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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Category
7. Hakka Village Visit

Project Managers: Rebecca and David

Compared to the diverse ethnicities of America and Canada, Taiwan’s ethnic groups are relatively simple –– we can divide it into three main groups: the Hakka, the Taiwanese, and the aboriginal tribes. To allow our fellows from abroad gain a better understanding of our culture, we decided that we absolutely needed to let them experience for themselves the life and environment of a traditional Hakka village. Why this Hakka village specifically? For practical purposes –– because it is the best destination that is both authentic to the original culture, and conveniently located enough to reach by bus.

     The weather was already gloomy when we got on the bus. When we reached about one third of the trip, it started pouring, and the fellows sitting near me had all forgotten their raincoats. It continued to rain when we got there, so we had to make last-second adjustments and cancel two activities that would be affected by the rain. However, the rain also solved the problem of heat and mosquitoes, which had plagued the previous years of SIT when they visited the same place. The cool weather was extremely welcome in the typical summer heat.

        Building kilns was a fun activity to start the event off. There was a challenging feel to it, with elements of cooperation and competition to make things even more interesting. The smoke, however, made our eyes and noses very irritable once the fire started burning.

        The tour around the old sheds with traditional farming and capturing equipment was held simultaneously with the straw-weaving by splitting everyone into two groups, and having both groups take turns going to both sides. The straw-weaving turned out to be a toy sword, and the tour was very interactive and engaging with its operational mills.

        After a very gratifying dinner from the kilns we built, we skipped night activities (due to the rain) and went straight to pound some mochi! Volunteers took turns wielding a big hammer to smash a big piece of mochi over and over, making it nice, soft and chewy. It became increasingly difficult with every swing. After some guys took a swing at it, girls went up to hold the hammer and pose for photos.

        Finally, it was time to grind our own tea, and enjoy the mochi we had been vigorously hammering. Surprisingly, the fellows enjoyed the tea as it was –– hot. We had gotten ice cubes to cool it down, but they expressed that it was better while hot.

        Overall, the entire event was smooth, if not for the rain, and the fellows definitely left with some fond memories and new knowledge of Hakka culture.

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