Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

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Have you served in the Taiwan military as a conscript? If YES, how was your experience?

YES, I loved every second of it! Way better than I had imagined.
3
13%
YES, I enjoyed it. It was better than I had imagined.
1
4%
YES, I liked it. It wasn't too bad. Nothing that I particularly enjoyed.
2
8%
YES, I managed to survive.
1
4%
YES, It was the worst experience in my life! A total waste of time!
1
4%
NO
16
67%
 
Total votes : 24

Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby fub17 » 18 Nov 2008, 00:48

I am a Taiwan citizen currently studying for a Master’s degree in the United States. The only passport I hold is from Taiwan. My Mandarin ability is very bad. I cannot read or write. I lived in Canada and the United States for many years and have always used English to communicate. What does the military do to somebody like me, who does not know Mandarin but is still required to serve in the military? I am due to serve in the military in the summer of 2010. Does the military require a high level of Mandarin ability? Due to my language barrier am I qualified for the alternate service? I hope I can serve in a foreign language department where English is used more than Mandarin. Am I required to read or write anything in Mandarin while I am in the military? I am very worried about this situation. I want to serve in the military but because of my language barrier I am afraid that I will have a very difficult time in the military. How long is the initial boot camp training? How long is the overall military duty at the moment and also in 2010?


More detail about my background:

I was born in Hong Kong and was raised in Shanghai, China where my parents work. I studied in an American International school in Shanghai from kindergarten until I was 13. Then I moved to Vancouver, Canada for 5 years to complete my GED. Then I graduated from undergrad in Rochester, NY. Now I am pursuing an MBA degree in New York State. I apologize for misleading you guys about my Mandarin ability. Although I cannot read or write I can still understand and speak a little bit of Mandarin since this is how I communicate with my parents who do not know English at all (my Mandarin is at a beginners level at best, when I speak I speak broken Mandarin which sometimes doesn't make sense because I cannot communicate in depth with complex words). In essence, my first language is English. I said I was born in Hong Kong but do not have a Hong Kong passport since my parents have always wanted me to be a Taiwan citizen and serve in the army. I have already inquired about my language problem with the Taiwan military division and was told that I am not eligible for the alternative service because I do not have any physical problems. I have also asked the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in New York City and was given the same reply. I have never lived in Taiwan for an extended period of time nor have I taken any Mandarin classes. I can understand some Taiwanese but do not know how to speak it. I learned Taiwanese by listening to my parents.
After I complete my MBA degree I will have to return to Taiwan because my passport expires in 2010 and I do not have any other nationality. Do any of you know a friend who has the same problem as me but still have to or had served in the military? Thank you and I hope this post gives you a clearer idea of my situation.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby lincolnunit » 20 Nov 2008, 01:31

Wow, you seem like a very well educated individual.
You should try going for a green card in the US and then go for citizenship.
But since 9/11 it has been quite difficult to obtain one in a reasonable amount of time (5 years).
But if there is no way to dodge it, I'm sure they will put you behind a desk for a year at the most.
I am in a similar boat as you and I imagine they will put you to work with the US military (not directly of course). Probably mostly english paper work
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby the bear » 20 Nov 2008, 14:22

I wouldn't worry....just report for duty. it'll be mickey mouse anyway. then write a book about it. remember to take lots of pictures. look upon it as 18 months intensive Taiwanese language training.
I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby p1aymakr » 20 Nov 2008, 14:28

It will be only 12 months instead of 18. fub17 I might be in the same boat as you. Message me and we can talk more about this.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby fub17 » 21 Nov 2008, 05:25

Hi playmakr,

I read your reply to my post on formusa.com regarding my military duty and language problem. First off, thank you very much for taking your time to post a comment on the forum. Any little information I can get is appreciated.

You said you are in the same situation as me? How so? If you wouldn't mind please let me know a little bit about your situation & background as well. Thanks.

JC
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby hi12345 » 21 Nov 2008, 08:11

gain some weight so you'll qualify for the Alternative Service. I'm serious, it's much, much better than the regular thing. Plus you will get to choose where you want to serve because you have a masters. However, you'll probably have to wait around 6 months to get in. If you want to wait less, join the regular army.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby Elegua » 21 Nov 2008, 08:54

This works for many of the TAS patriots.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby bismarck » 15 Jan 2009, 01:08

OP - I feel for you, I really do, but your situation isn't all that unique. I have a friend that was raised in South Africa and returned to Taiwan after school. He could speak conversational Mandarin, but little to no Taiwanese. He came back because his father was ill and still lives here. He said that, if anything, his time in the military vastly improved his communication skills in both Taiwanese and Mandarin, and for that reason alone he was glad he did it.

He was posted to a position where he had to do translation work (Chinese to English) and told his superior that he couldn't read characters. His superior said he had to learn. He spent his time doing just that.
Now, he is can speak, read and write like anyone else. His elder brother opted to keep leaving every four months and a wide range of other methods to avoid the draft. Today he still can't speak very well and reads and writes less than most foreigners.

If you really need to come back, my advice is to approach it as one should approach life in general. See it as an opportunity to learn something. Try to get something out of it and you probably will. But don't spend all your time worrying about something that will probably take care of itself in time.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby kungwan2000 » 24 Apr 2009, 22:41

Hi fub17

Like you, being raised in an English environment, my Mandarin was very poor. It improved gradually during my years in TW as a student and I was able to read and write basic chinese.

In 1997, I served the 28 day 成功嶺 boot camp for undergraduates in TW (before it was abolished). My grasp of Mandarin was equal to a grade 2 elementary school student. The language barrier was not that relevant to me then because I found my fellow conscripts quite willing to help me, providing that I pulled my weight for the squad.

I served and was discharged from the armed forces in 馬祖 (Mazu) 2 years ago. At boot camp, again, the experience was not too bad since my fellow conscripts were quite helpful. Once sent over to my unit after boot camp, life was pretty hard since my company had a reputation for hazing. I spent 2 weeks in hell and was then transferred when it was discovered that I wrote only in English in my 莒光作文簿 (a diary that is weekly written). The battalion decided it was best that I did not handle weapons for safety concerns and re-assigned me to messenger and mail-room clerk duties at battalion command centre.

In both stints, I found that a language barrier was the least of my problems. To my surprise, I met some people born and bred in TW that were functionally illiterate. As long as you are easy-going and friendly, you will find people willing to help you out. What is most important is that you pull your own weight and not take any offence to you as personal.

By the time I was discharged, my Mandarin improved considerably and the number of friends I made from other walks of life grew. I became more culturally assimilated into Taiwanese culture and began to understand better how bureaucracy in TW works. Fulfilling my national duty also removed the hassles of jumping through loopholes to keep my Taiwan/ROC identity. I was given a passport that was valid for 10 years and as a full citizen I have no trouble with immigration clerks when I travel in and out of TW. It was also reassuring to my wife's parents that I served my time which also elevated their esteem of me.

On the whole, the experience for me was more beneficial than negative. Mandatory military service was just a hurdle I had to jump to get on with my life.
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Re: Taiwan military duty question (language problem)

Postby bismarck » 26 Apr 2009, 19:09

kungwan2000 wrote:Hi fub17

Like you, being raised in an English environment, my Mandarin was not very poor. It improved gradually during my years in TW as a student and I was able to read and write basic Chinese.

In 1997, I served the 28 day 成功嶺 boot camp for undergraduates in TW (before it was abolished). My grasp of Mandarin was equal to a grade 2 elementary school student. The language barrier was not that relevant to me then because I found my fellow conscripts quite willing to help me, providing that I pulled my weight for the squad.

I served and was discharged from the armed forces in 馬祖 (Mazu) 2 years ago. At boot camp, again, the experience was not too bad since my fellow conscripts were quite helpful. Once sent over to my unit after boot camp, life was pretty hard since my company had a reputation for hazing. I spent 2 weeks in hell and was then transferred when it was discovered that I wrote only in English in my 莒光作文簿 (a diary that is weekly written). The battalion decided it was best that I did not handle weapons for safety concerns and re-assigned me to messenger and mail-room clerk duties at battalion command centre.

In both stints, I found that a language barrier was the least of my problems. To my surprise, I met some people born and bred in TW that were functionally illiterate. As long as you are easy-going and friendly, you will find people willing to help you out. What is most important is that you pull your own weight and not take any offence to you as personal.

By the time I was discharged, my Mandarin improved considerably and the number of friends I made from other walks of life grew. I became more culturally assimilated into Taiwanese culture and began to understand better how bureaucracy in TW works. Fulfilling my national duty also removed the hassles of jumping through loopholes to keep my Taiwan/ROC identity. I was given a passport that was valid for 10 years and as a full citizen I have no trouble with immigration clerks when I travel in and out of TW. It was also reassuring to my wife's parents that I served my time which also elevated their esteem of me.

On the whole, the experience for me was more beneficial than negative. Mandatory military service was just a hurdle I had to jump to get on with my life.

Good on you, mate. Good post! :bravo:
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Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
Sir Winston Churchill

Second of all, as in all honeymoons, all is well until it is not. It is until the unexpected happens that you will see all grievances surface -ask anyone in any relationship. The girl can chew with her mouth open, that if you love her, you do not care. If you do not lover her, if her pinkie toe is half an inch deviant, the relationship is doomed. - Icon
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