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Farewell Remarks by David J. Keegan, Deputy Director, American Institute in Taiwan

OT0612E | Date: 2006-07-03

Almost thirty years ago, my wife Sally and I came to Taiwan as graduate students from the Universities of Texas and California.

When we returned here almost three years ago, I was impressed by how many things had changed over the last 30 years in Taiwan -- the buses, the metro, the new prosperity.

As I prepare to leave Taiwan, I am impressed by how much the Taiwan people have remained the same.  They (you) show the same friendliness, the same energy and the same ability to find opportunity in any situation, however challenging.  Equally remarkable is your steadfast determination to always do better.

Perhaps the most striking similarity is the way in which people talk about Taiwan.  Everyone worries about Taiwan, everyone is concerned that the government could be better, the economy could be better, the education system could be improved.  Everyone seems eager to discuss what is wrong and suggest how to make it better.  I almost never hear people boast about Taiwan; often I hear people express concern.  It reminds me of something I learned about Chinese culture many years ago; Chinese parents do not brag about their children.  If someone praises your children, you never say "thank you" as an American would.  It sounds too proud.  Instead, you find a way to say that your child still needs to work harder, still needs to do better, and still has room to improve.

In a sense, I hear people in Taiwan speaking about Taiwan in the same way, and that it is their responsibility to help it work harder, do better, and improve.  Everyone feels that Taiwan is theirs to make better, and that is the ideal of a democratic state.  It is not simply a place in which everyone has rights; it is also a place in which people take the responsibility to improve.  In that there is a great deal to be proud of.

Those are emotions that feel very familiar to American parents and they feel very familiar to American patriots.  We too feel responsible for making our children -- and our country --better.

A few weeks ago, many Taiwan papers had a picture on the front page of President Bush at the graduation ceremony for the U.S. Military Academy at West Pont.  He was shaking the hand of the highest ranking cadet.  An American woman named Jessamyn Jade Liu, the daughter of Taiwan immigrants to the United States.

She is a reminder of many things that we share -- the drive to improve, the hope that we can help our children do better, and the belief that the children who do the best will take responsibility.

Sally and I will leave Taiwan tomorrow, knowing that we have made many friends, and that we share many hopes and emotions with all of you.  We know that Taiwan will continue to change, and we know that what is best about Taiwan - the people - will remain the same.  We will miss all of you; and we wish all the best for you and for Taiwan.