Polish culture attracts appreciation in Taiwan

Poland's soft power represented by great artists, writers and musicians

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Olimpia Kot-Giletycz and Bartosz Ryś from the Polish Office in Taipei.

Olimpia Kot-Giletycz and Bartosz Ryś from the Polish Office in Taipei. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Going abroad is not the only option for getting a taste of foreign culture, as Taiwanese are set to enjoy the rich culture of Poland through the European nation's literary and musical achievements.

The year 2020 marks the 210th birthday of Frédéric Chopin, a legendary Polish pianist celebrated worldwide for his masterpieces. Supported by the Polish Office in Taipei, the "Discovering Chopin" concert was held in Taiwan's capital on May 8, with a performance by the Polish pianist based in Taipei, Kamil Tokarski.

Although only around 400 Poles currently live in Taiwan, for Bartosz Ryś, the Acting Head of the Polish Office in Taipei, both students and professionals performers are ambassadors for their homeland. Classical music can give Taiwanese audiences an excellent entry point for learning about the Central European country, he said.

Polish books are also getting attention from Taiwanese readers. For example, "Flights," by the Nobel Prize laureate in literature for 2018, Olga Tokarczuk, is a noted book of fictionalized travel histories.

Another popular title is "Dancing Bears" by Witold Szabłowski, who visited Taipei in February. It's a work of literary journalism about the struggles and confusion of people living in post-authoritarian countries as they learn to be free.

The educational philosophy of Polish educator, Janusz Korczak, has been gaining popularity among Taiwanese parents, too, especially since Taiwan ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Known as the Old Doctor, Korczak believes each child has an innate personality, and he emphasizes an unprejudiced approach and the importance of care and attention when teaching children.

Beyond cultural exchanges, Ryś is convinced that Poland offers an attractive environment for Taiwanese investors. Given that companies from the EU have more than 30 percent of the foreign investment in Taiwan, Taiwan's investment in the EU is disproportionately low. Ryś believes the island nation's expertise in the IT and ICT industries will be its strength when entering the EU market.