In the first of a new series where Taiwan Scene chats to people who moved to Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic, we fired a few questions at Clarissa Wei, an award-winning Taiwanese-American freelance journalist with a passion for farming. Specializing in food, she’s written for the likes of National Geographic, CNN, VICE, the Los Angeles Times, and Bon Appetit, as well as formerly being a senior reporter for Gold Thread, a video-focused arm of the South China Morning Post. Check out an example of Wei’s work and our interview with her below. (Coming to Taiwan during COVID?: 10 Questions About Entering Taiwan During the COVID-19 Pandemic)
When did you arrive in Taiwan and where did you come from?
I arrived in November from Hong Kong. I was there for a job for two years, but I’m originally from Los Angeles.
You were planning to move here for a while. Did the pandemic have any influence on when you finally decided to make the move?
No, I’d be in Taiwan even if there was a pandemic within Taiwan, but it’s a nice bonus that the country is COVID-free. After spending much of 2020 in Hong Kong and Sweden, it was a relief touching down in Taiwan and being able to live without fear of contracting COVID.
What do you do here in Taipei?
I’m a freelance journalist. I have a farm on the side where I’m growing some vegetables and fruit trees for fun.
What are your feelings about living in Taiwan, where life is “normal” during a global pandemic?
We’re really fortunate to be in a country that can cooperate on how to manage a pandemic. It’s refreshing to be in a place where mask-wearing has bipartisanship support and isn’t politicized.
How has being here during the pandemic benefited you both personally and professionally?
A lot of publications have expressed more interest in Taiwanese topics lately because life has been so normal here compared to the rest of the world. I don’t really think about the pandemic on a day-to-day basis, which is luxury in and of itself.
What are your plans for the future? Are you here long term?
Yep! I’m planning to stay in Taiwan and continue to write more about this part of the world.
Anything you want to add about the direction Taiwan is going in with regards to pandemic management/vaccines/reopening?
I think Taiwan’s way of managing the pandemic is exemplary and I don’t think people here will let their guard down anytime soon—even as vaccines become more commonplace and the world returns back to normal. It’s comforting being in a place that takes science seriously.
(Cover photo: Clarissa Wei via Instagram)