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Creating a friendly environment for migrant workers in Taipei. Putting ourselves in their shoes starts with a series of “Party of Southeast Asia Stories”.

     As of March of 2020, the number of migrant workers in Taiwan reached 710,800. A number of those workers are employed as caregivers. In Taipei alone, there are more than 40,000 families who have hired foreign workers as caregivers. These migrant workers can, and often, introduce a great deal of diversity to their areas. Their different styles of dress, cuisine, and customs can be enjoyed and appreciated. It enriches our local culture.

     This year, the Taipei City Government devised an ingenious plan to place migrant workers’ culture on display for the public by holding an event sharing stories of foreign migrant workers known as the “Party of Southeast Asian Stories.” The selected stories focused on the lives and cultures of Southeast Asian workers (Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, et al.) They were designed to help our citizens understand foreign migrant workers’ cultures and lives, to create a friendly and more beneficial environment for workers, employers, and the public at large.

     Chen, Hsin-Yu from the Department of Labor in the Taipei City Government, who made this all possible, recognizes that in Taipei there are many migrant workers living in citizens’ homes. Therefore, most citizens lack the opportunity to know migrant workers, and their experiences. Director Chen has invited all citizens to participate in this program titled “Party of Southeast Asia’s Stories” and get to know migrant work’s life.

     The start of the stories’ series coincided with a blessing ceremony on Eid al-Fitr on May 24 of 2020, where our citizens were invited to get better acquainted with the Islamic religion. It’s an especially important day for Muslims and marks the end of Ramadan. On the day of Eid al-Fit, a message-wall of turmeric rice was erected at South Gate 2 of the Taipei Main Station. On it, some blessings were left for Indonesian migrant workers, who practice Islam. After the activity, the message wall was moved to the Enjoy Taipei Restaurant situated at the first floor of Taipei City Hall. It was displayed for one week. Passersby, citizens and others, were welcomed to write down their own blessings, and there were also chances for them to win prizes.

     Followed by various other events like, the “Traveling to the Philippines-centric Area on Holidays” and “Getting a Taste of the Light Food and Clothing of Vietnam,” the government is continuing its commitment to promote the cultures of foreign workers in Taiwan by using more enjoyable events. Each event places a significant importance on fun to remove obstacles and increase our citizen’s awareness to the Southeast Asia’s cultures.

     Besides parties and workshops, the Taipei City government has also created a writing activity. Titled, “The Learning to be Alone in Other Country,” people are given the chance to write compositions detailing their ideas on the types of trials and tribulations someone living alone in a foreign country might experience. This activity aims at making the cultural exchange profound and increasing the amount of empathy for the migrant workers, who leave family and friends behind to work in Taiwan. It gives the author a chance to trade places, if only for a little while, with these foreign workers, and the different cultures will be visualized with words. Compositions can be submitted starting on May 23, 2020 and the deadline for all papers is September 27, 2020. Submissions will be reviewed and judged with the award-winning compositions being published. Anyone who has an interest in writing is encouraged to submit their works. Coinciding with this writing contest, the government also planned an activity called “The Human Library of Migrant Workers.” This activity focuses on allowing workers and locals the opportunity to have face to face dialog.

     Information regarding these cultural events and activities can be found on our website: https://www.2020storyparty.com. We encourage you to contact Ms. Jang at (02)2338-1600 #4212 or go to Facebook and search for the Fan page “Hand in Hand at Taipei” if you have any questions. Please look forward to updates as they become available.