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Korean wife crosses barriers, gives tours at Taiwan museum

2012/05/18 20:27:04

Taipei, May 18 (CNA) A Korean woman who moved to Taiwan with her husband 25 years ago has overcome language and cultural barriers and found a passion in working as a volunteer tourguide at the National Palace Museum.

Hye Soon Jana Liu has been giving tours on Chinese and Taiwanese history and cultural or historical relics for Korean visitors since 2006. She described her first few years in Taiwan as "painful," because she neither understood Chinese nor had any friends here.

The 59-year-old Liu met her Taiwanese husband while working as a registered nurse in the United States after graduating from a medical college in South Korea.

She decided to work as a volunteer after she became fluent in Chinese and wanted to help society.

Speaking about how she decided to work at the National Palace Museum, the Korean American told CNA that since she did not have any volunteer experience in the U.S. and South Korea, she had no idea what the application process was like. She read the information about the museum in a newspaper and decided to give it a try.

It took her eight years to actually get the opportunity to interview for the job and receive training. During this period, she made numerous inquiries and sent countless applications, including making phone calls, visiting the museum in person, and sending online applications and hardcopy resumes.

But the real challenge came afterward when the training began, she said. Her Chinese language abilities in speaking, writing, listening and reading were not a problem then, yet the biggest obstacle was understanding literary Chinese and learning the names of the historical relics.

In order to give her Korean compatriots a memorable tour and a deeper understanding about Taiwan, Liu put great effort into combining and comparing Korean history and culture with Taiwanese history which she learned during the training.

Most visitors may only come to Taiwan once in their lifetimes, she said, adding that she always tries her best to schedule out her family gatherings if there are Korean language tours booked.

The Korean wife said she considered her family and the team of volunteers at the museum to be her biggest supporters during the training period.

She said she cherishes every opportunity to meet visitors at the museum, and expressed the wish to try other volunteer work if she has time.

(By Lung Jui-yun and Nell Shen)