Serendipity: Fighting and Singing Insects--on Beigan, Taiwan November 27, 2010
By Kevin Stoda, Matsu Islands of Taiwan
About a month ago, my wife and I had seen a program from National Geographic on "the cricket man" and fighting insects of China and Taiwan.
While the role of fighting crickets dates back in Chinese history to over two millennia ago. It is a relatively new sport in Taiwan, where I now live..
That episode of National Geographic, my wife and I had watched was focused primarily on crickets and their trainer in Taiwan. However, part of the program involved a journey to Shanghai with some of these champion crickets for an international match.
That episode of National Geographic focused on the journey of a small-town, but nationally-renowned raiser of crickets. The man, named Ango, has been raising crickets and promoting entomology in schools for many decades.
Till-our-present-day, international cricket combat championships are still held in Beijing, the traditional seat of the Chinese empire s. However, crickets and their do-jo masters have made the trip from Japan, Taiwan and the Koreas.
Crickets have far more to offer than fighting skills. Historically, crickets are items for eating connoisseurs throughout Asia. In addition, they have been main (& beloved) and have become characters in Disney movies. Recently, they have played roles in modern alternative music.
Naturally, poets and other romantics have also sung odes to the joy of listening to crickets in the evening. Most of us consider crickets therapeutic and relaxing to listen to.
This is where serendipity or coincidence in space and time fit in with my wife and my experience here in the Matsu Islands this week.
Namely, there is this very weekend a traveling "Singing Insect" exhibition with entomologists and musicologists staying at Ban Li Elementary School where I live and work. Among the leading organizers of this nationally touring exhibitio n (sponsored by the Quanta Culture & Education Foundation) is Dr. Jen-Yze Yang, Department of Entomology at the National Chung Hsing University.
Dr. Yang was a main character and advisor for the National Geographic program on fighting insects in Taiwan, which I had seen with my wife for the first time in October. Dr. Yang is also President of the Biological Society of the R.O.C (Republic of China or Taiwan). The Quanta Culture & Education Foundation sponsors such touring exhibitions as the one here in Ban Li--and organized by people like R. Yang-- in rural parts of Taiwan, i.e. schools and school districts that have been relatively underfunded (or poor) for decades.
Children along with their teachers have come today from three different islands to take part in the all day learning event and exhibition "Singing Insects". Today's program and exhibition focuses, therefore, on katydids (grasshoppers), cicadas, and crickets.
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