Democracy and Elite’s in Taiwan

Democracy and Elite’s in Taiwan


Prior to this summer I had never left the United States.  However, I was lucky enough to expand my horizons and visit both the Dominican Republic and Spain over the course of this past summer.  The latter trip to Spain was an unbelievable experience for me.  In addition to playing games against several professional Spanish basketball teams, I had the opportunity to explore the cities of Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid.  It was an eye opening trip for me, and whetted my appetite to discover cultures different than my own.  It was on this trip that I received an email from Adam to apply for a grant to conduct research for three weeks in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for three weeks with other members of the Colby basketball team.  I jumped at the opportunity. 


Once myself and the rest of the my teammates converged on campus in September we hit the ground running.  Our first task was to figure out what our individual research projects would center on.  As a government major I knew I wanted to focus on some aspect of democracy in Taiwan, as its political system is drastically different than that of its closets neighbor, and bitter enemy, the People’s Republic of China.  In my preliminary research I found that unlike China, Taiwan has a vibrant democracy, with high levels of freedom of speech and press.  Once I discovered this, I decided I wanted to research how students at an elite international school learned abut their own country\’s political history, and what role they saw themselves playing, if any, in their democracy.


One aspect of this semester that aided me in coming up with a research question were the classes I took.  For the government major I am required to take two classes that concern countries other than America.  Dreading these classes, I put them off, and ended up having to take both this semester.  By taking Introduction to African Politics, and Comparative Japanese Politics, I was forced to think comparatively about governance in countries other than mine, as well as learn about a political system and its nuances in a short period of time.  These skills were a challenge to acquire, as they required endless hours of, at times, mind numbingly boring readings.  However, these skills helped me greatly this past semester, and will continue to help me as I move through my research project.


In addition to exploring a country that I have never been to, tasting the food, seeing the sights, and experiencing life in Taiwan, I am also excited to learn how elite students see themselves, and the role they play in their countries governance.  Students in the Kaohsiung American School (KAS) will almost all continue on to colleges and universities in the United States.  I am interested in seeing if these students plan to return to Taiwan and better their country, or if they have no deep ties to the wellbeing of Taiwan.  It will also be fascinating to see if the school administrators at KAS hope that their students remain in the United States, or if they see them as a part of Taiwan’s future.