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A documentary on the history of Southeast Asian Immigrants in Taiwan

A documentary on the history of Southeast Asian Immigrants in Taiwan

Immigration by Southeast Asians to Taiwan have long been observed decades ago, but due to Chinese customs and traditions, people often chose to forget or deny their Southeastern heritage.

As art teacher at Chuangyi elementary school, Lee Kai-di only learned about his grandmother’s Indonesian heritage after she passed away. In the beginning, he has had a hard time accepting the fact until a Vietnamese-born Taiwanese introduced himself confidently in class one day that he is from a cross-cultural family. This propelled Lee to start tracing and documenting his family roots.

“We begin by doing a self-portrait. For example, you can see that I put emphasis on my lips.” Lee started the class by introducing how to make a self-portrait, and gave each student a mirror, teaching them how to get started.

Kinmen was once a tough place to get by. And as a result, many young, able-bodied men chose to start their businesses in Southeast Asia - and Lee’s grandfather was one of them. In 1949, Lee’s grandfather took his three kids and second wife back to Kinmen. “I remember my two grandmothers got along well,” Lee said, adding that he only learned about the differences and the arguments they had after a brief visit to Kinmen. Meanwhile, he also discovered that his own grandmother had to endure all the unfair accusations and hardship despite having to take care of her own children.

After the Kinmen trip, Lee said it doesn’t matter anymore whether his grandmother was a foreign spouse or foreign-born Taiwanese. Most importantly, he has developed a newfound appreciation and gratitude towards his grandmother.

Updated : 2021-09-27 23:56 GMT+08:00