What Fieldwork Teaches Me: A Gender Critique of a Taiwan/Vietnam Cross-National and Cross-Cultural Educational Project
Shu-Ching Lee (Department of Education and Graduate Institute of Early Childhood Education, National Chengchi University)
As Taiwan’s “New South-bound policy” has recently come into full swing, with the goal of cultivating Southeast Asian relationships, schools and organizations’ cross-cultural educational projects have been increasing rapidly. However, we might ask what gender issues are concealed behind a project, and what impact these might have on its implementation? What would happen if the project itself lacks intercultural sensitivities? Starting from the nature of fieldwork-inherently chaotic and vague-my training in gender as well as in multiculturalism has allowed me to gradually diagnose the dilemmas of a cross-cultural education project offered by a Taiwanese non-profit organization in Vietnam, one that provides Chinese language instruction to the children of Vietnamese women migrants to Taiwan. At the same time, the process of analysis also reveals conversations with the Western-centered gender framework. This is what this fieldwork teaches me. My research finds that the educational project seemingly looks gender-neutral; however, ‘gender’ plays a significant role in planning as well as in implementation. Particularly in the society of Vietnam where relations are central, the issue cannot be seen as just the individual woman. Women are socially located according to their gender, and, further, the intersectionality of gender, class, and ethnicity becomes essential if we intend to upgrade a project to the level of ‘conscientization’ and ‘participation’. Otherwise, the traditionally powerful gender relations in the family may undermine the project objectives. Apart from insights and reminders for doing cross-cultural fieldwork, this article finally provides suggestions for future cross-cultural educational design and implementation.
cross-cultural, educational project, gender, intersectionality, Vietnam