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{Though our stories are often written, our platform welcomes stories told in other ways. We invite submissions of Spoken Word poetry or performance art, dance or music, and visual art as well. We only ask that if it's not a literary submission, that you offer some written contextualization of the piece.

"TAS students are living in a bubble" by Audrey Hwang

     Attending Taipei American School (TAS) is a privilege, and that privilege is generally only available to families of wealthy backgrounds. Unfortunately, this often keeps TAS students closed off in a bubble, one without much diversity. While I am no exception to this rule and am also guilty of using this bubble as my safety net,  I have recently found that growing out of the bubble is possible. 

     Through a life full of constant competition with peers for academic achievements and the need to please family members with academics, many TAS students claim that they are too busy with school to leave the bubble, diversify our own bubble, or otherwise attempt to relate to situations of poverty, starvation, or war. 

     This bubble prevents our school community from becoming globally-minded. If we are only aware of one particular lifestyle, then we become ignorant as we show a lack of empathy for other people. The bubble creates a bland student population where students are sheltered from life outside of high school as they rely on each other for safety and reassurance. 

But getting out of the bubble does not mean you have to end all poverty. Nor does it mean simply traveling outside of the bubble or reading the news (although they will, undoubtedly, help). One can flee as far as they want physically, but the narcissism inherent in our bubble does not change unless the person decides to. 

     Since our school does not provide financial aid, most TAS students are able to attend TAS because their parents’ incomes can afford the costly tuition of this private school. Because of our parents’ incomes or financial backgrounds, many of us are used to a life of luxury and privilege that many other people in this world do not have. We go to school with many students with similar financial backgrounds, some wealthier than others. This creates a community stigma of taking wealth and privilege for granted which undermines our community’s level of gratitude. 

     It is hard for people to be grateful for what they have when they have always lived a life with those things. People develop a sense of appreciation for things when they do not have them anymore. It is not ideal to take away all the luxury and privilege from our TAS students just so they can show gratitude. However, we can put ourselves in positions where we constantly think about the things we are so fortunate to have, that others do not. 

     Another thing that will help our community gain appreciation for things we supposedly take for granted is connecting with people outside of the TAS community. Many students at TAS participate in the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools (IASAS) where they get to travel to different countries in Southeast Asia for numerous extracurricular activities. From this, students should get to know students from other schools that have different personal and financial backgrounds. Some of the IASAS schools do provide financial aid to the students, thus creating a more financially diverse student population. TAS students can come to the realization that not everyone is exposed to the opulent wealth of many students at TAS. 

     Connecting with people beyond the TAS community also consists of being friends with kids from summer abroad programs, or even kids in the local Taiwanese community. Putting oneself in a situation where they are forced to interact with people of different backgrounds will help gradually develop a sense of appreciation and gratitude for the things we have. 

     As a school, we must question whether our community is promoting an environment of open learning or a closed-off bubble of students too caught up in their own lives to even realize that they are living in a bubble. If TAS declares itself as a top private school with a mission statement to produce students with a “global perspective”, then the bubble surrounding the TAS students needs to be popped for the students to get a gage of the outside world. 

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