Having lived in Taiwan now for 5+ years, we’ve seen our share of cultural differences, both in action and in thinking. One of those, which always makes us smile, is how the Taiwanese define “Youth”. In the West, when speaking of youth we are predominately referring to individuals in their pre-teen and teenage years. We have youth groups, youth retreats, and youth camps, all which target junior high and high school aged students. Well, the Taiwanese have a much different definition of youth. This past Sunday was “Youth Sunday” at our church and all indiviudals 30 and younger were asked to stand and be recognized as the youth of the church. Yes, it’s true. Here you are not considered an adult until you pass the 30 year old mark. The mindset is that you really can’t know what you are doing in life until you are 30. Perhaps this is because majority of Taiwanese live at home with their families until they marry, which usually happens in early to late 30’s, sometimes into the 40’s. Until they reach that age they are too busy educating themselves, obtaining several degrees, working, etc. to even begin thinking about dating, marriage, starting a family, etc. Most Taiwanese are a bit shocked when they find a Western couple in their 20’s already married.
So, this is just one example of how Taiwanese thinking and Western thinking are vastly different. But, hey, it’s not a bad thing because on the flip side you aren’t considered old until you’re pushing 90. Haha.