I’ve arrived in Taiwan for my five-month Fulbright adventure, and I’m staying just outside the city at Taipei University of the Arts, in a guest room on a very beautiful campus. The buildings climb up a hill overlooking mountains and a wetlands river basin, with dramatic views of Taipei—including what was once the world’s tallest building. When I leave the university, a shuttle bus takes me to an efficient subway line for a 30-45 minute trip into town. (This is similar to but easier than my commute at home.)
I’ve been exploring all manner of museum art, Buddhist and folk temples, city sights both shiny and gritty, and the beauties of birds, plants, landscape—and food! I’m lucky to have a large temple and two sculpture sites near me, at Guandu Nature Park and Bamboo Curtain Studio. I can also see many kinds of birds—Taiwan is a destination for bird-watching—another focus of my project. All in all it’s a great location for me, especially as the steamy September heat cools down a bit in October and the air is clearer here on the mountainside.
As I prepare to teach a compressed-semester workshop of one 6-hour afternoon a week for 9 weeks, I’m also reaching out and meeting people in various fields. I always ask what they know about human-bird connections in art, religion, or myth in Taiwan’s mixed cultures and many indigenous groups. So I’ve been collecting many stories and references to follow up!