According to the calculation of the Ministry of the Interior National Immigration Agency, there are in total over millions of new immigrants in Taiwan by the end of October in 2021. No matter the new immigrants come to Taiwan for studying, working, or marriage. Taiwan’s multi-culture has added a more splendid chapter with their striving experiences. The world can re-discover Taiwan from a different perspective. These excellent new immigrants have become great models for Taiwan’s international popularity and become the Outstanding immigrants in Taiwan.
【Taiwan Immigrant’s Global News network】launches the unit of “‘Outstanding immigrants in Taiwan” We interviewed a few beloved new immigrants for our readers. With their excellent accomplishments, Taiwan could exert our visibility and influence with our wonderful stories on the international platform.
“Outstanding immigrants in Taiwan”
Robin Ruizendaal (Netherland)
Robin Ruizendaal is from Netherland and has been in Taiwan for almost thirty years. He has been dedicated himself to the research of Taiwanese puppet shows. By promoting puppet hows to over fifty countries worldwide and shouting “Love for Taiwan’’ with many political figures, Ruizendaal’s love for Taiwan has deeply touched everyone.
Robin Ruizendaal was highly interested in Orient when he was a child. Part of this interest was derived from his grandfather who once was working in Indonesia for many years. He started to learn Sinology and study puppet shows when he was older. He had studied for puppet shows in Xiamen, Chinese for several years. He realized it was not easy, to tell the truth from fiction according to the historic descriptions. However, puppet shows are a living art format that could truly connect to common people. It has played an important figure in culture inheritance and education for thousands of years in Chinese cultural history.
In 1990, Robin Ruizendaal got the project, “Netherland International Puppet Show Festival.” He served as a translator for Taiwanese puppet show master, Li Tien-lu’s I Wan Jan Puppet Troupe during their European tour. During this time together, Ruizendaal realized Taiwanese puppet show performers are widely different from the Chinese puppet show troupes which make him curious about the Taiwanese puppet shows. In the next year, he applied for a scholarship to study Taiwanese puppet shows under the suggestion of his professor at the University of Oxford. He then settled down in Taiwan and became the most significant driving force to promote the Taiwanese puppet shows onto the global stage.
To promote Taiwanese puppet shows, Ruizendaal called out to a couple of his friends who share the same passion to establish a small puppet museum with their money. In 2000, the well-known doctor, Lin Jing-fu who has taken part in the medical and cultural field donated his life-saving puppets. There were over five thousand pieces of puppets. With these puppets, he established Taiyuan Asian Puppet Theatre Museum and asked Ruizendaal to be the curator to assist in promoting Taiwan and Asian puppet shows.
Robin Ruizendaal said, “Puppet show is the best vessel to pass on history. Nevertheless, Taiwanese young men nowadays are like little foreigners. They have no longer interested in this cultural history that has been inherited for over five thousand years.” To let the young generation be familiar with this traditional culture, Ruizendaal has held hundreds of exhibitions and visited every elementary school in Taiwan to perform the shadowplay teaching and do-it-yourself thousands of times. He actively works with schools to bring the traditional puppet shows into campus and let children learn more about this traditional performing art eventually grow to like it.
Robin Ruizendaal is thinking thoroughly about how to redesign Taiwanese puppet shows to let more people notice this traditional culture. He has been visiting puppet show masters through Taiwan and writing an original drama with professional stage designers and musicians. His play, “Marco Polo” is a neoclassical puppet show which combines eastern and western culture with historical stories. It is performed in Taiwanese and Italian. Its original soundtrack is composed of Italian opera with traditional Beiguan and Nanguan music. This neoclassical puppet show is a combination of eastern and western culture and art. It has received high recommendations not only in Taiwan but also around Europe and performed hundreds of times in Taiwan. It has been translated into over twenty languages and performed in over fifty countries around the world which have made Taiwanese puppet shows’ reputation abroad.
Robin Ruizendaal has adapted the Taiwanese folk tale of Liāu Thiam-teng into a neoclassical puppet show, “ The Homicide of Liāu Thiam-teng” and children’s story “Dadaocheng’s Mice Marry A Wife.” Ruizendaal manages to introduce his favorite location Dadaocheng to the foreign audience through these plays. “Because of these neoclassical puppet shows, many foreign tourists in Taiwan would come to Dadaocheng especially,” said Robin Ruizendaal. In 2008, Robin Ruizendaal was elected as an honorary citizen of Taipei City. His accomplishment in promoting Taiwanese puppet shows in the international has made him awarded with Taiwan and French Cultural Award in 2019. In 2021, he received the first Cultural Association Award from the Ministry of Culture which acknowledges his dedication on Taiwanese culture.
Robin Ruizendaal’s perseverance and devotion to puppet show culture are not only embodied with cross-culture but also with a modern approach. He innovates Taiwanese puppet shows and manages to make connections internationally. He wants to let the whole world notice Taiwan.