Welcomes across countries and cultures vary, and one way to say welcome in one country might not fly in others. Indeed, how we welcome people is a matter of personal manners, culture, and, quite frankly, how open one is to outsiders. Well, after getting all that out of the way, most of us can agree that Taiwan does an excellent job at the “warm welcome,” unless you were unfortunate enough to have been searched when you landed because you called Taipei “Taipan” and looked “dodgy.” Even then, I’d be fairly confident that the staff dealing with you would be very nice and welcome you after finding no drugs upon or in your person.
No, Taiwan does the warm welcome quite well (and probably a warm gloved finger if it came down to it as well).
A little too well. I’ve been here for five years, and I’m still being told “welcome to Taiwan!” and whenever someone says it, I think of the recently defunct “Wellcome” franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be told welcome than being told to go back home, and I’m thankful. But just like my interest in reading those 50+ books I bought from Amazon and Whose Books, I’ve slowly lost interest over time in replying. I’ve instead turned to welcoming people that welcome me. It adds a little bit of confusing fun and gets the icebreaker over, and we all move on with a fun experience.
The Warm Welcome and International Tourism
I do not doubt that anyone visiting Taiwan will return home and tell everyone how welcoming and nice Taiwanese people are. My da still talks about how much he enjoyed Taipei, and it’s always a reason that crops up on those Q&A rounds about why people came back to Taiwan. Taiwanese do the warm initial welcome very well, for tourists and short-term visitors.
When the Welcome Becomes Tedious, But NEVER Unwelcome
It just becomes a bit tedious for those of us that are residents, however. It’s not a complaint, though. Whenever someone welcomes me, I know I’ll probably be welcomed again soon, and most certainly in the 20 years, I’m going to be welcomed a hell of a lot more. I know people who have been welcomed here for over 30+ years, and their responses are to humor, not antagonize. I agree with that. I might joke about the welcome and 20 questions game, but it’s important to humor people.
Sure, playing the 20 questions game every time you take a taxi or meet someone new is a bit much. Still, it’s a better conversation to be having with curious people. Many peoples’ notions of foreign nationals extend to tabloid journalism smearing us, and the foreigners they see on panel shows that discuss something profound like their place in Taiwanese society or something super cringe like how cute foreign babies are.
Make a Joke Out of it And Own It
Whenever someone tells me my Mandarin is very good, I tell them so is theirs. They laugh and say, “Of course!當然!” When it comes to being welcomed a lot, just Taiwan also welcomes you to anyone welcoming you. It’s funny, unexpected, and not rude. Again, it might be tedious, but it’s better than being called racist stuff and enduring the absolute hell of what Asians being in Europe and America are going through with #stopasianhate showcasing how entrenched anti-Asian sentiment is.
So, put it in context, own it, enjoy it, and one day it’ll be normalized, and nobody will say welcome or that your Mandarin is good. Some of you might miss that, and I probably won’t