An Outstanding Young Man

I received a letter from Frieder a few days ago. Frieder is a German boy whom we met in Turkey last summer when I accompanied Shyi-Dong to attend a conference there. I was very impressed with his letter which was written in Chinese. Even though Frieder spent only a year studying in a local university in China , he expressed himself very well in Chinese. We were interested to hear that he had started taking lessons to learn Japanese and would visit Tokyo soon. It is really amazing that Frieder is just a college student, but he knows at least four languages: Chinese, Japanese, English and German. In addition, he has traveled a lot and has experienced a variety of cultures since he entered a college. Compared with his life, mine was so different when I was his age. I remember that my parents always warned me how dangerous the world was and how cautious I should be if I was away from home. I was like a flower well protected in a green house; and the storm never could hurt me through my young age.

It is certainly nice and comfortable to grow up in a green house, but I wonder whether I could ever survive any storm without a green house. Frieder is just a college student but he has seen the world and has made many friends through the traveling. His life seems to be full of joys and excitement and he is well prepared for any challenges coming his way.

Recently I read an interesting article, The Tail Wiggles The Dog. It is about the current education system which seems more likely to prepare students to become professors or researchers than dealing with the challenges in the real life. Most students were not ready for the job market when they graduated and they complained that they couldn’t find a decent job or the pay was too low. Their lives were just about to start, but it was as if they were finished when they stepped into the work force. On the contrary, Frieder enjoys his life with great confidence and he seems not to worry about the world economic crisis at all. It seems that each different country gives its young generation a different fate. I wonder why Taiwanese young people can’t have a similar life to Frieder’s?

Bih-Hua Chen
May 16, 2009