One who learned to communicate with nature — Ahronglong Sakinu of Taiwan's Paiwan tribe

Ahronglong Sakinu has been accustomed to mountains since he was small

Ahronglong Sakinu (National Academy for Educational Research photo)

Ahronglong Sakinu (National Academy for Educational Research photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In the latest episode of the I-Fun Learning website's Celebrity Interviews, renowned Paiwan Taiwanese writer Ahronglong Sakinu (撒可努) was invited to talk about his interactions with nature and the traditional wisdom of humans coexisting with nature.

I-Fun Learning is part of the National Academy for Educational Research (NAER), which provides resources for teachers and students.

“When you walk into the mountains, you must harbor nothing but respect and humbleness for the land and environment,” Sakinu said. He began by describing how resourceful nature is as well as his own experience interacting with nature.

Sakinu first mentioned the plant Acalypha angatensis, which was once a very useful plant for indigenous tribal elders, who regarded its leaves as an equivalent to tissue paper. He pointed out that the leaf is covered with fine, soft fuzz, saying that older family members told him to bring the leaves with him for use when passing a stool.

When it rained, he said his grandmother would give him a leaf from a Giant Elephant's Ear plant so that he could use it as an umbrella. He added that sometimes his grandfather would fold the leaf into a hat for him when it rained.

Almost 80 percent of Taiwan’s land is covered by mountains, but many Taiwanese people seem unfamiliar with or even afraid of them, he continued. He has been accustomed to mountains since he was small.

“You unconsciously listen to the wind changing direction, notice nature's changing smells, and watch the bees move,” he went on to say. “You don’t have to watch the Discovery channel because it’s unfolding in front of your eyes. You don’t have to discover things on purpose, because you‘ll discover many things naturally.”

Acalypha angatensis leaves (National Academy for Educational Research photo)