakhroddin Ghaffari aka Sina has mastery over multiple Persian and Middle Eastern percussion instruments including his principal instrument, Tombak, as well as Darbuka and Daf. He has been studying Indian Classical Music for more than a decade and now doing his Ph.D in the same while working on various musical projects and cross cultural activities between Iran and India. He co-founded the Viuna Music Ensemble in 2004 and the Mehr Ban Ensemble in 2011 to promote the harmony between Persian and Indian music. Sina is the founder of World Ethnic Music Ensemble (W.E.M.E.) - very unique combination of musicians from different parts of the world

What inspired you to learn Indian Classical music?

I am from Iran. There is lot of connection between Persian music and Indian music. Indian classical music has been influenced by Persian music since the 16th century after the Mughals arrived from Persia. I always had a big interest for Indian classical music. I was always curious about Indian classical music. I started learning it as an academic and just continued.
How much has Indian classical music influenced your playing?

Tabla has influenced my playing on a very large scale. It has given a different perspective of how I am looking at my instrument. Though I don’t play table but I play a lot of tabla repertoire on my instruments.
Could you share some light on the World Ethnic Music Ensemble (WEME).

It is a collaboration of musicians from Iran, India, USA, Afghanistan, and France .Most of the compositions are original compositions that I compose myself. Since everyone belongs to different musical traditions they bring different colours to the compositions. . Some of the compositions have Western Classical vibe while some are on a solid Indo-Persian rhythmic cycle and have the same melodic form. The compositions are mostly based on Middle Eastern music and European folk music. Some of them are also based on Indian classical and Indian folk music. Dance can helps the music reach the audiences in a better and clearer way that is intended, that is why one some of the pieces we have dance as well which are choreographed and performed by Lise Moulet, a dancer and choreographer from France
Tell us about your most memorable concert.
I would say sharing the stage with Abida Parveen . It is a special moment for me!
What do you strive to convey through music?

Music always has a message of peace. I mean inner peace. It’s about finding yourself and being peaceful to yourself. I don’t think anyone can think of a world without music. My vision is to spreading this form of music – a new genre and vision.

What are your thoughts on Persian music and its connection to Iranian culture?

Iranians are very attached to Persian music. Music is in the blood in the vein of every culture.  The only segment of the culture people are most connected to is the music. The richness of Persian literature can be seen in their original compositions. The mysticism of Persian classical music is rooted in the poetry.
You do lot of collaborations. How important are collaborations for a musician.

As a musician, collaboration is very important to me. Since every collaboration is a classroom for one to learn and find out new capabilities of one’s art. For instance it has been an amazing learning experience for me while performing with the Sufi Gospel Project. With this genre of music I have to play my instruments in a different way. It is important to collaborate otherwise you will be stuck up in what you only know. Music is so big. One needs to explore other forms.

From Storytelling to Nation Branding - Seung Ah Kim's Story

Seung Ah Kim is the founder of Arirang Storytelling Concert. Inspired by the folktales her grandmother told her as a child, Seung Ah tells Korean folk stories in a dynamic and interactive way that is engaging for audiences of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Her performances combine traditional Korean folktales and mythology with contemporary stories from her own life. As a pioneer Korean professional storyteller, she has travelled across all the continents to bring Korea to the world through her stories and tales, and has developed “K-STORYTELLING” as a new facet of Korea’s nation branding. This world tour includes various performances, workshops, and events focused on Korea, its culture and its people, extraordinary and ordinary heroes. Recently Seung Ah Kim shared Tiger Stories from Korean Folktales at Gyan. Manch,Kolkata organised by Wild Strawberry.

What inspired you to come up with the idea for K-Storytelling World Tour Project?
Storytelling is my passion and my life. I truly want to share Korean stories and my love for storytelling with more people in the world. That has been my dream so I have been travelling many countries to share Korean stories and culture since I became a professional storyteller. In Korea I have been trying to introduce storytelling as an art form and to establish a storytelling association and a K-Storytelling Center for 10 years. But I couldn’t make it happen. One day with broken heart I was crying. I lamented “God, why people in Korea don’t appreciate storytelling more than ones in other countries? Why nothing happened even though I tried so hard?”

At that moment an idea hit upon me. “Seung Ah, just think of bright sides. Look you have many friends and fans outside of Korea. They all appreciate what you are doing. Just go and tell stories and share stories with 1 million people. 1 million people out of the whole population of the earth are nothing. If 1 million people appreciate your storytelling and donate money to support your dream, you can establish a K-Storytelling Center in Korea.” Then I started to contact my friends in different countries and told them about the K-Storytelling World Tour Project. Since they are storytellers and story lovers, they all supported my idea. That’s why I am here in India. India is my third destination after the USA and Taiwan. Since June 2017 my world tour started. I was the first donator for this project. I cleared my house and put my things in a container near Seoul. I set off my journey. Through this world tour project I have learned so many things and met so many people. Working with my storytellers friends in each country I visited is a lot of fun. We could understand each other more and sharing ideas about promoting storytelling to people. Automatically all of journey is full of adventures and stories which give people more understandings about storytelling and storytellers. We all believe that we will make it happen. Do you why? We are all small heroes.
Why is storytelling important to children in this digital-world?
Storytelling gives us chances to see images through our mind eyes, to feel the vibration of the voice of our storyteller, to make eye contact and interact heart to heart. These are all the things we have lost in the digital world. 

It is often said that storytelling and story-listening can contribute to children’s intellectual, emotional, and social development. Could you please throw some light on that?
Storytelling and story-listening are like the sunlight and the moonlight in our life. As the sunlight makes trees grow bigger, storytelling and listening help our knowledge and wisdom grow bigger. As the sunlight gives warmth to the earth, storytelling gives warmth in our life. As the moonlight guides you in the darkness, storytelling enlightens your life.

Do you have advice for parents looking to try storytelling with their kids?
My advice is “Never feel burden when you tell stories to your kids”. Most of parents feel that storytelling is a duty as good parents. But storytelling is a heart to heart communication. It delivers not only stories but also feelings. Telling stories to your kids should be the same as making food you like and sharing it with your kids. If you simply think sharing your favorite stories with your kids, you will feel more comfortable. When you learn something new from your daily life, you can share it with your kids. If you heard something fun or touching from your friends, you can share it with your kids. Also listening to your kids’ stories are good. After listening to them, you can share your opinions, feelings or other stories which come up your mind. If you really want to share stories with your kids, your kids will feel your passion and love even though you don’t have any skills in storytelling.

What role, according to you, does storytelling play in the classroom? How can teachers use storytelling in the classroom?
In old days, even nowadays storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in education. We can Google information so easily now. That means people can get knowledge everywhere. But not so much wisdom. Storytelling is all about wisdom and inspiration. So in this digital era, the function of schools is focused on more human things and more social things. In the classroom through teacher’s voice and eye contact students can get more inspired. If teachers tell stories that could be more fantastic because storytelling creates very strong connection and motivation. Let’s just what smartphones cannot do for students. The answers will be what only teachers can do.

People have forgotten how listen, tell and share a story. Stories are endangered and, I fear, if not shared will get lost. As a storyteller what are your thoughts on this?
Yes, we are losing the oral tradition. But luckily there are storytellers and story lovers in the world. In Canada I came across to read a slogan from a poster of ‘the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program’, it has been in my mind as a storyteller. “Stories are treasure to share.” In modern society when people think about treasure not many people consider stories as treasure. As a storyteller I have found that stories and our tradition are blessed heritage. I feel like I am a billionaire heiress. We cannot measure the value of stories as we cannot measure happiness. Since I became a storyteller I have been experienced happiness simply by sharing stories and culture. I have seen smiles from my audience’s faces and lights from their eyes. I know we cannot buy those things with money. That’s why I want to devote myself to keep storytelling tradition alive. I strongly believe as long as storytellers exist in the world, we will keep telling stories and the stories will be spread out all over the world. 


Volunteering: A Life Changing Experience

Angela Chen studies at the Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University. She is a freshman at Mass Communication. She is also a children art class teacher, teach magic, modeling balloon and board games. She was one of the co-leader for TAIndia 2017.

In Grace Ling Liang English School,
we taught them the colors meaning
 of Peking Opera and made masks.
How did you get involved with TAINDIA ?

When I was 17, I wanted to do service learning abroad to gain more life experience, and I also learned some cultural differences between India and Taiwan at school. Before entering Fu Jen Catholic University, I met a girl who was anex-member of this India group. She recommended me to join this team, and so I took the chance.

What's the most rewarding part of your experience working at the Shanti Dan?

At Shanti Dan, the living and health condition of the children are worse than those of my country and I am ashamed that I complained all the time. I really appreciate it that the children who made me realize how lucky and blessed I am. From their happy faces, what I have done at Shanti Dan seems meaningful.

In Pei May Chinese High School,
we played a memory game after
we having a 
transportation class.
What are the main challenges you faced?

The main challengeI faced was feeling uncomfortable. I had diarrhea for many times when I was in India. Although I felt uncomfortable during work, I still did my best to do everything I could. I just don’t want my learning and service to be affected.

Can you share with us one of your best memories here?

I was surprised when the students of Grace Ling Liang English School tried to chat with me by using Chinese. Their teacher said they were very shy to speak Chinese because they thought their Chinese were not good. Therefore, I was so happy that they tried to practice Chinese with us though they needed a little bit of time to complete a sentence. It was touching. It meant our program is useful for them.

Students also made their own
wood airplane and design it with Chinese culture.
What is your advice for young students who wish to do volunteer work?

If you want to do it, do it. Don’t waste any chance that you could widen your horizon. The result will be something that you can’t imagine.
I want to share one thing that I didn’t notice when I did service learning in India for you. That is everyone who volunteers to help people abroad can be a good ambassador for Taiwan and Fu Jen because we do what we can to help and we represent our country.

On June 20th, TAIndia assigned me as a representative of 106Youth Overseas Peace Corps and met with the president. There were many representatives from different schools. In her speech, the president said,“When you do international volunteer work, you are the international image of Taiwan and our best representative.”

Although we are small parts in the world, with our heart widely opened and our shoulders squared, a small part can be crucial in helping people in need. For this reason, don’t sell yourself short.


Helping Hands

Zoe Lee studies at the Taiwan Fu Jen Catholic University.  She is a sophomore at Mass Communication. She is also a DJ. She was one of the volunteers for TAINDIA 2017.

What attracted you to TAINDIA?

Being a DJ has more complicated life than others, sometimes it's really stressful. I came to join TAINDIA because I wanted to do something for the society and find some peace for my life and my heart.

Was there a difference between your expectations and the reality of your experience in India?

I didn't expect that India has so many poor people. I can't even imagine how they can live by this. And the other culture shock is the dirty environment. They have no any perspective on recycling and dealing those garbage.

Can you tell us about a happy memory or what has been your best experience in this trip?

The best experience of this trip is definitely the service experience in Missionary of Charity. I had been sent to Shanti Dan, I've never thought that I could have this deep relationship with the patients there. Although they don't understand our languages, but I can feel that they really appreciate our serving. Once I helped a patient to go to bathroom, she can't move by herself. She was really uncomfortable because she peed on her pants. After we cleaned up her body and changed some new clothes, she used her whole strength to say "Thanks" to me and smiled. It's the moment that I realized that I can really do something for others. And I always realized that I might not be able to give them a better life, but I can do my best and be their company, giving them some happiness and joys. That's the most beautiful thing ever!!

And what has been the greatest challenge?

The greatest challenge must be the difficulty of language. In Shanti Dan, they won't tell you what to do. Even when they ask you to do something, you still won't be able to understand... All you can do is "watch and learn." You got to do it all by yourself.

What is it like being a female DJ in Taiwan? Do you feel DJing has emerged as a full-time career option now?

Being a female DJ in Taiwan is really interesting but also difficult. Mostly, female DJs are more commercial. Unfortunately, for many people "a good looking face" is necessary. And most people will expect you to play those pop songs they like, you can't play in way you like, you have to follow the flow. But for those who really understand electronic music, they won't care about your gander or how you look; all they care about is the design of track. So having your own style is the most important part of being a professional DJ. But this kind of DJ normally won't get high paid. On the other hand, in this community, you have to be really socializing; you got to have the wild and strong friend’s network. The more people you know, the more opportunities you'll get. For me, I prefer playing songs in my own way, so it would be hard to make it become a full-time career. Although I really want it, but I think as long as you start to be a commercial DJ, you would never be a professional.

What impact do you anticipate your India experience will have on your future?

This trip has given me many ideas on music. I would like to do a city sound record to remember the image of those places I have been to. We all have our own way to remember things, some by pictures, and some by writing. For me, sounds are the tools to tell stories. And I want to try to remix Tagore's songs to express my feelings for Kolkata. 


Clarinet Calls

Aljaž Beguš  was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He began his musical studies at the age of seven in the Music School Ljubljana Moste-Polje with Joze Kregar and Franc Trzan. Aljaž Beguš has been awarded several prizes and honours. Amongst them are five first prizes in the Young Musician Competition of the Republic of Slovenia TEMSIG (1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2006 ), with three additional special prizes for the performance of Slovenian compositions. He was also the winner of International Competitions such as Città di Carlino and Marco Fiorindo in the Junior Category (Italy, 2002). In 2004 he was awarded the 3rd Prize in the Senior Category in Citta’ di Carlino. In 2007 he was also a semifinalist in the International Competition EBU New Talent in Bratislava. With the woodwind quintet Spirito he was semifinalist of ARD Munich competition 2014. In 2005 was awarded with the Preseren Student Prize. He has been a member of orchestras such as English National Opera, Orchestra da Camera di Mantova, Spira Mirabilis, European Union Youth Orchestra, and the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchester. He was part of the Mantova Chamber Orchestra which performed at Western Quadrangle of the  Victoria Memorial. It was presented by the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre, New Delhi and the Consulate General of Italy in Calcutta.

What is it about the clarinet that first sparked your interest?

My first contact with the clarinet was at a very young age, when I first listened to my grandfather practicing. And soon I wanted to do the same, so I started playing a small e flat clarinet. And this is how it begun.

What are your musical inspirations?

My musical inspiration is the music and the history - the composition itself and the research of the surrounding, history when the piece was composed, what was going on at the same time in other branches of art such as theatre, painting and literature.

This is what inspires me mostly when I practice. But when I perform the piece I get the inspiration from my colleagues with whom I am playing!

What do you find most gratifying about being a clarinetist?

A clarinet is for me a sort of a media through which I express my and composers feelings... many times I also imagine that I am playing the oboe or some other wind instrument. Maybe the best is to imagine you are just singing through it.   So as much as I love the clarinet sound...sometimes I think is also good to forget it and listen only to the inner voice.

How has playing in the Mantova Chamber Orchestra affected or changed how you play chamber music?

Playing in the Mantva Chamber Orchestra opens all the best in you. The energy and spirits are very high when we rehearse, also thanks to amazing Carlo Fabiano.
Plus we mostly play without conductor, so our playing relies on LISTENING and observing, which gives you more freedom, but also the responsibility to know the score we are performing much better, because you cannot rely on a conductor.

What’s been your most memorable musical experience?

I cannot say which was the  most memorable musical experience...maybe the last one was when I listened the late Nicolaus Harnoncourt conducting Schubert 8 and ROSAMUNDE.You are so much in the music..That you forget about everything.

What exercises have you personally developed that would be useful to the developing clarinetist?

I have played many exercises during my musical life... the best is to invent an exercise for the problem you are having... mostly I hear people practicing long notes. But they don’t even know why.It is like if you are searching for something you have lost...but you don’t know what it is!


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