Saturday, March 25, 2017
Greetings from a low-level, non-outstanding foreigner!
Many in the foreign community are celebrating new regulations allowing certain "high-level" foreigners to retain their original citizenship when applying for Taiwanese nationality - basically, doing away with the requirement, for them, to give up their original nationality in order to become a Taiwanese citizen. This comes after months of advocating for change, including a period of public comment on the regulations in question.
I guess you could see this as a tiny step forward. Many people do. It's something, that's for sure - but I'm not celebrating.
What this does is allow the government to rest on its laurels, thinking they've 'done something' about the problem of very long-term foreigners, foreigners who are barely 'foreign' anymore, who see Taiwan as their home (in many cases, who were born and raised here). It gives them an out to, honestly, not do anything more for quite some time. In the meantime, the rest of us are left out in the cold. As far as I can tell, this includes Taiwanese with non-Taiwanese parents, that is, anyone who was born and raised in Taiwan and is for all intents and purposes Taiwanese, but are treated as 'foreigners' simply because they have the wrong kind of face.
It also creates more divisions in the expat community where there needn't be any. There are already unfair and unnecessary divisions between laborers, mainly from Southeast Asia, and "professionals", mainly from Western nations. If you think that has nothing to do with racism, you're kidding yourself.
In any case, what differentiates a 'high-level' foreigner from a scrub, in that gray area where people like me reside?
I can't help but take it a little bit personally. Certainly, people might read this and think "she's just mad because she didn't meet the requirements!" but, in fact, I'd be mad even if I did, because the requirements are fundamentally unfair.
Seriously, though, it does make me feel as though my many years of busting my ass to actually be a professional in a field that is not always looked upon as professional means nothing, and that I do not even deserve what every Taiwanese - and some special foreigners - is able to obtain. That ten years of further busting my already busted ass to gain credentials and experience including, but not limited to, pieces of paper, and to be an active force for raising the standard of English language education in Taiwan across the board (I am a part of a group of people trying to bring better teacher training programs to Taiwan, for example) is still insufficient: that I am still trash, as far as Taiwan is concerned, not worthy of consideration, having made no contribution to the country at all.
And, because they passed this fistful of garbage, it is likely to be some time, if ever, before that changes.
Or I could get my PhD (I was thinking about it anyway), take a job at some third-rate university teaching college students in "conversational English" classes of 65+ who don't want to be there, pressured to pass them all anyway, and obtain dual nationality because that is somehow better than what I'm doing now, working with small groups of adults and achieving real results with real-life ramifications, for some fucking reason.
So yeah, needless to say I am not exactly overjoyed that the Taiwanese government decided to tell foreigners that some of you are kind of OK, but the rest of you? Don't let the door hit you on the way out, we don't need or want you enough to give you equal rights (but then complaining that, say, standards of English proficiency in Taiwan are too low). I'm not jumping for joy that a system of divisions and double-and-triple standards is being implemented where no such divisions need to exist. I'm not excited about being labeled a scrub because my pieces of paper are not as good as some other pieces of paper. I'm not happy that the government has decided that my ten years of being devoted to Taiwan and attempting to contribute positively to Taiwan are worthless.
I am also not exactly happy that, up until recently, the government has snubbed people who were actually born and raised here in favor of bestowing a unicorn-like waiver allowing dual nationality to some missionary (as a friend-of-a-friend pointed out, always a white Christian missionary). While I do not deny that missionaries do some good work, the side dish of evangelizing that comes with it is not good for Taiwan. The institutional advantage they enjoy because they have a big religious organization funding their work (which they use to preach their religion, which often comes with preaching the intolerance and bigotry that Christianity is unfortunately known for), which the rest of us can't possibly compete with because we can't afford to work for free, earns little sympathy from me. I await your hate mail for this opinion, but there it is.
In short, I am not dancing in the street over this. It is simply not good enough.
Anyway, enjoy your dual nationality, Some Foreigners.
I'll be over here grumbling in my trash can, where the Taiwanese government apparently thinks I originated and where I belong.