Taiwan society has many lessons to teach

By Sergio San Sebastian

I come from Mexico City. I remember my first memory about Taiwan was when I was 6 or 8 years old, when I learned that some of my toys had a logo that said “Made in Taiwan.” I was a curious boy then, the mark made me imagine sights and stories in an unknown place. Years later, I started to develop a sense of interest for Asian cultures, primarily Japanese and Chinese.

I traveled first to China and Japan as part of my work, and continued learning more about Asian development, since I was working in Mexico-Asia relations. Two years ago I was sent to Taipei to assist in a two-week workshop about Taiwan’s economic development. Finally after almost two decades, I was traveling to that unknown place of my childhood.

When I arrived in Taipei, I felt a strange feeling of belongingness and familiarity. I stayed here for two weeks studying about Taiwan’s economy, and also had the opportunity to visit important places such as TAITRA, ITRI, Hsinchu Science Park and the first export special zone in Kaohsiung. I went back thinking I wanted to come and live in Taipei. I finally did, and I am here, studying my MBA. Taiwan has a rich cultural heritage and a complex history that makes Taiwanese very flexible and adaptable to change. For me, Taiwan in itself is a mixture of the ancient and modern. In my stay here in Taiwan, I finally understood what the logo “Made in Taiwan” on my toys meant. It means showcasing the Taiwanese people’s talent and hard work, acknowledging the efforts of the local corporations and the government. I can see the dedication of yesteryear’s generation that helped set a good standard for companies, schools, and universities. Indeed, Taiwan has built an economy with hard work, and has invested so much to educate its people, which has eventually led to their nation’s progress.

A lot of things make sense to me now: schools everywhere, businesses everywhere, appreciating peace and tranquility, perseverance, and getting the most out of everything. Almost all the big Taiwanese companies were built from scratch but today they serve as important key players in world economics. I am sure there will be some challenges along the road, but the Taiwanese have an entrepreneurial society deeply rooted in ancient Confucian values. There is definitely no doubt that we can all learn from Taiwan’s rich history and society.