This morning NPR was having a special on the issues facing modern China, and it reminded me of the year I spent as an intern at Park Street Church’s international student outreach. I lived in a house with several international students, including a few from Taiwan. I learned a lot from them, like the fraught relationship between Taiwan and China, differences in communication styles between the east and the west, and never, never to serve only brown rice when it was my turn to cook the house dinner.
But one thing confused me, and that was how often my Taiwanese housemates mentioned their personality type. They were always talking about how they were “type A.” As with many things in cultures I was learning about, I just absorbed the information and didn’t question it. I am a visual learner, and sometimes it takes me a while to understand information that comes through my ears. So it wasn’t until I saw, one day — in a book or a presentation, I can’t remember — the capital city of Taiwan spelled out. Taipei. Pronounced tie-pay. Type A. Ah-ha.