1. Description of Our Community
Lanyu Island is a pearl in the Pacific Ocean. The islanders of Lanyu, also known as Yami, live by the traditional farming of planting taro and yam in the field using iron sticks and their own hands. Under the moonlight of summer nights, men sail on big boats to catch flying fish and on small boats to go after schools of dolphin fish (corylphaena hippurus). The culture of Yami is a lot more than the famous “T” style underpants worn by men and the “hair dances” performed by women?it is embodied by the islanders’ respect towards the natural environment, “get what we need and not what we want.” Like other native tribes in Taiwan, Yami are sweet and of good natures. People in the tribes and communities live by the folklore and legends inherited from their ancestors. However, societal changes force Yami to make choices. Nowadays, the children prefer the fast foods from MacDonald and Kentucky Fried Chicken over the tastes of yam and taro meals. The tradition appears to be well kept; but at the same time dramatic changes seem to be underway. “We are eager to understand our own tribes and, most importantly, ourselves,” as the Yami said.
2. Summary of Our Project
The Yamis of Lanyu Island are unique in their philosophy coexisting with natural environments as well as in the rites conducted in the community, which are distinct from other native tribes. The underground dwellings of Yamis have been listed one of the world cultural heritages?this speaks volumes of the significance of its status in the human history of cultural developments! To Yamis, the underground house not only shelters their families from natural disaster, such as Typhoon, but also symbolizes the social status of adult males in the tribe. We wanted to understand the wisdom of Yami ancestors from the building of underground dwellings and the insights on Yamis’ culture through the process of underground construction. We want to appreciate the richness of Yamis’ wisdom by on-site visits and to experience the inner beauty of their culture that cannot be expressed by sound and words by interviews with the tribe’s elderly. We firmly believe: participating is the only way to better understand ourselves and our culture.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:less than 20
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Limited by financial situations, only two of the students participating in this research have computers at home and due to lack of access to the Internet they can only perform data collection and simple tasks such as basic word processing. The computing resources and the Internet connections that students use at school were made available from the necessity expansion project in 1999. Located in a remote area, up-to-date the school still uses FT1+BB512, an alternative program to connect TANET with a downloading speed of 1.5 MB (actual speed: 09 MB). Nonetheless this equipment proves to be sufficient for this study. The difficulty was that the students could access the computer and related resources only when they were at school Thanks to the support of the school principle and teachers, although the usage is somewhat limited, we can have access to the computers and Internet after school hours so that our studies can proceed smoothly.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Underground dwellings are precious heritage of the Yamis, though disappearing at a fast pace in the modern age. If this unique cultural creation ceases to exist, it signals not only the extinction of one of Yamis’ rich cultural heritages but also a great loss of human civilization! We cannot solve the current trends of a changing society and keep the underground dwellings from extinction. However, through this study and the presentation of our observations, we intend to remind people on the beauty and uniqueness of Yami’s underground houses, both in their physical looks and in their cultural implications. We sincerely hope that perhaps Yamis’ underground houses will gain a new life through our attempts to introduce their creativeness. There are several problems encountered during our efforts in data collection:
5. Our Project Sound Bite
What is culture? Sociologists have their own and different definitions. One thing for sure is that culture must bear close ties to people’s life. Therefore, we must accept the concept that culture will evolve over time. Reflected in the Yami culture of underground dwelling, we can not expect the Yami to continue living underground, just as we can not require people to use cattle for transportation, because humans have rights to pursue a better life and higher quality of living. On the other hand, the wisdom and culture of Yami’s underground houses are a treasure common to human civilization. Being the Yamis, we have the responsibilities to record and understand it.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
With the study by the teachers and students this research provides an opportunity to integrate the concept of sustainable environmental conservation into the school’s curriculum, as the Yami upholds an environmentally friendly philosophy in their practices of boat- and house-building when using materials from the nature. For instance, the Yami always plant seeds next to the stubs after they harvest the trees. After all, the modern concept of natural conservation has long been practiced in Yami’s traditional approach. This is the lesson we need to re-discover and re-learn.