Interview: Ciwang Teyra
Ciwang Teyra is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at National Taiwan University. The following interview was conducted on September 29, 2017.
Brian Hioe: The first question I want to ask, is how did you first begin participating in social movements? What kind of issues did you participate in and for what reason did you begin participating?
Ciwang Teyra: The earliest I began to participate in social movements was when I first entered college. By participating, I mean starting to organize events. But in middle school and high school, with my father and my family, we would participate in Truku activities.
Because I’m from the Hualien Truku. That was before the Truku was recognized, we were labelled as Atayal then. But we identified as Truku. We were advocating for restoration of our community name then.
Photo credit: 台灣原住民太魯閣族學生青年會/Facebook
I was very small then, it was just going to meetings with my father. For a middle schooler and high schooler, it felt very boring attending these meetings, and not understanding what was being said. I would be by their side, listening to them discuss issues, but I wouldn’t engage in the conversation, it just felt very boring to me.
However, I would listen and after listening to it for a long period of time, then you would slowly come to understand it. Listening to elders discuss history and culture, such as our history of relocation. You would suddenly come to understand one day why this is so important.
I grew up in Hualien and went to high school in Hualien, but in college, I came to Taipei to study at NTU. When I came, there was an organization called the Truku Youth Association (太魯閣族學生青年會). When I entered college, they recruited me right away. And then, not before long, somehow I began head of the club.
Us young people from Hualien that had come to Taipei to began to gather together. By that point, our Truku people had been pushing for recognition of our people for over ten years, without any results. At that time, my father was an important person in the movement for recognition of the Truku. I was the head of the young people’s group. So it was complimentary.
We had our own way of talking about it as young people, which was why we felt restoration of name rights was so important. The reason was because if people of our generation did not understand our culture as much our elders, if we didn’t even have our name recognized, or didn’t even know our own name, what about our next generation. We would worry about this a great deal.
Much as our elders would worry about this, which was why they pushed so strongly for name recognition. From that time, I entered the movement. We organized a lot of conferences or workshops, inviting people to discuss the issue of restoring the name of the Truku. Taiwanese society then wasn’t like now. That period in time, social movements were still seen as rioters. And there was the belief that social movements were something which shouldn’t be discussed.
When we raised our voices, people would ask us why we needed to raise our voices in this way. It was hard to communicate. Society was like that then and there weren’t many young people that participated in social movements. Indigenous young people in 2000 were like that, too, up until 2008.
There were very few indigenous young people that participated in social movements then. The Truku Youth Association became a group that kept raising our voices then, sort of like the Indigenous Youth Front now. People still know us from that.
As a result, it was starting from the movement for recognition that I began participating in social movements. In college, I worked on the recognition issue. In 2004, our name was restored. In 2006, I graduate from college.
So after 2004, what we advocated for was sovereignty. We encountered some issues in the name recognition movement. Such as, if you can say that you are a sovereign nation, who are your members? Can only Truku be members? We began this conversation.
We wrote a constitution for ourselves. It was pretty good, actually. It respected diversity, gender, and sexuality orientation. It was very open-minded. Although this was more like a constitution in idea, it was called a self-autonomy law. For elders, they could not accept this, because it was too open-minded, regarding sexual orientation. But through this kind of conversation with our elders, they could eventually accept this. It’s gone through a lot of revisions now, so isn’t like it was then.
Photo credit: 台灣原住民太魯閣族學生青年會/Facebook
So after our name rights were restored, we worked on this aspect. At the time, a lot of environmental groups wanted to work with us. I was still head of the group then. You know the Asia Cement mine in Taroko National Park? We came to know the Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan, through working with them on that issue. That was before the Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan was formed, but we worked together often then, also regarding issues such as the Suao highway, which was originally planned to be built from Suao to Hualien. And a lot of BOT development projects in Hualien.
There were a lot of such issues. And through this cooperation, we often held press conferences, or had street protests. But large-scale protests such as on the scale of the Sunflower Movement or the anti-nuclear movement didn’t take place. These were smaller scale protests, with several hundred people, not upwards of tens of thousands of people. But this also reflects how society looked at social issues or social movements at that point in time. It didn’t care as much. I’m sure that people cared about these issues, but they didn’t use direct actions to express their views. So why did I go abroad to study? That is also very deeply related to this.
After I graduated from college, I went to the Taiwan Association for Human Rights to work for close to two years. So I began to encounter social issues not just related to indigenous issues. I felt that, particularly after the transition of power between the KMT and DPP, and the DPP didn’t do so well.
That was a period that shook up how I looked at things. We had expectations, seeing as the KMT disregarded human rights, and we felt that the DPP could do better. But after the DPP took power, it seemed as though it was the same. We felt that we had to do things ourselves. If we had too much expectations of them, and gave them power, as though we didn’t have to do anything, and then this could take care of things for them, it would be very hard for there to be any change.
We went through these kinds of conflicted feelings then. But I also noticed something then, which is that whether KMT or DPP, they seemed to be familiar with how we social movement groups or civil society groups did things. They seemed like they felt that we just did these kinds of things, so they had many ways to tell us that they had these policies, and we had to answer in 12 hours or 24 hours. It seemed like were always chasing after these issues, and that we had no way to sit down and slowly consider things, or to build up our statements.
I thought we were very poor at this. Even up to now, I feel that when things happen, we have to respond, but how much support from communities do we really have? We respond as though we represent an agency. But an agency can’t represent everybody. It felt like that. But we had to respond. And working like this, I felt that we didn’t have a firm foothold. I felt that if this was the orientation of social movements then, were there other ways?
So I wanted to go abroad and study, to see, say, what Native Americans in America were doing? Native Americans are very few in number. Taiwanese indigenous are also very few in number. In terms of population. How do they confront mainstream society? It’s for the sake of learning about this that I decided to go abroad and study. Not because I loved studying or something. [Laughs]
Brian Hioe: What kind of changes do you think you have seen? If more young people participate in social movements now.
Ciwang Teyra: I think the changes are quite large, such as with social media. Social media, such as Facebook, has played an important role in connecting people. In the past, because there wasn’t Facebook, we wrote e-mails. And back then, cell phones couldn’t receive e-mails. You have to go home, make sure your house had Internet, and only then could you receive information. Now you can immediately access information. You can plan actions that way.
In the past, when something happened, you would have to write e-mails right away, and if people could come, they could come. If they couldn’t come, they couldn’t come. So you would have situations in which you weren’t able to react fast enough. Now, social media has changed this, allowing young people to stand up.
On the other hand, I also think that young people now have a stronger sense of lacking power over society. Like I said before, I experienced the first time power transitioned out of the hands of the KMT, the DPP doing a poor job, and then the KMT taking power again. So I didn’t have much expectations towards them and believed that an independent course of action was needed. And to think of ways to get them to respect or listen to us.
Photo credit: 台灣原住民太魯閣族學生青年會/Facebook
But young people now haven’t confronted these circumstances. So when the KMT does a bad job, and then it changes to the DPP, and they also do a bad job, this sense of something having gone wrong is very strong. And this is even stronger when the KMT is doing a bad job. I think something that the DPP did, in fact, do well was localizing the curriculum.
I think it still leans very heavily in the direction of Minnanese chauvinism, but I don’t deny that it had its contributions. That this allowed young people to value that Taiwan needs its own story and that Taiwan has its own history. This is a good thing. I feel that because of this, young people had more localized education. When China wants to infringe upon us, trick us, or change the governmental system, this will become very sensitive, and people will feel that they need to protect their own land. This has to do with education, but also that young people feel a sense of powerless, that they are unable to change the sense of circumstances that confront them. And if everyone feels that way, but if we all stand up, we can change this about society. I believe that this had a great deal to do with the rise of the Sunflower Movement.
I believe that not many of those who went to the Sunflower Movement actually understood what the CSSTA was. People would think, “What’s that?” but know it had something to do with China. What the CSSTA, they didn’t know. The people who may have understood the CSSTA may have just been the few lawyers that participated in the movement. Other people are not very clear about it. But why did people have such a strong reaction despite these unclear circumstances? That reflects panic in our society about China as well as the sense of powerlessness that young people have towards society. It was a point for people to release this. On the other hand, its because social media has allowed for this to appear.
Brian Hioe: You mentioned that more indigenous young people began to participate in social movements after 2008. That’s also after the Wild Strawberry movement.
Ciwang Teyra: I think that the Wild Strawberry movement played a certain role. At that time, social media existed. But at the time, I didn’t have Facebook in Taiwan. I only had Facebook after I left Taiwan in 2007. People began participating also because of social media, but Taiwan wasn’t so familiar with social media at that point in time. Now everyone uses it. It’s become a powerful source of motivation or social movements.
Brian Hioe: At the time of 318, you were in America. What kind of activities did you participate in?
Ciwang Teyra: At the time, I was in Seattle. When things broke out, because I was in Seattle, studying for my Ph. D, I felt that there was a lot of local students there studying. Everyone saw what was happening in Taiwan and were concerned about it. But not everyone accepted this. So we made a platform, to allow everyone to gather, and discuss this issue, no matter what your view was. And so we organized a large meeting at my department.
Because I could get space from the Department of Social Work and it would be free. I anticipated that 30 people might attend, since our space wasn’t very large either. 50 or 60 people came, squeezing into the space. I originally though that, because I had a background in social movements, everyone’s voices are very important. So I felt that everyone should have a chance to talk. I myself don’t like when we are represented by others, who claim to speak for you.
But if there are sixty people, and everyone talks, you can’t really discuss anything. We did this the first time, and everyone had a different background. For example, for me, social work was my background. Some people did public health. Some people were in law school. Some people were in medical school. And we discussed the CSSTA from the point of view of our different fields.
What was very interesting was that, although everyone was very interested in the issue, and could discuss from our respective points of view, you could see that everyone was still very unsure and trying to figure out the issue. But what everyone felt was that Taiwan’s future could not be decided so easily in this way. It returns to core issues and why something so important could be decided so quickly. So everyone would return to this.
Photo credit: Felix the Bear/Flickr/CC
That was the first thing we did. After we did that, we began to gradually hold many large-scale forums. We asked Wellington Koo, Yang Cui, and other individuals participating in the movement, to participate by Skype. Since we were students, with no money, we had to use Skype.
A lot of it was regarding education. And because in Seattle, in Washington University, we had a graduate student group, and so I became the head of this. My hope was that, because we were all graduate students, we could concern ourselves with Taiwan from our different areas of specialization and in this way, held many discussions. From indigenous perspectives, from maritime perspectives, such as regarding the South China Seas, we held many discussions. To work on education.
What that returns to is that in a movement, we need people to be willing to listen to and discuss what takes place in an issue, then make their individual decision. Not necessarily imposing their views, but information needs to be raised. Apart from this, if you ask me what events we organized, we held solidarity activities for 330. Seattle had many people. I remember there were 200 or 300 people. We held two events. One was for 324, and one for 330. When we held an event for 324, there wasn’t a lot of people, only fifty or so people showed up.
Many people said that because the planning was too rushed. So they wanted another event so more people could express their views, so we held another one, because there were global solidarity activities regarding 330. 300 people came. We used these kind of ways. But because of my past experience from social movements, organizing this kind of gathering is the easiest way. You can leave after a hour or so. But what is hardest is to break through your social circles and allow for dialogue beyond them. This is why afterwards, we held more education-related events and discussions. Sort of like Cafe Philo, although it wasn’t Cafe Philo in the United States then.
Brian Hioe: How do you see Taiwanese identification as related to your participation in Taiwanese social movements? Because, as we discussed earlier, the mainstream of Taiwanese social movements are Han and there is marginalization of indigenous in these movements.
Ciwang Teyra: I think this is a good question. In the past, I wasn’t as clear about where Taiwanese indigenous were put in regards to views of Taiwan’s status. Because when I worked at the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, I was the only indigenous worker there.
Many of the people there were university professors. We didn’t discuss the inclusivity or exclusivity of views of human rights. We would support any issue regarding human rights violations, so we would work with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline, and other groups, like migrant worker groups, and the Green Party, and some environmental groups. At that time, I didn’t think too much about this, because indigenous issues were important to them, and indigenous views were respected.
I also think that’s within the social circles of those who participate in social movements. For example, the two of us discussing this, I’d know you are open-minded. I’d know that you would be open to accepting my views. I’m not sure if it has to do with generational differences. But when I went to America, it was very different.
Brian Hioe: Such as among elders.
Ciwang Teyra: Yeah. Such as among elders, who might have a lot of resources to sponsor different political parties in Taiwan, but then you might realize that the way they thought about it was from the point of view of Minnanese chauvinism. I remember quite clearly that when I was in Seattle organizing an event, I had good relations with the Taiwan local association there, because I believed that as an indigenous, we need to step out and have interactions with them to understand.
So I am very happy to do this. I have good relations with Taiwan Economic Cultural Office for the same reason. I won’t reject any opportunity to collaborate. I would invite the Taiwan local association to collaborate, such as when I invited an elder known very well among Taiwanese indigenous to share his experiences. He happened to be in Seattle then, so I invited him to talk about indigenous lands.
Photo credit: Y.H. Kao/Flickr/CC
There were some elders from the Taiwan local association, who were also very well known locally, and one of them asked a question. “Indigenous are so few in number. Why do you have to divide yourself between so many groups? Why not just be one group of indigenous? Just learn Hoklo! We can all work together.” It’s the point of view of assimilation. What’s the difference from the KMT government? And if indigenous should all just be one group, why not just have Taiwan and China also just be one nation? That’s how I look at it.
I responded politely then, but you can see that’s the perspective behind how they ask about it. I remember—it was quite cute—there was a grandmother, who spoke to me in Hoklo—because I actually can speak Hoklo—“Can you speak ‘Taiwanese’?” I don’t like this concept of “Taiwanese” language, because unless its very inclusive, only then will I respect that terminology. But I believe that this terminology belongs to a specific group in Taiwan, that is, Minnanese. So I told her, “Grandmother, I can speak our indigenous language.” And she was like, “Indigenous are Taiwanese too! They should also learn our Taiwanese language.” This left a deep impression on me.
Whenever the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) is discussing sovereign independence, I would never be certain whose sovereign independence is being discussed. If you don’t talk clearly, then your position is unclear. There are some who are open-minded in FAPA, but those I encountered were also like that. So I feel that when we talk about sovereign independence and ask indigenous to express their views, internally we should have a clear idea of what we are discussing.
My view is this: If there is sovereign independence, it must be a form of inclusive independence. What about waishengren? They’re also Taiwanese. There’s no reason to push them out. Minnanese are also Taiwanese. Hakka are also Taiwanese. Indigenous are also Taiwanese. We are all Taiwanese. Sovereign independence should be of those of us who live together on this piece of land and share a common life, who identify with this piece of land, and have historical experience on Taiwan. They should all be counted as Taiwanese, not with any form exclusion.
Once we have reached this point, then we can talk about sovereign independence. But if you just are trying to force us to accept your culture, then I have no way. Since I’ve been forced to do this already for a very long time. This is how I hear a lot of Hakka discuss this, too. This is not to say that I don’t advocate independence, I firmly do, but my sovereign independence is very inclusive, without any exclusivity.
Brian Hioe: What kind of movement do you think the Sunflower movement was? The most amount of people may have opposed the black box and the least amount of people opposed free trade as a whole, but somewhere in between was opposition to China and opposition to the KMT.
Photo credit: Abby Chen/Flickr/CC
Ciwang Teyra: I think we can justify it more as opposition to the black box. Because unless you are very familiar with the CSSTA, regarding opposition which line and which item, you can’t be very sure. Because I don’t specialize in that. So at the time, I felt that because we don’t understand this, and because information is not clear enough, can we wait a bit until we understand it more and are familiar with it before we discuss whether to pass it or not?
I opposed it from the point of view of the process being improper, and not being so urgent to pass it. And if you were very urgent to pass it, you should speak clearly. But that was a lack of communication.
Brian Hioe: Do you think that there is any political orientation to Taiwanese social movements? Because I feel what is quite interesting is that most people say that they lean left or that Taiwanese social movements are more left-wing. That’s being more progressive on issues ranging from indigenous issues to support of same-sex marriage or opposing the death penalty. I think it’s quite comprehensive.
Ciwang Teyra: I think it’s quite hard to separate these. There’s a term called ‘intersectionality.’ I think it’s related to that, not whether it’s left or right. I think that people are too quick to say that they are left-wing, I would encourage them to stop and consider their life experiences. In terms of being left-wing, is that with regards to your perspective or your behavior?
Sometimes this isn’t the same. You might see someone who seems very left-wing that drives around in a fancy car. I’m not sure about that. There are too many layers which need to be stated clearly, so I wouldn’t put myself in a box.
II’s like intersectionality. There is a me with many dimensions, regarding how I look at things, so I don’t divide very strongly between left and right. I don’t think that “right-wing” people are necessarily really right, nor that “left-wing” people are necessarily left. So I think that we have to confront our real-life behavior to look at this thing as well. I think that it’s being too quick to put yourself in a category to discuss being left-wing, so I wouldn’t do that, because it doesn’t consider this beforehand.
What do we define as left-wing? Sometimes it isn’t very clear. Sometimes you discuss class and opposition to class divisions, but you yourself are an intellectual, for example. Should you get rid of your learning? I have difficulty convincing myself to claiming a perspective, so I don’t claim a perspective, and focus on intersectionality. I make decisions on the basis of my experiences.
My life experiences are that I am indigenous and am very open-minded regarding issues of gender and sexuality, so my own behavior is open. I also believe that one has to support migrant workers, because I’ve also spent time outside of Taiwan in another land, and experienced the difficulties that come with that. Because of these different factors, I make my decisions regarding different issues.
Photo credit: Charlie Chang/Flickr/CC
Brian Hioe: Three years later, do you think this movement has influenced Taiwanese politics? How so? For example, in terms of politicians such as Tsai Ing-Wen or Ko Wen-Je being elected?
Ciwang Teyra: I think it has influenced Taiwanese politics. I think it is a good thing. It needed to be influenced, which is what this movement has led to. Ko Wen-Je wouldn’t have been elected if not for this movement. Everyone would think that this is quite amazing, that a new force has appeared, but might not support him.
That something previously impossible would take place, such as occupying the Legislative Yuan. Which is not say that it was impossible, but that people would be arrested right away. After that, many things which previously seemed impossible didn’t seem impossible any more. I felt it changed many political trends.
But I also want to state that it only changed more specific areas. Such as urban areas, as Taipei. Jennifer Lu or Miao Poya could only run because Taipei is an urban area and people can speak frankly about issues. This is not to say that this can’t occur in rural areas, but they have their culture, in terms of election culture, and interpersonal connections. It’s not the same as here.
So looking at villages, with village chiefs and representatives, have these political trends changed? I believe that there hasn’t been change. You can point to the decline in KMT wins, but that’s just in the election. These people are still around.
They ran using the KMT party identification, but they discovered that this doesn’t work anymore. That if you run under the KMT you may lose. They can just take off this label and run independently and will win. I’m not sure this has changed. I also remind myself of this and encourage friends and young people that, wanting to change Taiwanese political culture, we have to return to our own places, to use civic education, and discuss these issues. This isn’t top-down, which I think is the most unsuccessful means. It should be everyone together.
Because when you leave where you originally lived, such as when you go to the city for work or study, or go abroad for the same reasons, you will have a distance from where you originally lived. It’s the same for everybody. It’s the same for me as well. So I feel that we need a way to decrease this distance, using different means, such as dialogue. If we go back and tell people, “This is what you should do,” people won’t listen to you. You can’t change things that way. Everyone needs to work hard and be more flexible. We need to learn to sit down and talk with everyone, not from a high level. It’s like that. Taiwan’s civic awakening still has room for improvement in that way.
Brian Hioe: Three years later, what do you think that participants in social movements are doing?
Ciwang Teyra: I have a friend who started participating social movements at the same time as me. When I left for abroad, I asked him how he looked at it. I don’t know how he would say it now—this was three years ago—but he said that he didn’t think that any civil awakening was really happening.
He said that many people participated in politics, because some people who were younger, were still trying to figure out what they were doing. When you’re young, you have a lot of doubts towards society, and a lot of views about society. When something big happen in society, everyone sees that something is lacking. That becomes an excuse to do something. People might not necessarily understand everything about an issue. This is what we see. Does everyone continue to participate in social movements? Probably not. So people will decline in participation over time.
Brian Hioe: How do you think China looks at the Sunflower Movement? They probably aren’t too happy that this took place. In particular, people studying abroad at the time of the Sunflower Movement may have encountered more Chinese people.
Photo credit: Jasen Yang/Flickr/CC
Ciwang Teyra: They would be very puzzled as to what had happened. I had a friend, a Chinese person that I knew quite well, and was very aware of my views. When things took place, he called me, asking what had happened. I asked, “Are you sure you want to know? If you’re prepared, then I can discuss it with you. If you aren’t, it may be best to talk about it later.” And he said, he really wanted to know.
We talked about it. I felt that if we use the improper process to discuss it, they can understand it, Chinese studying in America, that is. I don’t know what the views of Chinese people in China would be. But they can understand that if its something important that energy should be spent on discussing it. Yet they might be like, “Are you really that afraid of China?”
There might be that kind of sense of distance. And I would raise that China had missiles facing Taiwan at all times, so you can’t blame Taiwanese for having this sense of doubt towards China. We would gradually have dialogue regarding that. Most Chinese I know in America still can’t accept Taiwanese independence, so if you discuss the CSSTA in the frame of Taiwanese independence, they still can’t accept this.
But I’ve encountered some people in Seattle advocating for Chinese democracy. I think its quite particular. And their position is that they are very patriotic, but at the same time, because they are pursuing Chinese democracy, they also see Taiwanese democracy as close to themselves. These people will invite us from University of Washington, such as myself or other students, to share our experiences with them. It was a very interesting situation, that they would consider this as an example to learn from for their own country.
Brian Hioe: Have you ever encountered people from China’s so-called “ethnic minorities”?
Ciwang Teyra: When I was in graduate student, I did. I found that they are often afraid to discuss this issue, because its very sensitive. When I was studying my MA, I met someone who was Uighur. I remember in 2008, there seemed to be a large incident in Xinjiang, in which the situation was tense. I remember when I met him in 2008, Chinese people spoke to him in Mandarin, but he always responded in English.
I wondered, “Is it that he understands Mandarin, but can’t speak Mandarin?” I was very puzzled. So I asked the Chinese students, “Does he only speak English?” And they said, “He can speak Mandarin, he’s Chinese.” So I figured he was really just Chinese, I didn’t think too much about it. I ran into him once while buying coffee, so I tried talking to him in Mandarin, not thinking too much, and just said, “Hello! How are you?” He ignored me and walked away. And I wondered, “What’s up with this person”?
Until the second year of my MA, during self-introductions, I mentioned that I was indigenous and etc. And he ran over right away and was like, “So you were indigenous!” in Mandarin. And I was like, “So you speak Mandarin after all?” The first question he asked me was that, “Are Han people as bad in Taiwan?” [Laughs] So we chatted and he told me that to leave the country, he needs 25 people to co-sign for him to leave the country. And if on the back of their national identity card, if they are listed as from an ethnic minority, social discrimination is very heavy. He said he was quite nervous studying in America, because he said there definitely were spies.
He was quite afraid and was too afraid to talk much further with me. He kept looking around. I said, “Are there really spies? I can’t believe that in this day and age.” He said, “No, no, there really are spies.” And listed various people he thought were spies. So it’s somewhat impossible for Chinese indigenous peoples to be involved in these kinds of events. I asked him, “Do you plan on returning after graduating? Does your family hope that you can use your experiences to change things for your people?” He said, “Ah, don’t say that.” He said he didn’t dare, that he was too afraid. I could understand. This is Taiwan’s positive point. No matter what political party does good or bad, Taiwanese society gives us a space for there to be different views, without restriction on this.
Photo credit: Tinru/Flickr/CC
Brian Hioe: Lastly, do you think that there could possibly be another social movement in Taiwan like the Sunflower Movement? If so, how? And do you think that the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan can influence international social movements?
I believe that it could happen again. If it happened once, it can happen again. Could it be larger? It’s not impossible, but I’m not sure what would cause it to happen. Would I look forward to something like it happening? If it doesn’t occur, that represents that Taiwanese society is okay. This isn’t to say that I oppose any street protest, on the other hand, I very much support street protests. If it doesn’t happen, that means that Taiwanese society hasn’t been backed into a corner, in which this has to occur.
As a result, I would hope that it doesn’t happen. But if society needs this strength to confront an unequal situation, to balance what is unbalanced, then I would look forward to something like this happening again. And I believe that young people today, who have experienced the Sunflower Movement or the many other movements going on, will very easily put themselves onto a politically correct position to look at things.
For example, while teaching, I can feel this quite clearly. Students are very afraid of saying politically incorrect things. But I tell them, “Don’t be afraid of this. Because if you would say something, it’s maybe because you don’t understand something enough. So I would hope that you talk about what you don’t understand so that we can have dialogue about this. Otherwise you’re just suppressing this.” American society is facing this now. Donald Trump being elected has a great deal to do with this.
I believe that dialogue is needed, otherwise it would always be like this. I always say in class, “Don’t be afraid to talk. You can talk. This is school. We can discuss properly.” I think this may happen again in the future, but I hope in the interim, no matter what kind of movement we are involved in, or those that look forward to how social movements can benefit Taiwan, I think we should all think carefully about who to have dialogue with those different from ourselves.
Brian Hioe: And do you think Taiwanese social movements can influence the international world?
Ciwang Teyra: I think so. For example, like the Tongzhi Hotline. I believe that Taiwan is an example, in which there aren’t any other countries as open-minded or supportive about LGBTQ issues. Of course, Taiwan still has room to improve, but Taiwan has become respected for this and this is an issue which is at least centrally discussed. This can provide an example for other countries to provide.
With the Sunflower Movement, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong can reflect on this, although the form it takes will be different. Taiwan’s indigenous movement can also be an example for other countries. Because I think our indigenous movement is doing quite well. For example, we made a 3D map of our traditional territories. America doesn’t have this, so I would share with them how we are working on this. Using bamboo sheets stacked on top of each other. They think that is a way they could learn. So I think there are a lot of experience we could share. We are building towards this.