CyberFair Project ID: 4871

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: I-Li-sin ~The Harvest Festival of Jia-Li
Category: 8. Local Music and Art Forms

School: Jia-Li Elementary School
    Hualien, Taiwan, Taiwan

13 students, ages 11-12 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 14, 2007. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2005

Classes and Teachers: Mr. Ting-chiang Chen, Ms. Chia-chu Yeh,Mr. Heng-ming Chen

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

We inhabit in “Hualien”, a paradise located in the eastern area of Taiwan. The Spanish sailed past this crystal clean and picturesque area and called it “Formosa”.

Hualien is known for its breathtaking view and rustic folkway, enjoying the reputation of “Back Mountain Garden”. Our school “Jia-Li Elementary School” is located at Hsincheng Township Jiali Village that is north to Hualien County: a narrow and cozy small village that is home to about 3,000 inhabitants. It is neighboring the Pacific Ocean to the east, adjoining Hualien City to the south, sitting on the North Link Railway and Cross-island Highway that runs from the east to the north. Small in area yet strategic in position, it is the key traffic access in the eastern Taiwan.

About 180 years ago, in the Qing dynasty that was ruling Taiwan, access to the back of the mountain was banned, which prevented Han people from plowing the land of the back of the mountain: Hualien. Not until 1812, cultivation of large scale by Han people came into being, which was more than 100 years behind the west. Due to the policy of sealing the mountain, the start of the infrastructure construction of Hualien was delayed, which however, offered opportunity to let original inhabitants of Hualien area reserve their cultural custom and rich characteristics. During the summer in July, when rape flowers in Huatung Rift Valley were glistening under the sun, Harvest Festival was being initiated in the east tribes of the southern part, extending towards the north up to the Hualien Hsincheng Township at the beginning of the autumn in September. Villagers of Jiali Village held Harvest Festival after reaping what they sowed in the last whole year, on the one hand expressing their gratitude towards the care from their ancestors’ souls, and on the other consoling their brethrens and taking advantage of the festival to maintain their tribal cultural tradition and reach consensus of the whole tribe.

2. Summary of Our Project

Harvest Festival (i-li-sin in Amis) is the celebration for appreciating ancestors' protection held by Amis tribe. It is also for celebrating the harvest and maintaining their tribal cultural tradition and reach consensus of the whole tribe.The majority of villagers in our community, Jiali Village, are Amis and the Harvest Festival is held once per year at the end of the August. The festival almost mobilized every one in the Jiali Village and it is also the grandest occasion of the year in Jiali Village. As students of Jia-Li Elementary School, at early July when the summer vacation starts every year, we along with our parents practice singing and dancing at the playground of Jia-Li Elementary school, in preparation for the i-li-sin thanksgiving festival to be held at the end of August: Harvest Festival. Even so, our understanding of i-li-sin festival is limited and even our parents cannot provide clear explanation. Our Pu-Tong Amis group hopes that through this special topic research and on-site investigation and literature search, we could obtain deeper understanding about i-li-sin Harvest Festival while villagers of Jiali Village better understand the significance and the origin of Jiali Harvest Festival.

Our topics are categorized into 9 groups:

[1. Jiali Features]: exploring the historical development.

[2. Amis]: introducing Amis tribe's coverage and features.

[3. i-li-sin Harvest Festival]: studying the legend of i-li-sin Harvest Festival and historical origin.

[4. Costume]: introducing Amis's costume cultrue.

[5. Dance in the wind]: introducing Amis's dancing features.

[6. Music]: studying Amis's musical features.

[7. Jiali People]: interviewing the successors of Amis culture in Jiali Village and exploring the origin of Harvest Festival in Jiali.

[8. Promotion]: Jia-Li Elementary School's efforts to promote aboriginal culture.

[9. Footprint]: our research records and feelings.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Our school is located at Hualien County. Although geographically located in the remote area in Hualien, our IT hardware can match that of western schools! Currently our school has one computer classroom in which 34 LCD PCs are equipped. Teachers and classmates also reassembled PCs that were originally outdated. Therefore we now have computers for every class and every teacher to use. Senior classes are even equipped with PCs and mono-projectors! Since 2006, our school upgraded internet from ADSL (1M) to optic fiber connection (10M), which further accelerated our connection to the outside.

At the beginning, we did not have full understanding about internet. However, with our IT teachers' efforts and upgrade of our IT infrastructure, we found that making good use of IT resource can make our life more efficient and more diversified! Apart from the upgrade of infrastructure, our school also cooperates with the IT club of Hualien University of Education to hold IT training session during winter and summer vacations. We learned from teachers of Hualien University of Education how to use software such as Swish, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver, and enriched our IT knowledge. It is worth mentioning that our school has been promoting freeware during this term and we learned from teachers about the significance of freeware: its concept and importance of sharing. We cherish every resource and study hard, hoping that one day we can also contribute to the development of the IT field.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

(1)Acquisition of knowledge about Harvest Festival Nowadays, Harvest Festival was held in the exhilarating atmosphere. During our investigation, we found that although Harvest Festival is the occasion every one in Jiali Village must attend every year, not many people really understand the significance of Harvest Festival. We attempted to draw the outline of the past Harvest Festival through the oral description of the tribal leader, teachers and parents. Visiting the Aboriginal Culture Museum, we learned much from Ms. Funork Farah, a narrator working at Civil Affairs Class in Hsincheng Township Office. With that interview and abundant data collection, we have deeper understanding about Harvest Festival .

(2)Computer skills

a.Website construction: At the beginning, we took many photos with digital camera of our school. But we found the size of those photos exceeded the space provide: 30M. With the help from our teachers, we downsized those photos to make the size fit in the capacity allowed.

b.Exchange: To collect everyone’s material and work, we set up a “Harvest Festival Forum” and uploaded the material onto this site so that we all can exchange with each other and we students can also view our materials!

c.Technology application: After interviewing the Chief of Jiali Village for the first time, we found we may lose many key points with the method of taking notes. Therefore during our second interview, we borrowed a digital DV to shoot complete video. But we did not know how to output the information we obtained. With the help from our IT teacher, we converted the information into the format of video so that we can view the information on computers and network.

(3)Hope Agent Development Association Hope Agent Development Association has been providing us with help while our timeline is tight. We would also like to thank volunteer teachers from IT Club of Hualien University of Education for their continuous help. We appreciate their teaching in our IT classes during winter and summer vacations, which improved our IT skills.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

During the process of interview, we found that learning outside classroom is unexpectedly interesting and meaningful. We encounter different stories and learned that every matter has to be verified thoroughly and the best verification is literature search. In this research, we learned how to acquire and categorize information, design the interview questionnaires and even the manner we should bear in mind when conducting interview. What pleases us most is that we had deeper understanding about our own culture. However, apart from the enlightenment of the research contents, the purpose of this study further lies in promoting us to learn the significance of teamwork. Only through every one's efforts in accomplishing his/her own jobs can our group's efficiency be enhanced.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

“I-Li-Sin ~ The Harvest Festival of Jia-Li ” is our subject for this Cyberfair. We mainly study the formation and development of Harvest Festival, the legend transformation of Harvest Festival, costume of Amis, dance and song of Amis etc.; we learn from daily life and combine rural teaching with life in a natural way to exert a subtle influence, which can serve to preserve aboriginal culture. Since Jia-Li Elementary School set up “Aboriginal Dancing Team” in 2002, during the Grade 1-9 Curriculums, performance arts that fall into the categories of arts and humanities became one of the features of our school. Our school promotes “aboriginal textile culture” at the same time, making aboriginal culture the course subject. Apart from folk language teaching and practice of dancing every week, performance arts of aborigines was included in our school’s courses including “arts and humanities”,“Chinese”, “health and sports”, “general activities” etc. for implementation, in order to develop the feature courses of our school. Our school also hired several aboriginal teachers of Jiali Village to teach aboriginal language, song and dance. The purpose is to get tribe culture rooted in the campus and let us get closer to our own culture, and better understand our birthplace.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

Digital camera:Shooting the whole process of interview. Recording pen:Record the process of interview and process the recordings later. Digital video camera:Shoot photos of interview and Harvest Festival activities. Network: 1.Browse related information on website. 2.Query information of library on network. 3.Share feelings at special forum. 4.Discuss with interviewees and teachers and teammates through E-mail and submit report Scanner:Scan related material and photos into digital files and put files on website. Telephone:Contact interviewees and teammates. Computer software:Process photos, films and websites with software such as PhotoImpact, FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Swish, Flash MX, Ulead.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Apart from attending the curriculum arranged by the school, we also walk out of the campus to demonstrate our study results before community residents and social members. We competed in the dancing contest of Hualien County Aborigines with “Jiali Harvest Festival” dance and won the Excellency Award; we also attended the Old People’s Meeting of Hsincheng Township at the Double Ninth Festival, letting villagers of Jiali Village understand our study. Besides, at the sports game jointly held by Jiali Village and Jia-Li Elementary School, we specially showed Amis dance we practiced, and demonstrated our aboriginal textile work at music classroom, so that community residents can learn more about the efforts we made to inherit tribe culture. In addition, ET Yoyo TV station paid a special visit to our school to shoot the practicing process of aboriginal dance for their Children Program. On that occasion, we strenuously showed off our efforts, hoping that our peers nationwide can learn more about the cultural features of the Amis. In the future, after this project is completed, we plan to get our study results compiled into Jia-Li Elementary School Native Studies by our teachers, put the contents onto the website, thus preserving precious materials on the one hand and letting more people understand the history of the Amis and the complete profile of Harvest Festival through internet on the others. Although in no way can we brand the contents of the website impeccable, for learners who would like to learn about the history of the Amis and the complete profile of Harvest Festival, we wish that the research work we presented this time could serve as the stepping-stone by which people outside and our schoolmates can have a deeper understanding about Jia-Li Harvest Festival.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

As saying goes “One Step at a Time”, while participating in the special research plan, we not only had more knowledge about Harvest Festival, but also wished to make our tiny contribution to the inheritance of community culture. Through research plan, we together delved into the history and value of the Amis Harvest Festival , further understanding the difficulty of maintaining a traditional culture. Too many people have misunderstandings about aborigines of different degrees, and they even ignore the very existence of aborigines. Through our contact with outstanding aborigines by following our teachers, we truly learned that there is a group of people who are struggling to preserve and recover the tradition and history they are proud of. Perhaps learning how to tolerate and appreciate the beauty of different cultures is the quest we need to conquer. We are surprised to see that so many fervent people who are making contribution to the maintenance of traditional culture in silence. We also feel the responsibility on our shoulder.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

«Jiali Village Chief ~ Mr. A-mu Lin» Never thought our Chief A-mu who is worker of our school is such an awesome person! He is in charge of the planning of the Harvest Festival of Jiali Village. We see the significance of the procedures of Harvest Festival from his efforts. «Amis Costumes ~ Mrs. Ying-mei Lin» We saw many aboriginal costumes at Mrs. Lin’s home and felt her tenacity. Despite the small margin of producing aboriginal costumes, she is still indulging herself in the business.

«Amis Dance ~ Ms. Mei-chu Chen» Speaking of inheritance, Ms Chen said modestly “I am still learning”. Indeed, various cultures that are disappearing cannot be preserved intact despite strenuous efforts of preserving and promoting; one cannot learn everything about culture of thousands of years’ history even with his entire life.

«Amis Music ~ Ms. Wei-cheng Gao» Ms. Gao is teaching aboriginal music and dance at our school for broadening our knowledge in these aspects. We hope that children at Lia-Li Elementary School can study hard to promote traditional culture.

«Amis Language ~ Ms. Li-hua Chiang» Ms. Chiang herself is Amis descendent. About a decade ago, she came to Jiali Village along with her husband and she is currently working diligently in promoting traditional culture. “For Taiwan aboriginal culture”, said she, “I think we really need to hasten our steps and study carefully”.

«Hsincheng Town Hall Museum ~ Funok?Farah» Wisdom is in fact integrated in the design of aboriginal cultural relic and every ornament has its significance. We learned from teacher that only through respecting the nature can we realize the importance of the life through the nature.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Harvest Festival is the important celebration held annually by villagers of Jiali Village. But after investigation, we found that for younger generation, even parents in Jiali Village, their knowledge about Harvest Festival is limited to hilarious song and dance and exhilarating atmosphere. We learned much knowledge about culture and history that we have never known after investigation, interview and exploration.

During this research, we found that it is easy to devastate a culture. But it is a great challenge to recover and reserve the culture after the damage. Neither Amis tribe nor some young aboriginal students in the village are willing to learn realize their own culture. Without the self-identity of that, they even don’t want to learn their mother tongue earnestly.

On the other hand, through multiple visiting of cultural inheritors, children came to realize that there is a group of people who are contributing in silence to their own culture. Another important achievement of this research is the human quality and compassion on local culture inside them formed during the process. In the future when we attend Harvest Festival activity, we will no longer be the onlookers who are sharing the fun, but rather, a witness of Amis culture, and more precisely, a promoter and preserver of Harvest Festival. This is a precious lesson for teachers and children.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4871)

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