As of December 2003, 247,966 Taiwanese had married foreigners, most of these were men marrying women from Mainland China (over 50%), Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. Most of these women are less educated and younger than the average Taiwanese bride. More importantly, many of these women don’t speak Chinese. In fact, many are not even literate in their mother tongue. As a result, there has been a major push by activists and social workers to create literacy programs to teach these foreign brides (外籍新娘) Chinese literacy. All this is an extended introduction to a beautiful song recorded by one of my favorite Taiwanese bands: Labor Exchange Band (交工樂隊). It is a song written by students in one of these literacy programs, to an old Vietnamese song melody.
Listen here. (It might take a while to load.)
Here are the lyrics:
After a long period a strange place becomes home
(The Song for the Foreign Brides’ Literacy Class)
The sky’s so magnificent;
the earth’s so magnificent.
The endless Pacific Ocean
Thinking of this; thinking of that
Where does the road come out at?
The sky’s so vast; the earth’s so vast.
With no relatives, I rely upon my husband.
The moon’s so bright; my heart’s so agitated.
My home’s so far away
Friends’ class, reading class:
Coming out from the corner kills loneliness.
Reading class, sisters’ class:
Reading class connects friends.
Sisters’ class, cooperative class:
We have mutual trust, mutual love, and mutual help in difficulties.
Cooperative class, connections to everywhere:
After a long period a strange place becomes home.
(It sounds better in Chinese…)
Read the (Chinese) lyrics here.
You can learn more about their new album here (and listen to the songs in Real Audio).
(Non ‘Coral’ link to MP3 here.)
UPDATE: Labor Exchange Band has a Wikipedia entry!