OU celebrates Taiwanese culture and arts

The Oakland University community will be celebrating Taiwanese culture and arts from Sept. 14 through Nov. 11, 2018. The two-month celebration kicks off with Taiwan Week.

The event was coordinated by Dr. Melanie Chang (Department of Modern Languages and Literature), Peggy Chiu (School of Business Administration) and Dr. Chiaoning Su (Department of Communication and Journalism). This is the third year Taiwan Week will be celebrated across OU’s campus.

“I found this to be very effective to share the culture that I came from with an audience that I truly care about,” Su said of the event.

Though its moniker suggests it is a weeklong celebration, Taiwan Week will be spread out across two months in order to accommodate all of the events scheduled to coincide with it.

“I’m very ambitious, but I’m not greedy,” Chiu said. “Everything takes time.”

This year’s celebration will be particularly memorable, as the National Chinese Orchestra, Taiwan visited Michigan for the first time to take part in a special performance with the OU Glee Club and Taiwanese Choir.

The OU Glee Club and Taiwanese Choir officially met for the first time on Wednesday, Sept. 12 during a dress rehearsal in 201 Dodge Hall, after practicing the entire summer. Chiu said their performance of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” was “amazing” and almost left her in tears.

After two performances in the Oakland Center on Friday, Sept. 14, the three groups took the stage at the Detroit Institute of Arts for two encore performances, titled “Splendid Taiwan.”

The DIA also hosted a plethora of events on Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16 in honor of Taiwan Week, including a cooking demonstration, DIY activities and a screening of the film “Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above.” The screening was followed by a discussion led by Dr. Su.

In spite of the film’s controversial approach to ecological issues in Taiwan, Su said the way the audience responded to it last year gave them the confidence to show it again.

“It’s not a happy-ending kind of movie, but this is the kind of movie that will linger in your mind, make you think and make you ask questions,” Su said. “And I think it’s also a call for action.”

Chiu added that the issues tackled by the film are also relevant to life in Michigan.

“Many people said, ‘Oh, it’s very controversial, you’re not really presenting the best side of Taiwan,’ and I said, ‘You wanna talk about Flint? You wanna talk about the water? Do you want to talk about Katrina?’ It’s the same thing everywhere,” she said.

The celebration will officially conclude with a series of performances from the Taiwanese Shadow Puppet Troupe. Among the performances, which will include stops at the DIA, the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts and the Ann Arbor District Library, is a special appearance at the OU Student Theatre Lab for School of Music, Theatre and Dance faculty and students on Nov. 11.

Though Chiu initially only submitted a three-year proposal for Taiwan Week, she hopes this year’s celebration will be successful enough to continue the tradition for years to come.

“Taiwan Week means having a home,” she said. “OU Taiwan Week is, to me, bringing a piece of myself, a piece of culture, and planting the seeds at Oakland U.”

She also expressed hopes that Taiwan Week would inspire other people to celebrate their own cultures around campus, a sentiment with which Su agreed.

“I do hope that Taiwan Week is just a way to open the door for other student organizations or other faculty members to do something to celebrate their own cultures,” Su said. “That way, we see more diversity here on campus.”

For a full list of events and sponsors, visit the Oakland University website.