Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) took part in hosting the awards ceremony of the 20th Taiwan-France Cultural Award held in Paris on Nov. 28, marking her first overseas engagement in cultural diplomacy since she took office earlier this year.
The cultural award was co-founded by the Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Moral Science and Politics of the Institute of France in 1996 to enhance cultural exchanges between the two nations. It expanded its scope to honor those from the European Union, Swiss Confederation, and Ukraine in 2006, and increased the number of recipients from one to two.
This year's honors went to researcher Samia Ferhat and the European Union Centre at National Sun Yat-sen University, with each of them receiving a prize of €25,000 in recognition of their contributions to Taiwan-Europe exchanges.
Ferhat is a researcher at the Research Center for Contemporary China Studies of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) and lecturer at Paris West University Nanterre. She has focused on Taiwan studies for more than two decades. In 1994, she obtained her master's degree at the National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of National Development with her dissertation titled "National Development in Taiwan.”
Ferhat then pursued a doctoral degree at University of Paris-Sud with her dissertation titled "The Tangwai Movement in Taiwan (1949-1986): Development Process of the Political Entity of Taiwan in the Republic of China” in 1996.
Taiwanese elements, especially the identity issues of Taiwan, have played a major role in Ferhat's studies and teaching. These issues are explored in her publication titled "Taïwan, île de mémoires [Taiwan, Island Memories].”
The European Union Centre at National Sun Yat-sen University was established by the European Commission in 2009 to enhance Taiwan's understanding of Europe in terms of culture, art, service, education, and research.
The center also serves as a platform for sharing information related to the European Union and its member nations, and organizes cultural exchange programs for schools and universities in Taiwan.
It has promoted the understanding of Europe in Taiwan while relaying information back to Europe. The center's exchange programs have not only benefitted the National Sun Yat-sen University but also students studying in primary and high schools and universities in southern Taiwan.
"La pauvreté des biens est facile à guérir, la pauvreté de l'âme, impossible [Poverty of goods is easily cured; poverty of soul, impossible],” said Minister Cheng, quoting French philosopher Michel de Montaigne during her opening speech to emphasize the importance of culture as a nation's soul.
Taiwan, a country besieged by wars and conflicts during its transition from an authoritarian system to a democratic one, has since cultivated a diverse culture by learning and practicing humanitarianism and tolerance after democratization, she noted.
The Minister congratulated Ferhat and Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀), president of National Sun Yat-sen University, and extended an invite to all the attendees at the 20th Taiwan-France Cultural Award ceremony to become a partner of Taiwan through culture.
From left to right: Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun, Gilbert Guillaume (Président de l'Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques), and Xavier Darcos (secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie des sciences morales et politiques).
The winners: Samia Ferhat (second left) and the European Union Centre at National Sun Yat-sen University, which was represented by Cheng Ying-yao (third left) at the ceremony.