In the Press
April 30th, 2002
"Hottest Virtual Spot for the International Community"
One of the most informative and well-organized English-language Web sites in Taiwan is called Oriented.org. In its own words, the Web site aims "to fill the need for a comprehensive, English-language resource about Taiwan, to provide relevant information about living in Taiwan and to foster information exchange within Taiwan's global community."
As evidenced by the number of persons receiving the Oriented.org weekly e-bulletin, the site has an active membership of some 2200 "regulars", mostly international professionals working on the island, foreign language teachers, students studying here in Taiwan as well as local citizens with diverse backgrounds. But beyond regulars there are on average 10,000 unique visitors per month, according to Christine Hsu -- a very small figure for a community Web site, but a formidable one for this niche community of expatriates in Taiwan.
Christine and the other co-founder Gus Adapon had a vision to recognize the global community in Taiwan for the impact that it makes and to foster positive community action by recognizing those who contribute to society. One prime example of this that happens every day is in the Oriented.org "Legal Matters" forum. This forum is moderated by one of Taiwan's most well-known legal consultants Richard Hartzell. Mr. Hartzell, although not a lawyer, studies laws that apply to the expatriate community and often provides pro bono legal advice to persons from abroad who have questions that impact their lives in Taiwan.
Currently in the "Legal Matters" forum, Hartzell is looking for persons willing to appear with the premier to thank him for revisions to the Employment Services Act that allow non-citizens of Taiwan to obtain work permits. Now, non-citizens can legally accept almost any kind of work that citizens do, including part time work. It has not been confirmed whether such a meeting will take place, but credit should go to Oriented.org for providing the virtual venue, to foster the idea and let it take flight.
The site offers a number of other forums that expatriates may find useful or informative from job postings to cultural discussions; from off-the-cuff treatises on romanization systems to (gasp!) rants about English newspapers. Recently, hot forum topics are "Satan worship", which has generated 36 replies in just four days, and "Mormon missionary experience".
Those who do not know Chinese may be happy to find interesting things under the "Events" category on Oriented.org. An online community events calendar, this service is used by many of the professional and social organizations in Taiwan to promote their upcoming events at no charge. Also, members of the community have formed social groups which include an eclectic array of activities. One group meets monthly and discusses uses and applications for Linux open source code software. Another group meets either to go scuba diving or to share experiences scuba diving in Taiwan.
Most recently, Oriented.org has rolled out regionally-coordinated Happy Hours around the region, with the last event in Taipei drawing a crowd of over 100 people from the international community of Taiwan.
Oriented.org is virtually community-run. The discussion forums are moderated by a chosen core of regular members. Community members are also encouraged to type entries into the yellow pages to help others find something. Of course, none of it would have been possible without Web design and elbow-grease of its co-founders Christine Hsu and Gus Adapon.
Expat living can sometimes be a little aggravating, but the Oriented.org virtual
community can help orient so-called "foreigners" in the orient. I should know, I'm member #58 and have received a lot of very good advice from fellow members.