It's hard to imagine I'm already in Taiwan and participating in the FAPA-YPG Democracy in Action observation tour! I'm still reeling from the hour and a half long meeting we just had with President Chen this morning. The entire experience thus far has surpassed anything I could have imagined. Everyone on the tour brings to the table such differing experiences, that I'm learning not just from the observation tour, but from the members of the tour as well.
Working for a U.S. Member of Congress and being involved with the democratic process in the States, it's really exciting to see how the Taiwanese people participate in the relatively young democracy here in Taiwan. The President spoke of the need for a Free Trade Agreement between the US and Taiwan and the implications of Taiwan's increasing role in the global economy. And just being here in Taiwan to witness the improvements being made everyday to the infrastructure, to the local economy and to the general well-fare of the Taiwanese people, it inspires me even more to go back to the States and really impress upon my boss, and other Members of Congress the need for a US-Taiwan FTA.
Okay, so aside from the political jargon - having not been to Taiwan since I was in 6th grade, I must say Taiwan has changed and developed exponentially. I arrived in Kaohsiung on Sunday morning and spent the day touring the southern port city and enjoying the incredibly friendly people. It just so happened that the President and the DPP Mayoral candidate for Kaohsiung were holding a rally by the Love River and it was amazing to see the thousands of Taiwanese people lined up holding hands and participating in an event that just some odd years ago could not have been possible. Standing on the side just watching the crowd, I was excited when the Vice President of Taiwan happened to walk by and I got to shake her hand!
We arrived in Taipei on Monday evening and started meetings bright and early on Tuesday. I'd say the most notable for me was the meeting with a legislator representing a district of Taipei, Hsiao Bi-Khim. I was already a huge fan of hers before the meeting, but after the meeting, I think it's safe to say all of us were "starry-eyed" and incredibly hopeful for Taiwan's future because of her vision and drive. Her understanding of the economic realities of the Cross-Strait relationship and the future possibility of Taiwan independence is probably in the minority of her own party, and yet, she still holds strongly by it and seeks to implement it in the future.
It's only day 3 of the Democracy in Action tour and already we've done and experienced so much. Can't wait to see what's up next and update later!