A lot people in the U.S. owe an apology to Taiwan

A Sorry State is on the road!

Well, technically, it is north/west on 94 in Milwaukee, where I have been working with a great team at Summerfest with an exciting Taiwanese government organization called TAITRA.

This could be the only time that “exciting” and “government” are in the same sentence, but when you look at things from the Taiwanese point of view, there are a lot of things to get excited about.

Sponsored by the government and industry organizations, TAITRA assists enterprises in Taiwan to expand their global reach.  TAITRA has formed a global network dedicated to promoting world trade for Taiwan, but also looks for ways to help businesses here in the United States gain access to Taiwanese markets.

That last point is important, perhaps more so than ever.

A Two-Way Street

In today’s red state/blue state society, it has become all too common for foreign visitors to either not be welcomed or (in the case of families on the U.S./Mexico border) to be treated as second-class citizens, or worse.  It has become even more common for people not from the United States to be shunned, to be looked at funny or in some cases, berated by people who say they should “go home where they belong.”

Attendees at Summerfest in Milwaukee look at products from the TAIWAN EXCELLENCE Experience Zone, showcasing how products from Taiwan can enter the lives of any of us.

Attendees at Summerfest in Milwaukee look at products from the TAIWAN EXCELLENCE Experience Zone, showcasing how products from Taiwan can enter the lives of any of us.

Here in Wisconsin, Foxconn, the global electronics manufacturer, broke ground on a new plant in the Racine/Mt. Pleasant area.  President 45–who has touted on several occasions it was his doing that Foxconn came here–came to Wisconsin for a groundbreaking ceremony.  Despite the new investment made in the state, many Wisconsin residents are both skeptical about Foxconn and skeptical about the state’s generous offer to lure Foxconn here.  A Marquette University Law School poll of 800 registered voters found 46 percent of respondents believe the multi-billion-dollar state incentives package for Foxconn isn’t worth it…

…but don’t bother telling that to the people from TAITRA.  This team of dedicated professionals has come to Milwaukee promoting a mutually beneficial position that shows that Taiwan wants to welcome Wisconsin companies on to their turf as much as Wisconsin has been welcoming to them at Summerfest.  For that, a lot of Wisconsin residents have been looking themselves in the mirror because they are realizing their perceptions about people who are not “their own” are wrong.

While apologies should be verbalized, acceptance of apologies can be handled in many ways–and the Taiwanese are showcasing more than 50 ways to do it.  The country bestows TAIWAN EXCELLENCE Awards to products that exemplify innovative R&D, quality, design, and marketing.  In Taiwan, these awards are as big a deal as winning a Grammy or Emmy award–it’s on that level–because they serve as examples of the domestic industries within the country and are promoted by the government to shape the creative image for Taiwanese businesses. 

These products are starting positive relationships and discussions about how Taiwan can be a part of the lives, if we find the right/best way to let them in.  In doing so, they are breaking stereotypes about what Taiwan is.  In getting to know the numerous Taiwanese professionals I have worked with over the past few months, they WANT to form these relationships.

Start While You’re Young

One of the ways that my team suggested that we shatter the mold is to connect with Milwaukee’s youngest generations to see how THEY think technology and innovation is entering their lives.  It was gratifying to see and hear how they view Taiwan, and how they think tech will become more a part of their lives.

One of the most gratifying things I did with TAITRA is overseeing two events with The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Discovery World Science & Technology Center to help demonstrate this two-way street that Taiwan wants to form.  Thankfully, they didn’t hear just from me–they met a programmable robot named RoboHero–or as the Discovery World kids named him that day, Bob.   Sure, these kids were beyond curious; their imaginations ran wild.  But that’s the point of being a kid.

So if these kids can let their minds run free about someone who they don’t know, why can’t grown-ups?

As these kids get older, I hope they remember that there is a whole country urging them to be successful and to take that curiosity to places it has never been.

My hope is that country is the one that is not just focused on its own.  For the Taiwanese have proven that they are looking at ways to help us as much as we can help them.








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