Saturday, March 05, 2011

Is this really necessary?

A couple of weeks ago Canadian Lindsey Craig published an article in a Canadian paper detailing the complete flop that was her teaching experience in Taiwan, as well as confessing to a few personality foibles. Her article (linked below) also had a few good pointers about how you might prepare for teaching overseas. I thought it was quite brave of her to publish that, and also useful: teaching here is not for everyone.

As it turns out, some weird Canadian Taiwanese are trying to organize a protest because gasp it said something bad about Taiwan. Stop the presses! A clear case of media bias! Taiwan Introspective has the call (and thanks for all the links, man!).
Lynch mobs, I mean... protest groups have now taken up the cause against Lindsay Craig's article on her cultural shock during her time in Taiwan. A "“226 protest of media bias Gazette in Montreal” has been set up on Facebook "calling on foreign nationals living in Taiwan teaching foreign languages to contact the group to lodge a protest against the newspaper." I wonder what kind of response they will get. Apparently this has become a big news item in Taiwan (as anything slightly anti-Taiwanese does.) Here's the story in the Taipei Times.
The Facebook protest group is here. Taiwan Introspective also discusses the letter that TECRO sent on Ms. Craig's article. Even TECRO got involved. The horror! Taiwan Introspective remarked:
I also laughed at the comparisons to the Taiwanese community in Montreal. People have no idea of the differences in visa requirements, access to language (different education systems) and culture (monocultural vs. multicultural). Whatever happens to you is your fault and if you don't like it, go home. It's funny that were the situation reversed, (saying that about someone who immigrated to Canada) it would be out and out racism. And it stands in stark irony to what Canadians tend to do for others who come here in terms of language support, acculturation and general volunteer services.
That paragraph raises an important issue. The two cultures handle foreigners in wildly different ways. Canada is a Low Context culture in which information is fluid across social boundaries and things are clearly explained for newcomers. In High Context cultures like Taiwan, you're expected to know. This can drive newcomers crazy. Hence the uninformed way that many Taiwanese view the US and Canada: it's so easy for us to move there, how come you're having a problem here? (you must be stupid!).

UPDATE: Good words in the comments.

Craig responds. Shame on the jerks who contacted her schools.

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60 comments:

Marc said...

According to Edward Hall, who formulated the low/high culture contexts, no culture is uniquely low or high, but are a combination of both depending on the situation.

Someone who expects a low-contexted situation will be frustrated by the seeming lack of accessible information to perform competently if it is high-contexted. Conversely, people used to high-context situations are usually overwhelmed by information in a low-context one. Hall stated that it's much harder for a low-context thinking person to manage a high-context environment.

In this teacher's case, there was in fact plenty of advance information available, and she admittedly did not avail herself of it.

In high-contexted situations-- Hall observed with his time spent with the Navajo that he was able to be more communicatively competent once he was well established within a network where information was provided in the form of similar actions/behavior.

This teacher lived in a foreign country with her foreign boyfriend and apparently made little effort to get to know more local people, something that takes time and patience. If she had, perhaps her culture shock, which ended up becoming a narrative focused on insects and road signs and not on people and communication, would likely have given way to toleration and acceptance of her situation and a more fulfilling experience.

Jenna said...

OK...the protest is stupid.

I do think the original writer was a bit of a drama queen (I'm sorry, as bad as Taoyuan airport is, it doesn't smell like a sewer - she just made that up) and I do think she blamed Taiwan for her bad experience more than she reflected on herself and why maybe her personality simply doesn't mesh with the typical expat life in Asia (or most of the rest of the world). There's nothing wrong with that, by the way - it's not necessarily "bad" if one's personality isn't suited for life abroad in a non-Western country - but she could have reflected on it more rather than letting the tone of her article be all "Taiwan...BAD!"

Her problems and complaints were otherwise mostly valid, but not unique to Taiwan. It's smelly (sometimes) and polluted? Well, yes, but so is most of the world. Cockroaches are a universal problem and worse here mostly because of climate. So while she's not wrong, her issues with life abroad aren't things that can be blamed on Taiwan itself; they're things she'd encounter if she tried to live in any country appreciably different from Canada.

BTW I disagree that things aren't explained adequately to newcomers in Taiwan (at least in Taipei) - I've found locals so helpful, to the point of approaching me to see if I need assistance in English even when I don't (and if I did it wouldn't have to be in English).

Taiwan is a high-context culture in and of itself, but my experience has been that it is also a self-aware culture that doesn't expect foreigners to immediately "get it" (in many ways, I find it expects that foreigners won't get it that quickly).

But protesting her article? Come on.

les said...

So the old saw needs an amendment eh?

"If you don't like it go home... but when you get there don't you dare tell anyone why you didn't like it!"

Hmm. Strange, but I hear Taiwanese complain all the time about this or that country they visited. It must be horrible traveling overseas when your sole arbiter is whether or not there is a 7-11 every 50m...

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

This kind of shit simply adds more feul to the strong in-group/out-group biases that exist in the interactions of all groupings. Perhaps the problem is with the broader context of group mentality, not just the narrower "cultural contexts" alone? Asian societies in general have--again, generally speaking--a low regard for the individual, and I fear this anti-individual sentiment is growing in the West as well. Collectivists may argue that one "group" needs to accept another "group" or members from another "group," but perhaps the focus should be on the micro-relationships, i.e., person-to-person (individual-to-indiviual) relations and not inter-group relations (which often lead to conflict). I, after more than five years in Taiwan, am sensitive to the fact that how one person--say, a student--acts by him- or herself is far different from his or her actions when with the entire class even if all those in his or her class are not necessarily his or her friends (this, I would argue, is a stronger difference than the one I noticed in Western classrooms), or how one teenager may say hello to you or just pretend to ignore you when he or she passes you on the street, but if he or she with a group of friends, you can sometimes catch glimpses of snickers as they pass, they may shout out (rather obnoxiously), "Hey, foreigner, HELLO! HELLO!" and then laugh once you pass by. (I never thought greeting someone could be so hilarious!)

In these last situations, it is up to the individual to be not so sensitive as an obvious member of an out-group. However, perhaps over time, less emphasis on the groups themselves (Taiwanese, Chinese, American, Canadian, Japanese, the Chens, the Wangs, the workers at Chunghwa Telecom, doctors, etc.) and more emphasis on the dignity of the individual may lead to better situations for all involved. Just a thought.

(Note, I'm not in any way condemning Asians or Asian cultures. Instead, I'm hoping that as individuals there can be some understanding, for understanding between groups is often extremely difficult. In this sense, all involved have to make adjustments, not just one "side" or however you'd like to put it. In the long run, however, I do think that the only form of understanding that ever truly exists occurs between individuals, not groups, nations, organizations, or other social constructs.)

STOP Ma said...

.
.
.
It took me a good YEAR in Taiwan before I became remotely comfortable living there. This student's journey should not be chastised. It is honest and not mean-spirited in any way. It's not even ethnocentric -- she had become more sensitized to minorities in her own country after this experience.

My first impressions of Taiwan were very similar. The lack of hygiene in the cities appalled me. The antiquated sewer systems revolted me -- and yes, the city of Keelung where I lived in for 5 years smelled like a sewer in more than a few areas. The "every man for himself" attitude on the streets bothered me.

But I stuck it out and eventually grew to love the country of Taiwan -- and there is much to love about it. The food, the people, the history, and the beautiful countryside.

I don't know if I would have survived even 7 months, though -- without my Taiwanese wife.


.
.
.

Anonymous said...

''A couple of weeks ago Canadian Lindsey Craig published an article in a Canadian paper detailing the complete flop that was her teaching experience in Taiwan, as well as confessing to a few personality foibles.''

But Sir or Ma'a, whoever is running this blog,

She wrote the article on Feb. 25, 2011....about her experiences in 2005. Why did it take her so long to write it up? I believe she wrote that story to push the travel firms and overseas school finders she quotes in her article. That was not "reporting"....that was pimping. She was an immature girl when she went to Taiwan and she is still an immature woman now.

That article was poorly written and poorly and sloppily edited and never should have been published in a newspaper anywhere in the world. On a blog, sure. But that was not newspaper-worthy. That was a D- ( as in D minus) in my book and i teach at the skool of hard knocks here in old Blighty.....

Trevor
Cornwall UK

Anonymous said...

Couldn't wait for the DPP to pressure Pres. Ma to demand an apology from Canada! ROFL!


Lindsey was just expressing her freedom of speech which unfortunately for some here with an inferiority-superiority complex, were a tad unbearable.

As they say the truth hurts so
now they can add Canada to South Korea and the Philippines as enemy number one!

This mentality is a mixture of paranoia and a little delusions of grandeur.
Matt

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Well, I think we can also say that Taiwan in general has been belittled internationally, especially lately, and this might have more to do with the backlash. (My earlier comment, above, had more to do with the backlash than a single individual's feelings about a place she understands relatively little.) That said, I don't think there are many "delusions of grandeur" or whatever on Taiwan; I think there are simply hopes and calls for parity with other members of the international community. So belittling or making negative comments about Taiwan, particularly now, becomes very sensitive.

It is interesting as well, however, that very few nations in the world would act hypersensitively to such actions, even though particular citizens might. The only ones I can think of that come to mind are developing nations (besides Taiwan, which I consider developed), particularly China. My only meaning here is that such a backlash can only be understood in context, and with a president seemingly hell-bent on forcing Taiwan to be China--not a part of China, but China itself (however ridiculous that sounds)--recent issues with Korea and the Philippines (although I personally see Chinese dealings behind such issues that made conflict a foregone conclusion and made a China-friendly president a spineless twit [if he wasn't already]), and the even more recent discussion about another spineless twit in the United States using Kissinger's tactics (did I mention Kissinger as well as a member of the spineless twit club?) to abandon Taiwan, we can begin to sense why such sensitivities exist and why they are running so high right now in Taiwan. That does not mean I condone those feelings; indeed, I think this sort of issue will never be handled properly at the national (i.e., group) level. I'd say respondents should just let an ignorant fool be an ignorant fool. (But that goes hand-in-hand with the perception that Westerners in general are ignorant fools, and, thus, we're back at the in-group/out-group starting point. Hence, I think the issue lies at the group level, and group-to-group disputes are extremely difficult to settle.)

Thoth Harris said...

Criticizing the Gazette article is one thing (it should be criticized, as is our right); protesting it, is quite another. So Taiwanese don't even speak up about 228 anymore, but now 226 (what the FB group is called, wants to blackball an obscure journalist who only crime is to have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth and easy connections to the newspaper business? Lindsey Craig's article was badly written, but that doesn't mean that there are true things in there. I don't see much introspection for the protest group. I just see a lot of people wanting to tape her damned mouth shut. Disgusting spectacle. Again, this shows how much freedom (especially of speech) is at stake.
I also agree with what Nathan Novak and Jenna say in the comments section here.

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

My understanding as well, Matt, is that there have been many calls--perhaps more--from KMT members for South Korea and the Philippines to apologize to the Republic of China while ignoring the PRC's role in both incidents. Most thoughtful DPP supporters I've talked to think the government of Taiwan should stand up to the PRC and demand the PRC make amends. Again, this is what I've observed. True, DPP members and supporters also seem to argue that the other countries invovled should make amends as well, but more recognize the PRC puppetmaster standing in the shadows.

Jenna said...

re: "which ended up becoming a narrative focused on insects and road signs and not on people and communication, would likely have given way to toleration and acceptance of her situation"

...yeah, exactly. If she'd talked more about communication, network-forming and settlement issues and less about "ew, big scary bugs!" she might be getting more sympathy (for the record, she does get sympathy from me, of the "it just isn't a good life choice for some people" type).

re: "the city of Keelung where I lived in for 5 years smelled like a sewer in more than a few areas."

...well, yes. But that's not an indictment of Taiwan. Ever lived in New York? Washington, DC? Bombay? Paris? Even gloriously beautiful Prague? Every city has parts that smell nasty, and many smell far nastier than those of Taiwan (I've lived in India and China, and I can tell you that India emits smells that Taiwan has never dreamed of).

Anonymous said...

''This is exactly why we Taiwanese here in Canada need The Montreal Gazette newspaper to clarify the purpose of this kind of publishing. If you want to talk about teaching English overseas, make a comparison chart and gather different experience. If you want to talk about travel preparation, stick to the point, and not knowing USA doesn’t speak Chinese is not part of “lack of preparation”. I don’t need anyone to tell me “teaching in Taiwan is not for everyone”; it’s like saying “not everyone is white”…thank you for telling. People can have different opinions, but if The Gazette or TECO (TECRO?) don't do something fast, there will be more people like some commenters here above being misled from the original concern. We are not protesting for all the anti-Taiwan issues; in fact, there are a lot of debating about Taiwan itself happening everyday in Taiwan. We are also not monoculture (nor is Montreal); anyone who knows a little bit of Taiwanese history can prove the point. Having different point of views and opinions are good, but being misled is something…terrible.''

[I am Taiwanese man in Canada, I hope you can print this on your blog. I hope you can hear what i am saying, even if my English is not perfect...]

Michael Turton said...

People can have different opinions, but if The Gazette or TECO (TECRO?) don't do something fast, there will be more people like some commenters here above being misled from the original concern.

I don't think she is being misleading. She represents a population of individuals we never hear about because they fail and go home -- in taiwan you only meet expats who successfully get by in Taiwan. So I think her article is important.

Thoth Harris said...

@Anon 3:56 p.m. Lindsey Craig's article was facile, but protesting it is even more facile. I mean really, have you ever heard of anecdotal journalism. Perhaps you should come back to Taiwan and read Apple Daily. At least you will realize that that kind of journalism exists. It is just toss-off journalism. I agree that more serious attention should be paid to Taiwan. But Craig's article has opened up debate, has it not? Demanding that she retract what she wrote or protesting what she wrote is fascistic nonsense!

Karl said...

I found it very interesting to read her take on failing to adapt to a foreign culture. Agreed, it wasn't very well written, but I enjoyed reading about her perspective. I had traveled a lot before I went abroad to live for the first time, so I can imagine it is a difficult adjustment for some.

I cannot understand the protest at all. She didn't say anything scathing about Taiwan. You cannot deny that Taiwan has cockroaches, pollution, a high population density, and few English signs. Would it be right to protest if a Taiwanese went to suburban Canada, complained about the cold, the isolation, how nothing was in Chinese? This is simply a story of culture shock.

Jenna said...

"She represents a population of individuals we never hear about because they fail and go home -- in taiwan you only meet expats who successfully get by in Taiwan. So I think her article is important."

I agree completely. I just wish she wasn't so damn whiny about it, and was more introspective (she was to a certain extent, I'll give her that). I think an article about true interpersonal culture shock rather than a rant about some bugs and betel nut spit would have better served us all and would have made for better journalism.

Jenna said...

FTR I am currently writing up my own thoughts on her observation that there are so few female expats in Taiwan...because she's right.

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Re: Anonymous, there's no reason to be sorry about your English.

Re: Michael, excellent response. I simply don't think bashing someone for writing a letter or an editorial or whatever it was is appropriate. You (in general, not you, Michael) may dislike it, but then respond instead by writing about some of the reasons she may have felt that way, what she could have done differently, and perhaps even thank her for her opinion and then offer your own. Jenna (I believe) wrote something about different cities around the world. I've lived in several of those; nothing shocks me anymore, really, especially not a little smell here or a traffic accident there.

There's something to be said about people who react violently to anything with which they disagree: most people desire to be desensitized to everything (they wish to know and hear all), but many people are sensitive to everything (they do not wish to know or hear all). I don't expect others with no teeth to be able to chew; but if they cannot chew, they'd better stay away from solid food. (You'll also notice that no one here is condemning anyone for responding so vehemently to her article. I think that says a mountain about the people responding here. Yep, the writer of the article writes poorly and is obviously ill-suited to life abroad. Yep, she's extremely insecure. And yep, some of the things she states are true. And yep, this should catch a few nerves. I don't think she ought to be pilloried, however, that's for sure. I've had my fair share of people dislike me just because I'm an American [living in Taiwan, no less], and the same things that can be said about her for being ignorant and narrow-minded [which are quite true] can also be said of some people I've come across in other places--even in Taiwan. So this brings me to my conclusion, which I've already drawn above: enough with the group labeling. This girl obviously did not seek to mingle or to learn at all, and this was because she saw a group and was seen as a member of another group. She's the pitiful one for missing out on the amazing opportunities a wonderful place has to offer; let's--all of us--never make the same mistake [wherever we are].)

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael
I have to take issue with your last point. While the writer "failed" in trying to make it in Taiwan, I don't think that means every expat who's stayed in Taiwan is a success. I've met a few expats who've lived in Taiwan for many years, but who can't speak good Chinese or can't stop complaining about everything. If anything, these people are actually worse - they can't be satisfied with Taiwan but they're not honest or brave enough to go back to their home countries and start back a new life.

CP

PS
The calls for protest against this article are ridiculous, though I find the timing of the article to be really strange. First, the anti-Korean backlash over the taekwondo decision, then the proposed anti-Filipino domestic worker measures, and finally this. If people aren't careful, Taiwan is going to risk being seen as a fruitcake in the global/regional arena.

blobOfNeurons said...

@Jenna

The author never says that the airport smells like a sewer.

I now know I was not ready for Taiwan. I did not research the culture adequately enough, and I should have gone only if I’d had a genuine interest in learning the language. As McBride, manager of Toronto’s ESL in Canada, points out, China and South Korea are “the most difficult areas to go into if you don’t even have a basic vocabulary.”

I had naively assumed I would be able to get by.


How is this not self-reflection? All her "complaints" (if they can be called that considering how neutral her statements are) are written in the -tense; the entire article is self-reflection.

If anything, this article is too mild. It doesn't even criticize Taiwan, it states a few phenomena the author encountered and how they affected her ability to cope.

Lai Wongbao said...

I have to agree with Michael—great comments on this post. Whether people agree or disagree, there is much more balanced discussion here than anywhere else on the net. My faith in humanity has been restored after reading the comments today!

The only reason I blogged about this in the first place was that issues of ‘returnees’ is an interesting one. As Michael said, this is a rarely heard from group, be it Chinese/Taiwanese from other parts of the world or ‘foreigners’ from Taiwan.

In trying to understand the reason for such a backlash like the protest, did anyone look at the translation on the 226 protest site? I think it ‘amps up’ a lot of Ms. Craig’s points and exaggerates bias. I have to say if I relied only on that translation I might be a lot more angry as well.

Also, if Trevor from Cornwall sees the intent from the article to push these ESL schools in Montreal, we should ask the same question about the intent of the Montreal 226 protest as well. That their organizers could benefit from such solidarity perhaps might outweigh the reason for the protest itself. (More legitimate protests like W5 resulted in formation of major institutions like the Canadian Chinese National Council.)

Conspiracy theories aside, I agree with a number of other comments on here: Ms. Craig’s article is (and originally was) a blog post. It must have been a slow news day and it got pasted to the front page of the community section in Montreal during the weekend. Now it’s receiving an inordinate amount of backlash from people with nationalist (over)sensitivities and politically correct agendas.

Anonymous said...

Just like the South Korea Tai Kwon Do kerfluffle, look for more of these "controversies" that seek to shift public gaze and ire away from China to new enemies who were once friends.

Jenna said...

@blobofneurons -

I didn't say she was completely lacking in introspection - go back and read my post. I said she was introspective to a certain extent. I feel, however, that she didn't go far enough in examining how her personality and lack of attempts at fitting in were a huge part of the problem. (unless she made them and they got edited out of the article - that does happen. I've been published a few times and had things I felt were important end up cut by editors).

Note that I did not say she should entirely blame herself - just that, despite some introspection, that she doesn't appear very self-aware. Maybe she is in real life, but it sure didn't come across in this article.

Also, perhaps I misread, but this line from the article:

"Instead, inside the terminal, we were hit with the smell of diesel from buses and trucks outside. When we exited the airport, the smell from the sewers was worse."

...to me, that sounds like she's saying the minute she stepped outside the airport it smelled like a sewer, and yes, I think that's a bit overly dramatic.

And I *do* think that she felt she was specifically criticizing Taiwan in some areas, and some of her criticisms were indeed valid. I feel that she lacks the wider worldview to see that this is not only what most of the world is like - in fact, most of the world is *worse*.

Anonymous said...

re

''Ms. Craig’s article is (and originally was) a blog post.''

Originally a blog post? well, that explains it all. Can you show us the link to her blog post as blog? I want to see it.

That said, as a British expat back home now in Cornwall, i completely side with the 226 protest group and i wish them well. they have every right to protest and more power to them. Those you here, above, most of you, should not knock them. Let them protest. they are right to protest. Why would any good expat in Tawian tell them their protest is wrong? You guys blow me away. Cut them so slack. they were offended by Craig's stupid aricle. A protest is a perfectly fine idea and those of you here who poo poo their actions are on the wrong side of history. What are you so defensive about? Craig's aricle was a black eye to Taiwan. Screw her! That was feeble writing. Long live the 226 protest.... Jeezm you foreigners have lost your cool now. I am glad i am back in old Blight, at least people stand up for Taiwan here. You guys here jsut want to hrut the 226 poeple. you are as bad as Craig....

Trevor, UK
Cornwall lad

Anonymous said...

re

''Ms. Craig’s article is (and originally was) a blog post.''

Originally a blog post? well, that explains it all. Can you show us the link to her blog post as blog? I want to see it.

That said, as a British expat back home now in Cornwall, i completely side with the 226 protest group and i wish them well. they have every right to protest and more power to them. Those you here, above, most of you, should not knock them. Let them protest. they are right to protest. Why would any good expat in Tawian tell them their protest is wrong? You guys blow me away. Cut them so slack. they were offended by Craig's stupid aricle. A protest is a perfectly fine idea and those of you here who poo poo their actions are on the wrong side of history. What are you so defensive about? Craig's aricle was a black eye to Taiwan. Screw her! That was feeble writing. Long live the 226 protest.... Jeezm you foreigners have lost your cool now. I am glad i am back in old Blight, at least people stand up for Taiwan here. You guys here jsut want to hrut the 226 poeple. you are as bad as Craig....

Trevor, UK
Cornwall lad

Anonymous said...

and wait until you guys read the editorials in the papers tomorrow from the Taipei Times and the Cnina Post and the Taiwan News if it still there. They will support thr 226 protesters, unlike you party poopers here above.

Trevor
UK
Cornall

Ling's log said...

Thank you for a balance analysis of this article.
But I found Lindsay Craig's views absolutely insulting.
Yeah, she has a right to complain but what she is complaining about I can point out in places across the world.
I grew up in Taichung and it is a city very close and dear to my heart. Her article just came out very ethnocentric (like what you poitn out over and over in Taiwanese Media, though english translations usually lose all originial meaning and I recommend reading UDN instead of Taipei Times) I found the Gazette publishing her editorial very insulting. It was giving people a bad image and now some canadians may think badly of Taiwan and speak badly of Taiwan. (bad reputations and news travels fast)
I found Lindsey Craig to be the type of people that I avoid here in the U.S. (I know very elitist of me)
But I do think the Gazette needs to apologize for putting this in a Three page spread (making it sound like a big deal) when it is just a rant from a girl who lacks travel experiences. They pretty much made it sound like Taiwan = bad and there's nothing good about it which is not true.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Craig should have been more prepared for her trip to Taiwan.
She was not all wrong about Taiwan.
The reaction of Taiwanese is too dramatic. Calm down then take a deep breath. I don't think it's big deal of how she felt when she stayed in Taichung.It's just her opion.

From a person who lives in New Yok city now but was born and raised in Taichung.

Michael Turton said...

Maddog flipped me her online bio. It is pretty clear she has traveled to tame European destinations, mostly, and thus, in my book, never traveled. If you read this you can see for her "travel" is obviously about class aspirations, which explains her reactions to .... cockroaches.

Michael

> Lindsey Craig is…
>
> a passionate traveller.
> an experienced journalist.
> a sports and fitness buff.
> a student of language and culture.
> As her passport demonstrates, travelling is Lindsey’s passion.
> She’s lived, studied and worked all over the world. A semester in Paris, a
> reporting gig in London, a teaching job in Taiwan [Maddog note: Nothing
> negative here!]. And those are just a few.
> She’s been canyoning in Switzerland, parasailing in France.
> She’s stood in the gas chambers of a former Nazi concentration camp, and in
> the house where Anne Frank hid.
> She’s lived with five different exchange families in three different
> countries. Slept in a mud hut, a treehouse [Maddog note: and she's afraid of
> a cople of cockroackes?], and a multi-million dollar “farmhouse” owned by a
> Pink Floyd producer.
> “Travelling isn’t about sitting on a beach with an all-inclusive bracelet,”
> she said. “It’s about venturing into the unknown, seeing the world from a
> different perspective.”
> AN EXPERIENCED JOURNALIST
> When she’s not travelling, she’s doing what she does best: telling stories.
> Lots of them- for multimedia, broadcast and print mediums.
> Most recently, she’s worked as a Senior Writer for CBCSports.ca, covering
> two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008 [Maddog note: Is that where she met the
> person who paid her to write this?], Vancouver 2010).
> She’s also produced features for online and television formats, worked with
> top directors, co-hosted a ‘live’ TV segment, and appeared on-camera on
> Hockey Night in Canada.
> She’s also been a field reporter and worked in both English and French.
> Lindsey has also written for the Hamilton Spectator, the Burlington Post and
> Oakville Beaver. While living in Banff, she also reported for the local
> paper- at least, when she wasn’t on the slopes.
> EDUCATION
> Lindsey earned her B.A. (Honours) at the University of Guelph (Criminal
> Justice and Public Policy, 2003), and her M.A. in Journalism at the
> University of Western Ontario (2007).
> In 2009, she completed a French proficiency certificate at George Brown
> College. In March 2010, she began her second French immersion program at
> McGill University.
> When she’s not reporting or packing her bags, she plays soccer, football and
> ball hockey. She also runs half-marathons and lives for spin classes — which
> is a good thing, since she lives for chocolate, too.

Jenna said...

This is going to sound really cruel so I apologize in advance.

But that is the saddest bio I've ever heard - "travel is not about sitting on a beach with an all inclusive bracelet on your wrist" and yet you're afraid of cockroaches and a little pollution?

"Travel is her passion" yet she's only been to Europe and her first attempt to leave the Western/developed (Taiwan is developed but we can all agree it's not exactly Europe) world was a big ol' fail?

Methinks any attempt she makes in the future to indulge her 'passion', if she decides to leave warm, cozy Europe which is not really a challenge at all (except maybe on your budget), will have to be in an all-inclusive resort because if she can't handle Taiwan she will positively freak out in India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Laos, Egypt...all places I've been where things are far far harder than the things she says about Taiwan. You want fumes from the exhaust of a million cars? Try Cairo, Lindsey.

Also, I'm sorry but any old pensioner on a tour bus can stand in Ann Frank's house or a former concentration camp. It is good that she had those experiences - I am always in favor of travel - but they are not something to brag about on your bio as though you're the only person who went to Ann Frank's house while in Amsterdam.

blobOfNeurons said...

@Jenna

No, it's saying that there were sewers outside the airport that smelled bad. Any connection made between the sewers and the airport is of your own devising.

The entire article was written about an experience 6 years ago. She's describing all her reactions at the time. As other people have pointed out, and as she herself states, this is a story of culture shock. (If she wanted to mock Taiwan she could have titled it "Taiwan: The Hellhole Isle" or something like that.) She fully admits that she was not prepared. All the criticisms are simply descriptions of what she saw and how she reacted at the time. (Since criticism can be neutral, I should say that she doesn't disparage Taiwan, when she could easily have done so.)

Anonymous said...

This is not about Lindsey Craig or Taiwan's image overseas or on the island itself. It is about sloppy journalism, sloppy editing, sloppy fact-checking and sloppy vetting. The article in question was originally a blog posted that got booted up to a big spread in a Montreal newspaper and went viral around the world. I am Taiwanese and resent the hell out of the Gazette stooping so low as to publish this bile crapola and for those of you white intellectuals above here in these comments, you are out of touch with reality, go back to your home countries if you can't stomach my dear island home. Grrrrrrrr.

Anonymous said...

Blogger, you wrote on Feb. 27 in your blog, championing this woman and now you act like you disagree. Where DO you stand sir?

"Seven hellish months teaching English in Taiwan. The advice at the end is excellent, and it is interesting that they ran a piece about such a colossal failure, so different from the usual cheerleading."


alecksh says among the 259 comments in the gazette site:

I'm a young Caucasian Canadian woman teaching English in Taiwan and I completely disagree with this article. I have been here 7 months and I have no intention of leaving right now, as you did. Of COURSE Taiwan is different. What did you expect? For me, that was why I chose it. I wanted to challenge myself. Knowing no Mandarin for the first few months here, of course it was very frustrating at times. But I've learned to embrace it. I now don't mind making a fool of myself as I mime things to service staff. As for vital words like train station, etc, I've taken the time to learn them so I no longer have to say "CHOO CHOO" (although that has happened several times when I have failed getting the tones right...). All you can do is adapt. Perhaps that is not in your nature, but that doesn't give you the license to trash this beautiful country because of your own failings.



Mooglecharm says:

Unfortunately, there are too many Lindsey Craigs in Taiwan and the rest of Northeast Asia. Who is a Lindsey Craig? Someone who expects to be completely accommodated to. Someone who doesn't want to learn the local language - even the basics.
Someone who expects English to be ubiquitous. Somone who constantly prefers the company of other Westerners and choses to make little contact with the locals.

What's more troubling than this article is the fact that the editors of the Gazette chose to publish it. What were they thinking? Because the news media are largely responsible for shaping how we view the world, more care is needed in publishing articles that don’t misconstrue another nation. The Gazette chose to publish an article by someone who should have never left home.

I have seen Lindsey Craigs all the time in Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia and it's sad. Really sad.
Details says:

Ms. Craig, what can I say...When in Rome, do as the Romans do. It certainly will help.

When you enter a place with such dense population, everything is more this and more that, right? If you are prepared right, you would adapt yourself quicker to the new surroundings.

You go to Far Eastern part of the world and people there don't speak English just like the folks in Canada don't speak Taiwanese. Learn some Mandarin or Taiwanese before you go can ease your life better. Folks in Taiwan are very friendly. They love to help, especially people from the West. You are from the West, so reach out and touch someone.
And enjoy! Right, enjoy the differences! If Taiwan is the same as Canada, I can't imagine how boring it is. If you don't mind, I challenge you to go there again and again.


Show says:

Ms. Craig, you should have stayed in Ontario. Montreal is too exotic for you. Did you notice that there are no English signs? Have you had the exotic experience of eating at a French restaurant? Many of them have "joue de veau" on the menu. Too offensive, must be!

Disgusted with this blog I am! You want to have it both ways, you applaud her then you slam her. where DO you stand sir?

Trevor in Cornwall
UK

Freeman said...

I've seen that hate group on Facebook. Shameful what they write, but the group has 460 members of which only few write something stupid. For me case closed. It's just hot air, in a week nobody will remember this.

There are seriously other groups in Taiwan that would deserve more attention.

Lai Wongbao said...

Interesting update on the 226 Protest Facebook page. They closed the comments "Based on respect for the proper event propagation and to avoid the event is over enlarged."

Seems that it is due to "emotional speeches and personal speculation will only vague the focus of the event, and may cause some unnecessary effect toward the other Taiwanese and Canadians who love Taiwan."

Lai Wongbao said...

After reading the Chinese again, seems like they are closing the whole FB page.

Anonymous said...

I took the article with a grain of salt after I found out the writer was from Burlington,Ontario. Toronto traffic and ethnic neighbourhoods would be a culture shock to those peops from Burlington never mind Taiwan.

Michael Turton said...

Trev, as new information comes in, my position shifts (in this case, it has merely deepened). What do YOU do with new information?

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

"I am Taiwanese and resent the hell out of the Gazette stooping so low as to publish this bile crapola and for those of you white intellectuals above here in these comments, you are out of touch with reality, go back to your home countries if you can't stomach my dear island home. Grrrrrrrr."

That solves everything, there, "Anonymous." Responding with group hatred for another group. This comment is no better than anything Ms. Craig wrote. I'm assuming, based on your relatively well-written comment in English (not a native language in Taiwan), that you yourself have spent some time abroad. Please remember your own comments if you are ever confronted with a situation regarding another country with which you are not pleased or if you ever travel anywhere and encounter any situation not to your liking. People--and by this I mean individuals-- should be above all of this "crapola." Perpetuating it is not solving anything. So, shame on Ms. Craig--yes, shame on her--but perhaps shame on ourselves as well.

Anonymous said...

I think the article is just a publicity stunt trying to get her or the gazette famous.

There are many factual errors in her article, which is a sign of unprofessional journalism.

When I was in Montreal, I went to Le Cafe Cherrier, and I was not even being served after sitting down for 15 minutes and the waiters were NOT busy. Eventually a Canadian lady asked the waiter to give me a menu. They did so, promptly upon her request. After waiting another 15 minutes trying to signal a waiter to take my order without success, I just left.

I been to many countries in the world and I have never ever been treated this way, now what newspaper should I submit my story to tell the world how horrible or racist Montreal people are?

Julian said...

When I move back home to Canada after 4.5 years here in Kaohsiung and Taipei, 90% of my memories about TW will be good ones. Any complaints I have won't be about smells or chinese or cockroaches, they'll be about shitty work environments, crazy bureaucracy, and bosses that fired me after I tried to legally quit and find a way to make an orderly transition between jobs.

I think the reason people are so eager to rip on her is that her complaints seem so silly to people who have lived here for years. Road signs, really? It'd be like a Taiwanese person moving to Montreal and being shocked at a few inches of snow. Plenty of people have had horror stories about dealing with bosses or police or immigration here, her complaints are just..... wimpy.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nathan,

Just responding to your comment to "Anonymous", I was being sarcastic about turning a small experience into a snide attack on a group of people.

Anon

Jenna said...

Blob, there is no reason to get snotty. Reading the sentence again, it DOES (or it CAN) imply that there were sewers right outside the airport. If that is not what she intended then she is a bad writer. I do not think her criticism is all that neutral and your attitude certainly isn't convincing me that I am wrong in my assessment. At no point did I say she has no right to her views, just that I find her views especially in light of her ridiculous bio to be small-minded and a bit whiny. Which is fine for a blog but it IS NOT JOURNALISM. I never said she was not introspective, just that she was not introspective enough.

Considering that my views on this article are hardly the coldest or least sympathetic in these comments, I can only conclude that you are attacking me because you're looking for a reason to be offended.

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Re: Anon:

And I understand as well your unhappiness regarding the publication. Having lived in Taiwan for the past almost six years now and being married to a Taiwanese (Kaohsiung), I feel at least some of the anger regarding Taiwan's being constantly put down and undermined internationally. In fact, I'm sometimes even more upset than my wife about certain things because I've grown to love this place and call it "home"--and will continue to call it one of my homes after I do leave (probably sometime in the next 3-4 years). I just hope everyone can remain civil. A harsh backlash is not helpful--nay, it is counterproductive. Please do understand, however, that I feel some of the same unhappiness you most likely also feel.

Anonymous said...

A Taiwanese man living in the USA for over 30 years todl me by email here in UK:

"Hey, Trewor, i disagree with you on this one, mate......in fact, I agree with Lindsey Craig' comments. I, a Taiwanese, do feel that
Taiwan needs to make improvements in many ways in order to become a
modern nation. For example, the habit of chewing betel nut is like
smoking pops in US. Every time I call a taxi when i visit Taiwan , I
always ask for a taxi driver who not chewing betel nuts. ''

- fwd by Trevor in UK, Cornwall

Anonymous said...

re: "Trev, as new information comes in, my position shifts (in this case, it has merely deepened). What do YOU do with new information?"

Good on ya, mate! We are on the same page now. My positions also shift as new info comes in on all issues. So i agree with you now. the key is to weigh all sides first BEFORE you make gargatuan pronouncements. But again, glad you are open to evolving your POV as new info comes int, that is what blogging be all about, mate!

Trev, who is not right every time either....

Anonymous said...

@Nathan, why leave? re:

"......I've grown to love this place and call it "home" -- and will continue to call it one of my homes after I do leave (probably sometime in the next 3-4 years)."

Why leave in 3-4 years? Why not stay here and make it your permanent home? Taiwan needs people like you who care about the people and its future, why not shape your career plans to remain here? What is there back in your home country? The West is crazy now. Stay in Taiwan, sire. And sire some good young ones, too!

Can you explian yr reasons for leaving the place you love?

Trevor
UK
Cornwall

My reason to come back to UK? Will tell you later....too.

Nathan W. Novak (李漢聲) said...

Re: Trevor:

For the simple fact a Ph.D. from a university in the States is more marketable. (I know, even though I study China and the Asia-Pacific, a US degree is "better." Trust me: I myself am aware of the cognitive dissonance in those words.)

Don't worry. I have every intention of coming back, if not permanently, then at least often, after the degree is finished.

Jenna said...

Oh, hey, why didn't I notice this before?

In the article, Craig states that Korea and China are the hardest places to live in if you lack a basic vocabulary in the local language. Not quoting exactly but she *did* say China.

Err.

China =/= Taiwan!

Since she was quoting someone else who's actually researched these things, her research is just plain inaccurate. You can't take a quote discussing China and then paste it into your article about Taiwan expecting it to still be valid.

One can (maybe) see the case for it being true in Taizhong, but in Taipei, I can assure you that newbies can get by without a basic vocabulary in Chinese. Optimally, after a few months they'd all acquire that vocabulary but let's be honest - plenty stay for a year or more and never do.

Jenna said...

@Julian -

Yeah, her complaints are wimpy, but that doesn't make them invalid. Some people are just not cut out for life here or anywhere with a similar or lower level of development. That's OK...it's just not right for some folks.

What gets me is that she claims to be this savvy and passionate world traveler who eschews comfort in favor of real world experience, and yet *these* are her complaints/criticisms. I'm not sure whether to call that ironic or hypocritical, but I know what to call Ms. Craig: NOT a "world traveler"!

That's why I feel her criticisms were small-minded: so many places are several orders of magnitude harder to live in and deal with than Taiwan (like, say, all of Africa, most of Central and South America and most of the rest of Asia) and while it's perfectly fine if she's not cut out to visit or live in those places, she a.) doesn't even seem to recognize that they exist or that in comparison Taiwan can be pretty darned nice *and* easy to deal with and b.) has no business saying that "real" travel is her passion in her bio.

Lai Wongbao said...

@Julian: Very well reasoned and I agree with your assessment. (Probably because my personal experiences have been similar.) I wonder, though, if she had written more about work, immigration and labor experiences would it have made a difference to those that are protesting. One can only speculate, I guess.

Readin said...

"One can (maybe) see the case for it being true in Taizhong, but in Taipei, I can assure you that newbies can get by without a basic vocabulary in Chinese. Optimally, after a few months they'd all acquire that vocabulary but let's be honest - plenty stay for a year or more and never do."



From experience I can tell you that living in Taipei, and especially Tianmu, can make aquiring that vocabulary very difficult. The businesses are used to dealing with foreigners so you're not forced to use Chinese.



One of my great frustrations was trying to get my brain to look at the Chinese signs. My brain automatically focused on the English, the stuff I could understand. It didn't matter that 90% was advertisements for Nike or other famous brands. It took me probably 6 months before I could ride a bus down a street and focus mainly on the Chinese.



Of course, it wasn't just living near Tianmu. I also was teaching English (so all my co-workers spoke English) and on my one day off I was dating someone who spoke English.



I did know some Chinese before going to Taiwan, but the immersion experience never really happened for me, much to my regret.

Anonymous said...

Trevor adding this, if it fitrs, both sides now re Judy Collins song:

Katie Ou-Yang in Montreal responded to Canadian expat living in Taiwan now who said SEE BELOW and her reply to him is:

"@andrewevans: ''Please take the time to read the full article, and think from our perspective. Taiwan is not only a place or country for us, it is our home. If anyone was to come to your door and vandalize your home with demeaning words, I’m sure you would be the first to fight against them. We are only trying to do the same. Taiwan may not be for everyone, but the contexts of her article have put down an entire nation simply because we are different. We are standing up against her prejudice comments; our words are not "thin-skinned" responses. We are just protecting our home. By the way, "they're** laughing at YOU"."

Andrew who lives in Taichung a baker's dozen years and loves it, even married there, had posted earlier:

''Taiwan is not for everyone. and the 33 million Canadians like to hear different sides to a story. Everyone else in Canada is reading this for what it is: One Girl's perspective on her experience dealing with a foreign culture. Taiwanese newspapers have no problem portraying Canadians as sex-crazed drunks and druggies all the time. Where is your facebook protest group about that? The only thing causing damage to Taiwan's reputation right now is your thin-skinned over response to this expression of one girl's opinion. 33 million Canadians were slightly bemused by the article, but their laughing at YOU.''

Anonymous said...

TREVOR UK ADDS:

@Jenna

re: "Oh, hey, why didn't I notice this before?
In the article, Craig states that Korea and China are the hardest places to live in if you lack a basic vocabulary in the local language. Not quoting exactly but she *did* say China.
Err.China =/= Taiwan!"

Uh, er, in the entire article she refers to her Taiwanese co-teachers and co-workers at her Joy School gig as "my Chinese teacher" and "my Chinese co-worker..."

Yes, the lady really did think she was in China and still does think that is where she was, 6 years later.....

Jenna said...

Readin -

That is entirely true - living in Taipei and teaching English, especially in Tianmu, can make it difficult. One needs to be both studious and outgoing. Studious in that you have to really commit to studying Chinese, because it's so easy NOT to in Taipei...and outgoing in that you really have to make an effort to create and maintain local friendships (which often means changing your socializing expectations: Taiwanese folks that I get along with tend to be a bit goody-goody, in that "Oh it's 11pm, I better get home because Grandma is waiting" way. Some do stay out late and socialize the way foreigners do but I just don't seem to have much in common with them, just as I didn't have much in common with the young bar-hopper set in DC despite being a night owl myself).

@Anonymous/Trevor: yeah, that is true. She does refer to everyone as "Chinese" but the "China" reference jumped out at me because so many locals refer to themselves as "Chinese" (which is an entirely different debate).

David on Formosa said...

Sorry I'm a bit late to wade into the comments here. I think the article is about the experience of culture shock without the writer recognising or acknowledging that culture shock. If Lindsey Craig had spent seven months in Korea or China she probably would have written much the same article.

The protest is quite ridiculous. The best way to respond to this kind of article is to present an alternative viewpoint. I am sure there must be thousands of Canadians who have spent time in Taiwan that would have something far more positive to say.

David on Formosa said...

Sorry I'm a bit late to wade into the comments here. I think the article is about the experience of culture shock without the writer recognising or acknowledging that culture shock. If Lindsey Craig had spent seven months in Korea or China she probably would have written much the same article.

The protest is quite ridiculous. The best way to respond to this kind of article is to present an alternative viewpoint. I am sure there must be thousands of Canadians who have spent time in Taiwan that would have something far more positive to say.

allegro said...

Actually I was curious to find out what kind of person is Lindsey Craig and she listed herself on linkedin.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/lindscraig

Her work pattern is patchy (a few months here and a few months there) and her skills are hardly worth any mention. And there are significant gaps in her career. Interestingly, she didn't list her Taiwan teaching job either.

It looks like she is just trying to get attention using this article, after realising how little she achieved over the years.

And instead of being smart and try to publish a balanced article without obvious errors, she basically shoot herself in the foot with her article in The Montreal Gazette.

How could anyone be this dumb is beyond me. I don't think I can take this person seriously based on her previous record and her outrageous claim of being a "passionate traveller".

Marc said...

Lindsay Craig's rebuttal to her critics. Purely from a writer's perspective, I think she only exacerbates the criticism in this reposte.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/Note+readers+from+writer+Lindsey+Craig/4404946/story.html

Anonymous said...

Oh god, I wish I had never found this thread. And yet, like a car wreck, I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

There are some incredibly immature and racist statements on this thread. First, for those who say to Ms. Craig, "If you don't like it, leave". Congratulations, you are now part of the same group of Narrowminded Redneck Americans in the deep south who don't want Asians or any other non-whites in their pretty little town. You must be proud of yourselves.

As for Ms. Craigs complaints, I would bet a sizeable amount that her complaints didn't really have anything to do with bugs, smells or pollution. I would try to have a little empathy perhaps, that this young girl, from the middle of Canada, was experiencing culture shock and isolation, as do a lot of Western women in Asia do. I've traveled all over Asia, lived in 3 different Asian countries and its the same everywhere for Western women....isolation and being invisible. There are so many articles about this, shall we say, phenomenon, out there that its not a new concept.
Personally, I am so dissappointed at the reaction from the Taiwanese community. Instead of attacking her, perhaps, a little mature empathy and understanding. It is harder for Westerners to migrate to Asia, than it is for Asians to migrate to the West. Its a fact. I know many Asians who travel to Canada or the USA and immediatly hunker down with the local Asian expat community, many never learning English.
So, lets all just take a deep breath and perhaps find in ourselves the ability to let it roll off your backs. The pillars of Taiwan are still standing and the tourists are still coming in. The sun is still rising and setting everyday.
So, hey, how 'bout Taiwanese keep that reputation of being foreigner friendly and continuing to be helpful to those that do come here and try to be a little empathetic with their situation and the fact that they have made an investment to come to Taiwan and have made by the mere fact of that to learn a little something about Taiwanese culture.
As for the expat community in Taiwan...could show a little more support for your fellow westerners who are having or have had a hard time of it. If you see or know of a lonely expat, perhaps you could be the hero and ask them out for a cup of coffee and help them. Not a lot of expat comarardari here in comparison to other countries I've lived.