Our FAPA group is having a wonderful time in Taiwan so far! I am incredibly grateful to be part of such an exciting trip, and am thankful to all of you who helped to make this experience possible for us.
We started our journey in Kaohsiung, where we had the privilege of meeting both Kaohsiung mayor Chu-lan Yeh and mayoral candidate Chen Chu. We even had the chance to observe a campaign rally for Chen Chu, and it was very exciting to see so many people out to support her. There were female candidates, politicians, and leaders from all over southern Taiwan at the rally--I am extremely impressed by the number of women involved in Taiwanese politics. After the rally, our bus followed the campaign trucks through the city--people stopped to watch, wave, and wave green flags at our little parade. It's so much fun to see Taiwanese democracy in action.
Campaigns are out in full force here--street corners are filled with banners and signs for the various candidates, and trucks drive through the city with banners and loudspeakers advertising for candidates. Being able to meet with people at National Chengchi University's Election Study Center, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, and the Mainland Affairs Council has helped me to better understand the election system and the central issues in this election cycle. We were also fortunate enough to have an appointment with Bi-khim Hsiao, a member of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan. I feel so lucky to be learning about Taiwanese politics from such influential and knowledgeable people.
I've saved the most exciting news for last: we got to meet President Chen this morning!!! We were able to spend more than an hour conversing with him, hearing his opinions on both domestic and international issues. I was especially impressed by how down-to-earth and personable he was, and by how much time he took out of his busy schedule to meet with FAPA-YPG. Iris presented President Chen with an American flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol Building and a U.S. Capitol Building snow globe. Rumor has it that pictures of our group with President Chen have been airing on Taipei television stations, but we haven't had a chance to see the news yet.
Thanks again to all of you who are supporting our trip--it's been an incredible learning experience so far, and I'm looking forward to observing the election on Saturday!