CyberFair Project ID: 1914

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Should Taipei rebuild the Old City Wall? Yes or No?
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

    Lujou City, Taipei County, Taiwan, Taipei

5 students, ages from 13 to 14 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 30, 2002. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2002

Classes and Teachers: Joy Yen; Weimin Pai; Linlin Chang

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

The school where members of the Magic Corps study is located in Lujou City, Taipei County, just across the Tamsui River from Taipei City. This natural river course is the principal basis for delineating the division between the two cities, but it does not necessarily equal a boundary line between two communities. For example, when Typhoon Nari struck northern Taiwan, Luchou City experienced massive flooding, just as Taipei City did. In addition, our research has revealed that some of the stone materials used for the Old City Wall of Taipei that was built at the end of the Qing dynasty came from Taipei County! Our group's school, located in Lujou, crosses boundaries to engage in research on the old city of Taipei, in the hope of being able to spur everyone to think afresh, to expand the scope of local communities beyond the limits of administrative zones, and allow Taipei City and the counties and cities surrounding it to cooperate together, share resources, and create the greatest benefit for all the people of the greater Taipei metropolitan area.

2. Summary of Our Project

In the first year of the Guangxu reign during the Qing Dynasty (1875), Shen Pao-chen recommended to the Qing court that it establish Taipei City as a seat of government, because of the importance of its economic and strategic position, and build a city wall around Taipei, to ensure the security of northern Taiwan and protect against the acquisitive intrusion of Western imperialism. Through the cooperation of Taiwanese officials and local civilians, the Taipei City wall was completed in 1884. But its days were short-lived. After Taiwan was ceded to Japan, the Japanese, fearing nothing more than that these Chinese-style walls, gates and towers would easily stir up sentiments toward China in the hearts of the Taiwanese, gradually dismantled the structures of the wall. The Old Taipei Wall only existed in a complete state for a mere 15 years. Its rise and fall are a reflection in miniature of the recent history of Taiwan, and it is worthwhile for everyone to make the effort to understand and reflect upon it. In addition, our special research plan has the further aim of exploring the definition of an historic site, as well as the value, meaning and methodology of preserving historic sites. We also plan to undertake a public opinion survey by telephone, to gain an understanding of the degree to which Taipei City residents are concerned about the old city walls, to serve as a reference for future preservation efforts of historic sites by the Taipei City government.

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:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

1)Collection of Source Material Our collection of material consisted of primary and secondary materials. We were able to find a great deal of valuable information about the Old Taipei City at the Taipei Archives Commission, which was a considerable help. However, in the collection of primary source materials, such as arranging interviews and telephone surveys, our lack of experience presented significant challenges. In addition, we conceived and held the Internet’s first on-line debate, allowing team members to apply the knowledge they learned about historical site preservation in a debate on the topic “Should the Old Taipei City Wall be Reconstructed on the Original Site?” Finally, based on the results of our research, we put together a five-part proposal about how to preserve the Old Taipei City Wall to Taipei City Government.

2)Web Site Production As none of our team members had any previous experience in creating Web pages, we arranged for three members to learn such software programs as Photo Impact and Front Page. However, while we discovered that the software was easy to learn and apply, compiling an electronic book is quite difficult. With our instructor’s admonishment to “avoid fancy designs; content is paramount,” and use “clear function buttons” in mind, after nearly three weeks designing the basic format of our Web site we succeeded in completing our site.

3)Team Spirit The first hurdle we encountered was the lack of cohesion of our group at first. With our teacher’s guidance we selected our team officers, arranging our schedule and assigning tasks in a total of 15 meetings. Alternating meeting chairpersons and recording secretaries, we learned how to cooperate and actively support one another, establishing an excellent team rapport. We also took a vote to decide a motto by which we would attempt to abide, agreeing on “Implementation from Start to Finish, Willingness to Assist Others, Proactive Attitude.”

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Chinese Culture University Professor, Li Qian-Lang, calls historical landmarks “three-dimensional books” that record the scholarship of the past… they bear witness to history and our past, telling us how we got to where we are today. We cannot allow the past to be destroyed; we must link the past, present and future together in a continuum.

Mr. Xie Ying-Cong of the Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs said historical landmarks represent the cultural traces of history and serve history’s memory. Knowing history can give us an appreciation for a place and foster love and feelings for it.

The Magic Corps believes that the value of historical landmark preservation is debatable, related policies and approaches can be adjusted and bettered, and that education on the promotion of historical landmark preservation is essential.

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

We feel that the CyberFair research activities complement our school curriculum for the following reasons:

1)The major difference between the reports we normally write for school and this research project is that this project required us to thoroughly consider its objectives and conclusions. This was both a test and revelation for us, as we were pleased to discover that research can bear fruits, and that these fruits can be used for the benefit of society. 2)Such a large project cannot possibly be completed alone. Over the course of the project we learned that the keys to success are team spirit and accountability, and during the final stage of completion we learned that commitment from start to finish is indeed difficult to achieve. 3)In the future we plan to bring together the individual strengths of each member of our class to produce a class Web page. For instance, a classmate that tutors others in English could oversee a virtual English classroom. Of course, we could also teach people how to play basketball over the Internet!

Project Elements

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

We employed tools including telephones, radios, video cameras, digital still cameras, scanners, tape recorders, computer software, library resources, books, newspapers, oral interviews, and audio/video encoding programs. Our report includes audio/video files, converted with the assistance of our faculty adviser. I found the video camera and audio-video encoding program the most helpful as these tools enabled computer users to see us over the Internet and people with visual disabilities to hear us.

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

1)In the capacity of ambassadors for the preservation of historical landmarks we interviewed Mr. Xie Ying-cong of the Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs and Professor Li Qian-Lang of Chinese Culture University. We then placed the entire contents of the interviews on our Web site to give people a deeper appreciation of the significance of historical landmark preservation and the Taipei city government’s policies regarding the protection of historical sites. 2)The Magic Corps also conducted a telephone survey on the level of concern among Taipei residents regarding the Taipei city government’s approach to the preservation of the Old Taipei City Wall. Based on our findings, we prepared a letter with our recommendations to the city government in the hope that it steps up efforts at educating the public regarding historical landmark preservation. This effectively made us spokespeople for the citizens of Taipei. 3)Dividing our team into two groups, we conducted the first on-line debate on the topic “Should the Old Taipei City Wall be Reconstructed on the Original Site?” During the debate, each team member presented opinions on whether or not the Old Taipei City Wall should be reconstructed on the original site.

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

1)The project has given community members an appreciation for the importance of historical landmark preservation. For those in the community who were unfamiliar with the Old Taipei City Wall, our Web site is a treasure trove of information. In addition to collecting such secondary materials as books, newspapers, and Internet sites, we enlisted Professor Li Qian-Lang of Chinese Culture University and Mr. Xie Ying-Cong of the Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs to explain the significance of historical landmark preservation and the measures taken by the Taipei city government to protect historical landmarks. 2)We helped the community understand that methods of historical landmark preservation can be debated. Our report differs from most reports on historical landmarks in that we conducted a full-scale debate on the city government’s current approach to historical landmark protection, allowing people to rethink the future direction of the city wall preservation policy. 3)We proposed five major recommendations to the Taipei city government on the preservation of the old city wall historical site. Having gained a thorough understanding of the city government’s city wall landmark preservation policies, we conducted a telephone opinion survey of Taipei residents to learn how much they cared about the city government’s methods of preserving the old city wall. Based on this information, we then put our recommendations in a recommendation letter to Mr. Ma Ying-jeou, the mayor of Taipei. These recommendations were taken quite seriously, and in addition to investigating the feasibility of our recommendations the city government offered us US$3500 to cover the cost of having our recommendations translated into English and enable our participation in the 2002 CyberFair. We are greatly appreciative of the city government’s generosity.

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

1)We are particularly appreciative of the assistance of Professor Li Qian-Lang of Chinese Culture University and Mr. Xie Ying-Cong of the Taipei city government for taking time out of their busy schedules to allow us to interview and videotape them. We also received a great deal of assistance from the Taipei Archives Commission Library. 2)We are also thankful for the 150 citizens of Taipei who graciously agreed to take part in our random telephone survey on the topic of how much Taipei citizens care about the city government’s approach to preservation of the old city wall. Of course, we’re sorry to have disturbed the more than 100 Taipei residents who for one reason or another refused to answer our questions. 3)We are grateful for the positive reception the Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs gave our report and its offer of US$3500 to cover translation costs. Without this contribution we would not be able to participate in this contest.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

1)The importance of a proper approach. For our telephone opinion survey each team member was responsible for making 40 calls. One of the members did not bother making the calls, instead just filling out the questionnaires with false responses. After this was discovered, our faculty adviser told us about the impact of false responses. Pressed for time, we nonetheless decided to strike the bogus answers and re-tabulate our results, wasting a great deal of time. This taught us a valuable lesson in the proper attitude towards scholarship. 2)Go ahead and speak your mind; someone could be listening: Upon receiving our recommendations, the Taipei City Bureau of Cultural Affairs made US$3500 available to us to cover translation costs, making our participation in CyberFair 2002 possible. We were absolutely stunned with surprise and delight that our trivial suggestions were taken so seriously by adults.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1914)

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