This blog is an archive for my research, interviews with designers and museum staff, and travel experiences as I explore multilingual design practices in Taiwan and the US.
Fulbright research abroad in Taipei, Taiwan will begin in March 2021.   




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“Taiwan is the place to be right now”

Language: English
Date: Feb 1, 2021
Listening to: “Gaslighter” by the Chicks

With a new “SPECIAL ENTRY PERMIT FOR COVID-19 OUTBREAK” Taiwanese visa in hand, I finally feel confident telling the world that I will be traveling to Taiwan for my Fulbright grant! It has been nearly 9 months of anticipation and learning to be flexible, and I’m ready to leave that all behind as I start my research project in a new country with open eyes and a receptive mind.

Only a handful of people reading this had the unenviable privilege of following my Fulbright drama up and down every rollercoaster bump this year (hi mom and dad!),  but for everyone else who had bigger fish to fry, I can explain my small piece of 2020 weirdness. When I received my original Fulbright acceptance letter in May 2020, it said that my project to study multilingual museum design in China at Tsinghua University was delayed for at least 6 months ~ a la COVID-19  travel regulations. At the end of July, I received notice that in compliance with President Trump’s Executive Order on the Normalization of Hong Kong which sought to punish China for…well everything, all Fulbright grants to China are canceled. I was given 30 days to pick a new country and resubmit my grant proposal. I was grateful to be accepted into the Taiwan cohort, and Fulbright arranged a new university program for my affiliation: Fu Jen Catholic University’s Graduate Institute of Museum Studies. My grant date was set for February 1st, which turned into February 15th but I eventually made it here. Phew.

Hopefully you won’t roll your eyes too much at my chronic optimistic “it was meant to be!” outlook, but after I recovered from my initial disappointment at losing a chance to work at Tsinghua University in Beijing, I began to realize that Taiwan is perfect for my project. To begin with, in only 2018 the Taiwanese government pledged to make Taiwan a bilingual country by 2030. In the official press release on the ‘2030 Bilingual Country Project,’ I am most interested in the goals “cultivating a friendly bilingual tourism environment” and “promoting bilingual services at cultural and educational facilities and venues.” So there you have it, already incredible source material for discussing what implementing a practice of bilingual design could look like.

Other things to be excited about: Taiwan is a small country with incredible diversity and takes pride in being welcoming to foreigners. It has world-class museums and cultural sites, as well as thousands of years of interesting history (think China but with more cultural exchange with other people since it is an island and easily invaded). The food is apparently outstanding and the pride and joy of the island. And out of the entire world, Taiwan stands apart as a leader in COVID-19 containment and safety. Believe it or not, the charts say that Taiwan case numbers have never risen about 30 at any one time, and have gone weeks without one reported case.

While moving to a new country will always stir some trepidation and anxiety, I feel confident that Taiwan is the place to be right now. I cannot wait to share my research and wanderings with anyone who would like to follow along.

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