My ‘10,000 miles’/ 我行的萬里路

This article was first published in the Summer 2011 edition of Ming Chuan Magazine. It was translated into Chinese by Eva Lin.

中文翻譯: Eva Lin

Kenton X. Chance

There is a Chinese saying, which, when translated into English, reads something like this: “Travelling ten thousand miles is more informative and educational than reading ten thousand scrolls”. After five years in Taiwan, including four years as a student at Ming Chuan University International College (MCUIC), I vouch for the veracity of that aphorism. During my years at MCU, not only did I gain an education and the concomitant certification, but I have also metamorphosed. My experiences at MCU and Taiwan in general have forced me to reconsider my stance on many things, including my religion and other philosophies and my attitude to humanity as a whole.

中國有句成語: 「讀萬卷書不如行萬里路」。在台灣五年的時間,我驗證了這句話的真實涵義。 在銘傳大學與台灣的經歷,不僅讓我獲取知識,有所蛻變,更促使我反覆思考對許多事情的立場,包括我的宗教、人生觀與對人類的看法。

While many of my beliefs have been further cemented, I have abandoned others altogether. Tolerance, patience, understanding, and coexistence have become my guiding principles. My experiences have reconfirmed to me that notwithstanding the colour of our skin, the shade of our eyes, the texture of our hair or the country in which we happened to be born, we are all fundamentally the same: human beings with similar fears, needs, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. The fundamental difference is that our culture guides or dictates the ways in which we express these feelings or seek their fulfilment. Further, our material circumstances impact heavily on what we might be able to achieve. But, as the Jamaican reggae artiste Morgan Heritage succinctly puts it, “…the colour of our skin [doesn’t] mean a thing if we do good or commit to sin”.

我的信仰進一步被鞏固, 寬容、耐心、理解和共存成為了我的精神指標。 且再次驗證雖然人類會因膚色、眼珠濃淡、頭髮粗細捲直或出生地而有所不同,但我們的本質是相同的:人皆有恐懼、需求、期待、夢想和志向。最主要的不同是文化導引或支配我們如何表達那些感覺或尋求滿足,及現實情況影響我們能否實現。牙買加雷鬼藝人Morgan Heritage犀利地指出 「… 膚色並不重要,最重要的是我們做的是好事或壞事」。

Some of my classmates and I at a graduation ceremony our college especially organised.

Having spent the last four years with a class of about 20 students representing ten countries and four regions, I have learnt first-hand that, separate and apart, we tend to focus on differences but when brought together, we see similarities that bind us in unimaginable ways. One of my best friends over the past four years, Michael Wijaya, is Indonesian and had never seen a person of African descent before he came to Taiwan. I, too, had never met an Indonesian before coming to Taiwan. At first, Michael was astonished by how “big” I was, although I am 182cm tall and he is about 173. However, while Michael is about five years my junior, while he is Buddhist and I am Christian, while we are of different races and ethnicities and each hail from opposite extremes of the globe, we have forged a friendship that is based on respect and tolerance and allows for frankness and honesty. In many ways, we have become like brothers.

班上有20位分別來自10個國家與四大洲的同學, 我直接感受到彼此的差異,但又有許多的相似處。我一位來自印尼的好朋友Michael Wijaya,在他來台灣之前從未見過非裔的人,反之亦然,我在到台灣之前也從未認識印尼血統的人。我們的身高差距9公分,讓Michael很驚訝我的體型怎麼那麼壯。再者,他是佛教徒,而我是基督徒。基於前述,雖然我們有種族、體型與宗教等差異,且來自不同的區域,但我們仍建立尊重、包容、坦率與真誠的友誼,幾乎有如是親兄弟般。

Many would agree that the formal education that they receive at MCU might have been accessed elsewhere. However, the experiences that I have had interacting with students from different races, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, cultures, philosophies, and sexual preference are what have made the world of a difference. These experiences have transformed me from a national of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to a citizen of the world.

許多人應該與我有一樣的看法:在銘傳大學接受正規的教育,在他校亦可獲得。然而,與不同種族、國籍、宗教、文化、哲學與性傾向的學生互動的經驗,讓我開闊了眼界,使我由一個聖文森(SVG)的國民轉變為世界的公民。

The successful completion of my studies was not based solely on my own effort, though I exhorted much in that regard. I am grateful to God for health, strength, and guidance. I thank the government of Taiwan for financing my education and the people for their hospitality. I thank also the government and people of SVG for affording me this opportunity to be an ambassador here in Taiwan.

我圓滿的完成我的學業,不單靠我個人的努力,我更感激主賜與我健康、力量並引導我邁向正確的道路。我感謝臺灣政府提供給我獎學金與好客友善的台灣朋友,亦感謝聖文森(SVG)的政府和人民,讓我有機會在臺灣擔任國家的國民外交代表。

I thank my family for their support, and Symantha Walker, who unselfishly sacrificed much to allow me to pursue my goal. I am grateful for the support of the Vincentian community in Taiwan and the Chair of my programme, Prof. Walter Wang, who, when I needed it most, reminded me that “No one kicks a dead dog”. Here, Prof. Wang, is one starfish for which you made a difference. Former Dean of IC, Dr. Ellen Chen, and my Class Advisor Wu Huie-ling were liberal in reminding me of the tenets of my Christian faith and in applying for the 4+1 Programme. To Dr. Michael Stein, my thesis supervisor, I once again say that you are more than a teacher. You are a mentor. I am grateful to ALL of my professors. You have, in one way or the other, helped to transform me into a better person.

我感謝我的家人與Symantha Walker給我的支持,無私地支持我追尋我的目標。我感謝同為在台灣的聖文森群體的支持,與Walter Wang老師對我的教導:「沒有人會去踢一隻死狗(亦即只要我具有價值,就會有招致批評的可能,而越多的批評,更能顯示我的重要與貢獻) 」。我感謝國際學院前任院長Ellen Chen博士和我的班導師Wu Huie-ling,不斷提醒我基督徒的信念與教義,並支持我申請4+1學程。我感謝我的論文指導教授Michael Stein博士,他是位良師益友。我感激在我求學過程中所有的老師,使用各種不同的方法教導並幫助我蛻變為一個更好的人。

To Kervin Lloyd and Michael Wijaya, I say thank you for your friendship, your honesty, and your respect. That is what true friendship is about. Thank you Curry Lin for reminding me that “Real gold fears not the refiner’s fire.” I appreciate and will never forget my classmates who constantly inspired me to strive for the best. I have met some people at MCU or Taiwan in generally whom I will never forget. These include Nomfundo Dlamini, Mluginsi “Jabu” Dlamini, Ray Yan, Meggy Ho, and Eva Lin.

我還要感謝Kervin Lloyd 和Michael Wijaya,謝謝你們真誠的友誼。感謝Curry Lin提醒我「真金不怕火煉」。還有我的同學,謝謝他們不斷地激勵我追求卓越。另外,在銘傳大學與台灣我不會忘記的人還包括:Nomfundo Dlamini、 Mluginsi “Jabu” Dlamini、Ray Yan、Meggy Ho與 Eva Lin。

They say that life is a journey, not a destination. If this is the case, how does one know where he is going and when he gets there? I guess that, like the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says, “A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” So, as we, the Class of 2011, continue on the next leg of our journey, I share with those who remain the words of Taiwanese diplomat Nicole Su, who, during lunch with two of my country-mates and I three years ago, said: “…I’m glad that you … are here to experience the Taiwanese life. Bitter or sweet, I think the opportunity to experience the difference itself is worthy of trying.” To that, I simply add the words of Robert Louis Stevenson: “To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.”

有人說:「人生是旅程而非終點。」但該如何知道將何去何從及何時可以抵達呢? 因此,今年畢業的同學,我們即將邁向我們人生下一段旅程。如同中國哲學家老子所言,「一個好的旅行者不會僵化過程與只策重結果(亦即一個好的旅行者,總是對未知的未來充滿了期待)」。三年前我與兩位聖文森的朋友,和台灣外交官Nicole Su共進午餐時提到「… 很高興你們能體驗台灣的生活。」不管結果好或壞,有機會去體驗不同的文化是值得的。對此,Robert Louis Stevenson也說過:「滿懷希望地旅行勝過抵達的喜悅」。

Following is a video I especially dedicated to my classmate.

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20 thoughts on “My ‘10,000 miles’/ 我行的萬里路

  1. My dearest Kenton, this very poignant and highly insightful essay is truly representative of the kind of person and student that you are. It is really an honor for me to have known you…

    I also loved the video and valued the fact that you were able to document our Christmas class. It was quite emotional for me to see my former students like you, Kervin, Curry, Michael, Fundo, Tambi, Emily, Raini, Pris, and others in your graduation attire. The symbolism of all these has been a reminder to me that I have now to say goodbye to many, if not most, of you.

    I pray that you continue to excel in your God-given gift of words and in your capacity to attain a depth that is unique and special.
    Hugs, and love, Eva

  2. You make us in SVG proud Kenton! I am truly happy for you. How about another zero to your 10, 000 mile journey, keep going, there might just be ah Ph D somewhere at the end. Why not?.

  3. Dear Kenton,
    this is a touching and inspiring writing. i can see that you’ve got some good qualities: gratefulness, tolerance, generosity, and tenderness, which have made you a better person and will lead you to a bright future, hope you will soon find Hemingway’s “clean, well-lighted place”, where you can work conscientiously and live a meaningful life. Pls Read “Lao Tzu” everyday.
    cheers
    yang, Xiaoding

  4. Dear Kenton:

    Congratulations!!

    It seems I just heard you came to Taiwan to study. How happy and touched I am. You have been the successful case to inspire participants of the TaiwanICDF Workshop to apply for scholarship to study. Maybe I have to pay you the royalty :)

    Well done, congratulations again~

    Sarrinna

  5. Very well written, Kenton. Congratulations on graduating! So will your next 10,000 miles see you returning home, continuing to stay in TW, or traveling to yet another country? If by some chance you are remaining in TW for a bit longer–there’s always a seat on a dragon boat waiting for you! :-) (& hopefully now that you’ve graduated, you’ll have more time to come out to practice! hehehehe…)

    But again, congratulations. If you’re leaving TW soon, please let us know–I’m sure the dragon boat team would love to have a party to see you off. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck & the greatest of success in your future endeavors.

    Take care,

    L

  6. Kenton, this is a great article and is very meaningful to read. I believe we’ve gone through almost the same experiences here and I’m also so glad to have met you. Good Luck in the rest of your life, I know you will make a lot of people happy one day and your parents I’m sure are proud of you. All the best…wherever life takes you and remember to always keep the door open on Taiwan :)

  7. Hi Kenton. although i haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you face to face but i feel like i know you>> I must say congratulation on your Graduation >> u make me so proud to be a Vincentian. thank your for keeping me inform of the the news and events that was going on back home>

  8. Hi Kenton: Your presentation was most impressive. I read it over and over to be satisfied it was the same Kenton I met in 2002, who a year later joined the profession straight from the comunity college – brilliant but lacking in tact. How you have matured and with a greater understanding of life and people and culture.
    Your presentation is testimony of the change, development and maturity possisble when Caribbean people move outside their tiny villages and are exposed to a broader view of the wider world.
    I am delighted of your progress and look forward to working with you and helping you to realise your new vision.
    Thanks for growing up.

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