hao ran foundation

We grant the action of one with grand vision

Rebuilding a School, Preserving a Way of Life

On September 21, 1999, Taiwan was thrown into an unprecedented state of chaos when a major earthquake struck the island. The earthquake caused extensive damage to many communities in Taiwan. After assessing the reconstruction needs of the stricken areas, Hao Ran Foundation elected to help rebuild Tan Nan Elementary School, located near Sun Moon Lake, in Nantou County.

Following the disaster, relief efforts moved to rebuild the community. During the reconstruction, Hao Ran sought to develop a plan that would support the rebuilding of physical structures as well as cultural norms and traditional practices.

The reconstruction process revolved around one core idea: to build a good school for the next generation. Hao Ran believes that a school should not only be a place for learning, but also as a place for sharing cultural heritage. The goal was not simply to rebuild the school itself, but also to develop an educational environment that was connected to the local community.

While pursuing this educational goal, we compiled a group of passionate partners to work together on the reconstruction of the Tan Nan Elementary School. Hao Ran is very clear on its position as a lifelong partner, providing assistance to what is really needed. The most important facet of the reconstruction plan was the involvement of local residents to determine what things are culturally important to this community and, as such, need to be retained, revived or preserved. Some villagers were invited as fulltime executives to discuss the design concept and monitor the reconstruction process, others were welcomed to attend the interaction process to share opinions. Even the children’s ideas for the school were taken into serious consideration.

With the residents’ suggestions and ideas considered, a few concepts for the school became clear favorites among the villagers. Architect Le-Ching Chiang’s design was finally elected as the model for the process, the new school would train an eye towards merging traditional education with local culture and history.

The new school is designed to provide teachers and students a more open space that also encourages participation by community residents. Many of the school buildings reflect the culture of the Bunnun Tribe, native to the Tan Nan area, such as the school library built to resemble a traditional granary to reflect the storage of knowledge and the traditional Bunnun-housing style school building that reflects cultural heritage.

In addition to rebuilding the school, Hao Ran Foundation planned a community cultural heritage project for the Tan Nan area. The project supported the publication of a series of educational materials on local ecology and the traditional weaving, dyeing and construction skills of the local Bunnun Tribe.

The process of recovering traditional skills for publication was easier said than done. Hao Ran and our partners worked together, engaging in field research, interviews and copious studying of traditional skills to produce more sophisticated products through forward-looking information. These educational materials helped to revive fading traditional techniques and cultures that once again enriched local culture and created new economic opportunities.

Rebuilding the Tan Nan Elementary School was just a start; other hardships persisted in the community as the rebuilding progressed. In cases such as this, Hao Ran Foundation hopes to inspire individuals and organizations engaging in similar programs to think broadly and act swiftly.