Tsung-jen Wu is the Vice-Chair of East Asia of the Asian Working Group (Taiwan) of Young Humanists International. He is important in the provision of a perspective from East Asia and humanism.
In particular, the youth culture of humanism there, in which Taiwan may become an important vanguard – in some ways maintains this status now, e.g., the first Asian region nation-state to legalize same-sex unions.
Here we talk about his life and views.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How was personal background? What’s your story in early life? How would you tell your early life story in terms of your interaction with education, with family, with faith, in Taiwan?
Tsung-jen Wu: I’m from Taiwan. I’m going to be a graduate student from my university. My major is economics. The university I study at is a good university, which tops the list of the social sciences and business schools in Taiwan.
Before I studied at my university, I had a low grade in academic work. I didn’t perform well in the past. At that time, I was not treated equally because of the environment in Taiwan. They view those who have higher grades as a better person, a better guy. They are believed to be the best people who can earn much money and they will earn the prestige from the society. However, this is not the case for a lower school, which has students with bad grades.
But this, I cannot imagine why people will say so. It is unreasonable. This is what happened when I studied at junior and senior high school. Towards the end of senior high school, I gradually got good grades on tests. Finally, I passed the tests and the examinations, so that I could get into the university I’m studying at.
I experienced two different faces, the good grades and the bad grades. I experienced totally different life experiences. I can clearly feel that this is totally not fair. Education should not act like this. Education should be the light or the fire to inspire, to light up anyone’s idea and make them much more courageous to explore much more deeply about something unknown – the unknown and the knowledge.
To reach this goal, they have to respect individuals. They have to respect what they feel and what they are thinking about, what the student is thinking about. The concept of humanism comes into my mind. This is what happened in Taiwan. Educators and researchers in education fields promote humanistic education in our classes, and in our school, and in so many fields. This is the point why I focus on humanism. It was beginning at the field of education.
Jacobsen: How prominent, for those who don’t know, is humanism in Taiwan? How does humanism, in and of itself, reflect what some would see many Asian region values? Of course, it will differ and vary in many ways. Although, there will be trends.
Wu: How much is there? It is far from enough, but, fortunately, we’re starting to focus on humanism. You can see so many campaigns. They have their political ideas. They want to make the biggest community much more equal, no matter whether it is an LGBT group, or a low school that has bad grades, to encourage them to do something different. If they have different skills, like they are good at assembling something and can make all the gadgets into one machine, they should be encouraged to do so.
If you are one of the members of the LGBT groups, you can own some respect. It is gradual progress, but, in general, it is not common to see humanism. It is still not a time for humanism, the concept of humanism. The seed of humanism blossoms. It is not the time, but it is gradually happening.
Jacobsen: How about yourself? How did you become involved in humanism? How has the trajectory of humanism taken place in Taiwan? How has it developed? I would say in culture and in young culture, youth culture.
Wu: Youth culture. The first time I was involved in humanism. At that time, I didn’t know if there is a humanist organization or not. I knew nothing about that. I participated in so many activities, like student consulting. The work I do is to share my experience in the university to the senior high school students to let them know what happens in university, and why you should prepare for your future, and what subjects you are going to learn.
I share the experience and ideas with senior high school students, for them. I try hard to break down the barriers in their minds. They are told to be a good person. However, I encourage them to be the person who is courageous, to be themselves. Something like this: share experience, share ideas. I try hard to inspire them.
Not only inspiring them, but I try to start up related courses, like user experience courses with my friends who are partners in business. We open start-up classes. We invite all the people around our society who are interested to take part in our classes and share ideas about what is the business of the humanist orientation and the concept. We share some skills with them. We share some tools to make them do much better.
In the past, in the economy, Taiwan was a manufacturer, a producer of so many things, but Taiwan is not the creator. They are not innovators. Taiwan has to change. They have to turn themselves from a producer into a creator. A creator cares for science, cares for the truth, for the people, what people think about, and care for so many human-based things.
In education and in the field of business, I do these things to improve them, to help them to change the ideas, to improve the design in the business field. We encourage the producers, the firms to make a good design, and based on human habits, which may make the customer more satisfied with your design and your product. It can leave a good impression in their mind, so that everything gets improved. We are not a manufacturer. We care for how to create something that is high quality. This is what I do.
After that, I got acquainted with Kevin, who started up the young humanism group in Taiwan. I was curious about why he did this and what he did. It is interesting. After along chat, I decided to spend part of my time with him and to develop a deeper relationship, foster a good relationship with each other.
I share some human-based experiences in marketing and branding with the Taiwan Humanism Association. We cooperate with each other and help them to create some projects. I share ideas about how to make good marketing based on humans’ requirements. This is the trajectory of my experience in humanism from education, economics, and humanist organizations.
Jacobsen: That’s exciting. What would you hope for young humanists in the Asian region, in general, for the rest of 2019 and into 2020?
Wu: In Taiwan, in our organization, we hope to prosper. We want grow up and make other people know about humanism, what humanism is and what is the related concepts about humanism. For example, science, we are living in a world based on science and human orientation. It is important to make them know what is the core idea of the system. This is the first thing we are going to do.
We start to host some activities, fun activities, to attract people everywhere, from north to south, to participate in our activities. We want to try to let them know the trajectory, the development of Amsterdam Declaration’s ideas from Europe to Asia and to know the history of this past.
In general, in Asian associations, we hope to connect with each other more deeply because I hear from Feng. Asia is a big family. However, we cannot foster a meaningful relationship as European countries did.
Why? Because we have a totally different culture. We have a different history and past. We have totally different religious beliefs. We have totally different languages. Even though a Singaporean looks similar to us, we can’t understand what each other thinks about because we are living in a totally different environment.
To make a good integration is the first and also the most important thing to do. How do we do it? In my opinion, I hope we can start up our staff exchange project. For example, we can assign a country, which is going to hold an activity, to make feedback to the local development. For example, the Philippines can do this. They can do something meaningful for their local development, like health, education or public hygiene, and so on.
Other delegates and different associations in Asia can take part in their projects to make a deep understanding about what happened in their country. Other representatives can get acquainted and know more about each other during the process of making a service to the Philippines. This is the first idea. First the Philippines and Singapore, and maybe India, then Taiwan, can do this, can play this role. We can take turns every year.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Tsung-jen.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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