Global Civic Engagement as an Empowering Device for Cross-Ethnic and Cross-Cultural Understanding in Taiwan

Global Civic Engagement as an Empowering Device for Cross-Ethnic and Cross-Cultural Understanding in Taiwan

Mei-Ying Chen (National Chiayi University, Taiwan) and Fu-hsing Su (National Chiayi University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1665-1.ch002
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Abstract

This study observed the feasibility of a general education course in facilitating global civic engagement for twenty-six participants from a Taiwanese university. Such a commitment was considered crucial to the fostering of cross-ethnic and cross-cultural understanding of immigration and new immigrants as a global issue within the Taiwanese context. Oral presentations, film/video watching, and service learning sessions were arranged to promote critical appraisals of things, persons, and issues related to foreign ethnicities and cultures. Data of the study consisted of relevant writings produced by the participants. The results of analyses revealed that the participants developed an awareness of persons, things, and issues that were cross-ethnic or cross-cultural in nature. Consequently, they achieved attitudinal and perceptional change of foreign ethnicities or cultures or generated critical appraisals of specific things or issues. Additionally, a considerable number of them displayed motivational readiness for global civic engagement.
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Introduction

In this article we present the educational outcome of a general education course which introduced the concept of global civic engagement to college students in Taiwan. Specifically, the course was intended to direct the students’ attention beyond local issues and develop understanding of immigration and immigrants as a global concern. Taiwan, for geographic and historical reasons, has long been a hub of cultural and ethnic heterogeneity. The overall cultural landscape became even more diverse since 1988, when the Taiwanese government decisively lifted the Martial Law, embracing an open-door policy toward Mainland China. Accompanying this easing of political tension was a surge of cross-border marriages across the Taiwan Strait. Additionally, in 1994 the government enacted the Moving toward the South Policy (Nanxiang Zhengce)1, which intended to improve its economic and diplomatic ties with Southeast Asian countries. This policy change brought in an even bigger flood of new immigrants who entered the country on international marriages (Lin & Wang, 2006).

The aforementioned international or cross-border marriages typically involve Taiwanese men marrying women from Mainland China and Southeast Asia. Statistics shows that currently in Taiwan there are a total of 505,320 marriage immigrants, among them 319,295 are women from Mainland China and 147,190 women from the Southeast Asia. The two groups together make up 92.31% of the population of new immigrants on international or cross-border marriage (Ministry of the Interior, ROC, 2015).

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