On Nov. 12, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office hosted The Mandarin Learning Expo & Taiwanese Culture and Cuisine Fair in its halls. Booths were lined up, ready to spread information about Taiwan and hand out prizes. Despite the day being very hot, many attendees were happily roaming the halls and enjoying the different activities on display.
As a joint venture between various corporations and the aforementioned Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, The Mandarin Learning Expo exists as an exemplary display of cultural diaspora. The various booths, run by companies such as Eva Air, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and the Cerritos Chinese School featured language games, a pachinko-esque game made out of wood and fan making.
All the booths were in service of sharing an aspect of Taiwanese culture to anyone who walked through the door. In addition to the various activities, information on language learning centers was also distributed. In the main hall, a stage was set for various important presenters to give remarks on the current state of relations between Taiwan and the United States, as well as discussing the success of sharing the Mandarin language across Southern California.
Due to the U.S-Taiwan Education Initiative, efforts to teach Mandarin have been successful across the United States; programs run through institutions such as UC Irvine have sent students abroad to learn the language. The various presenters had plenty to share regarding the teaching of mandarin across Southern California and the success of the various programs currently available.
In addition to the remarks, the Main Hall featured some other activities, such as a booth for indigenous foods and a section for arts and crafts. Later on in the expo, a section for various Taiwanese restaurants opened up for attendees to explore and enjoy the dishes. Local restaurants like Arcadia’s Cozy Cafe and the chain restaurant Ten Ren Tea were present to hand out food.
Despite a lack of proper tables and chairs, the standing room was enough for attendees to stand, eat, and maybe mingle with others. The entire eating experience was rather intimate and lively, despite the unconventional nature. With such a variety of food, many shades of the Taiwanese dining experience were available for anyone to sample.
Such a variety of experiences made the Mandarin Learning Expo a good indicator of how important it is to share cultures. While the expo emphasized the Mandarin language and Taiwanese culture, people of all kinds were in attendance and all partaking in the events that day.
Attendee Emiliano Miranda, an East Los Angeles native, described his own experiences in the aforementioned programs where participants are sent to Taiwan to learn the language and experience the country.
“It has been one of the most amazing experiences. Life changing! Really life changing. I had the opportunity to go back to Taiwan in 2018. [I] went back again, it was so wonderful.”
Miranda went on to express the need for the global community to come together and support Taiwan and extend friendship towards them. When asked about what perspectives changed after experiencing the country, Miranda had plenty of culture shock to share.
“One day I’m there in my little apartment where I was staying and I heard what we here in America would call the song of an ice cream truck. So I went outside and the whole community was coming outside. It was the garbage man! They were so committed to recycling and being so good about their environmental waste. They would separate it, they would throw it in different bins, and they had a whole system. I was just impressed, because you could tell that the whole community was involved.”
Miranda’s words seem to reflect the entire purpose of the expo; in a closing statement, he made sure to express the desire for the culture of Taiwan to be shared with others in Los Angeles.
“I hope that other cultures can experience the beauty of Taiwan. Oftentimes when there’s some kind of movement and it’s only that culture doing it, it doesn’t have the momentum. But it’s when other cultures start to gather that then Taiwan could really start to snowball in the things that it’s doing…They’re independent and we need to support them in their independence [from China].”