So last week I had my impact trip, which is a school trip (most are about 3 days long) that is supposed to teach you some overall lesson. Each grade has a different theme. This year’s theme (seventh grade) was Building Bridges. We went to a village home to the Paiwan people. The Paiwanese people are an aboriginal group in Taiwan. After the impact trip, we were assigned a project to choose a way to show our learning from the trip. I chose the form of a blog post, and decided that it would be fun to publish it on my actual blog as well. I hope you enjoy!
The Paiwanese people have lots of really cool aspects of their culture that we learned about on our trip. We learned several traditional songs (all in Paiwanese) which were really cool and (I think) really helped people hang on to their original language. Pretty much all of the Paiwanese elders spoke fluent Paiwanese and they were all really into the songs. It seemeed like a really fun way for them to connect with their culture while having fun.
We also did several different crafts with the Paiwanese. Some of these were making headdresses and bead bracelets. The headdresses were really fun (although challenging and sometimes frustrating). They had woven flowers and a little fern tail in the back. The hardest part was getting the leaves to stick up so the headdress “wouldn’t make you look like you were 80.” The bracelets were also really fun and we learned some really intricate knots in order to keep the beads from falling off!
We learned how to make traditional food as well. My favorite was grinding millet, which is a grain that is the Paiwanese staple food. You ground it in what was pretty much a huge mortar and pestle. It was really fun learning how grinding millet gave families quality time, because it was a daily chore and you could talk and laugh with your family while doing it.
We also took a trip to the original Paiwanese village, which they left because of inadequate availability to medical sites and other problems. It was a beautiful stone village, and I really enjoyed seeing it. The stone school that was built during the Japanese Occupation of Taiwan was still there and it was just fascinating to learn about the history of this place. There were even some elders who spoke Japanese and were able to communicate with some of the students who spoke Japanese. It was really interesting to see how their lives were actually shaped by this occupation, and to think about whether it was for the better or not.
The lifestyle of Paiwanese people today is much like that of other families who live in rural, less populated areas. I do think that it was really inspiring to see how hard they were working to stay connected with their tradition and heritage. Overall, it was an amazing trip and I would love to go again.