Throughout the pandemic, people in Taiwan led relatively normal lives — they went to work in offices, went to school, and ate in restaurants — all because Taiwan tightly controlled its coronavirus cases.
In Los Angeles, actor Welly Yang, who starred in the play "Miss Saigon," saw what was happening in Taiwan and decided to move his family there. And they weren't alone.
In an interview for "LA Times Today," Welly joined host Lisa McRee with the details.
During the pandemic, Welly stayed in touch with his family in Taiwan and realized they had an opposite experience.
"My family was sending me pictures of their amazing meals and telling me that life was normal, and schools had never been shut down. Meanwhile, a few acquaintances I would see on Facebook were out at these amazing restaurants, and I felt pretty jealous."
When Welly proposed moving to Taiwan to his family, he thought it would be challenging to convince them.
"I thought it would be harder for my wife to accept it at first. I am a child of immigrants, but my wife's family, even though she is Asian American, has been in America for four or five generations. Her family only speaks English. I thought it would be a hard sell, but when she saw the kids on their computers all day, spacing out, she said she did not want that for them. So, we started talking about it, and she said she would be interested in getting a visa and figure out a way to getting them into a school. And now here we are."
Even though living in Taiwan has been an excellent experience for Welly and his family, there are some challenges.
"My children did not grow up speaking Mandarin; they had only spoken English before. And I had grown up speaking Taiwanese, and I learned Mandarin later so I can get around pretty easily. But for the kids, the language was an issue. However, I also wanted them to feel what it is to live in a world where we are not a minority. They have been able to get around that challenge; it is a very safe country where the kids can walk around unsupervised, and they love practicing Mandarin. So it has been fun for them; we have been able to give them a level of freedom we would have never imagined in the United States."
Welly has met many families who lived in the United States but decided to move to Taiwan.
"Some of us are calling it a renaissance, even though many of us were born in the United States. We have met hundreds of people like us; many are new friends, but some are old friends that we knew growing up. We are all so grateful to be here. We initially called ourselves 'COVID refugees,' which at first sounded like a funny term, but after the Asian hate stuff started happening, it felt like we were finding a safe haven in the land of our ancestors."
While Welly is grateful to have been raised in America, he is glad he and his family can experience how a different world operates.
"Everything is so safe here; there are no guns, and it does not need to be like it is in America. My son has lost his cellphone in the park, and it was returned; I have lost my ATM card twice, and it was returned both times. As beautiful as the American dream is, we have a way to go, and I just hope we can get out of this pandemic and realize that America can be a much safer place."
Click the arrow above for the interview. Watch "LA Times Today" at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on Spectrum News 1 and the app.