Many people probably wonder whether they can truly learn about Chinese culture while studying Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan. The answer, confusingly enough, has to be both yes and no. ICLP will definitely say "of course you can learn about Chinese culture and society here!" But I have strong reasons to believe the ICLP program is firmly seated in the Blue camp. The typical Blue supporter believes he/she is Chinese and dismisses the idea of a Taiwanese identity. The typical Blue supporter, when thinking of what is Chinese culture, thinks of Qing-era Chinese culture which the Chinese brought with them en masse when they fled to Taiwan in the 1940s. Chinese culture in Taiwan, overall, is much more rich and vigorous than Chinese culture in China, but bottom line...it is not PRC Chinese culture. So the answer is yes and no.
During the first week of class, two of my three instructors, made it pretty clear which camp they were in, and the lack of neutrality made me feel quite uncomfortable actually. I began to feel the same way at ICLP as I did in China. It was an eerie feeling having to self-censor myself all over again...quite scary, actually. One of ICLP's major textbooks, because it originated in the 1960s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) era, reeked of KMT propaganda...excessive history of China, national Chinese identity...pushing the idea that China was theirs, even though it was they who fled as refugees to Taiwan after losing to the Communists in 1949. ICLP was not inclined to updating this textbook.
The majority of teachers in ICLP are Blue. When I thought about why, it made sense. Education, the way to control minds and disseminate propaganda, has historically been under KMT control. Because Chinese language had to be imposed on Taiwanese people, who was likely to teach Chinese language but the most hardcore of the Chinese? It drove me nuts to hear my instructor say "We Chinese" this and "We Chinese" that. I just wanted to scream, "Teacher, with all respect, you think you are Chinese, but you've never been to China. I've been to China and you are definitely NOT Chinese. You've been taught all your life to believe you are Chinese, but you were born on Taiwanese soil and have lived in Taiwan all your life. Yet you deny you are Taiwanese. Why, teacher? Why do you continue this delusion?!?!?!"
I highly recommend students studying Chinese language in Taiwan to take the opportunity to learn a little about Taiwanese history, people, and culture, too. Taipei is considered to be the Chinatown of Taiwan (the Chinese who fled to Taiwan mostly congregated in Taipei) so to learn a little something about Taiwan, one need only leave the city limits.