Archive for June, 2009


Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Another fascinating week in Taiwan, in late May.  You might recall last year’s posting describing an invitation from one of my former students, Prof. Chao Tzu Yuan, to be the keynote speaker at an environmental conference at her university in Tainan, in southern Taiwan.  I was obviously very pleased to receive an invitation to do so again this year – but this time the invitation came from her former colleagues at Leader University.

Profs. Yue (left) & Kao w/Roger

Prof. Yue Cheng-Dar and Prof. Kao Shu-Fen, who both teach in the University’s College of Health and Environment, arranged things this year, but — just like last year — the speaking arrangements hardly begin to describe the week they put together for me.  One of the highlights was a group hiking tour in Alishan, the well-known mountainous area in the central part of the island.  Prof. Yue’s sister runs an organic/ecological-type B&B deep in the mountains, & so we had some delicious & healthy organic meals in a gorgeous mountain setting (please check out her website!). After one such dinner, she took us to a remote mountain location – pitch black & miles from anywhere — and after our eyes adjusted, we could see thousands & thousand of fireflies, their luminescent lights blinking on & off in a spectacular nature show!

Alishan Getaway

The hiking & other activities were also a lot of fun; one member of the group was an expert in calligraphy, & so he spent some time teaching us that exquisite art. Unfortunately, the limits of my cultural sensibilities were once again put on display — I perused the instruction manual for a period of time, but then a fellow group member reached over and (without saying a word) graciously turned it over, since I had been reading it upside down.

Prof. Chao at An Ping fort

And of course I also had a chance to catch up on things with Tzu Yuan at National Cheng Kung University, and gave presentations in both the Urban Planning and the Environmental Engineering departments there.  Tzu Yuan is expecting in September, but that certainly hasn’t seemed to slow her down….. she organized and was hosting her department’s 5th International Conference on Planning and Design during my visit, and arranged for me to participate as a session chairman.  I wasn’t able to stay for the conference’s city tour, so she provided a preview – a nice stroll around the city’s historic fort at An Ping, built by the Dutch in the 17th century.  Definitely another great visit…. so thanks very, very much to all my Taiwanese friends & colleagues!