This entry includes links to the author’s personal blog, which represents her viewpoint alone. NSLI-Y Interactive posts do not equate to endorsements of ideas written on students’ personal blogs.

Halden is from Pinehurst, NC and participated in the China Summer 2018 and Taiwan AY 2020-2021 programs. Halden previously wrote for NSLI-Y Interactive about her NSLI-Y program experience in China and her time as an Alumni Representative in 2020.

Image of temples and their reflection on a body of water

While I was studying abroad in Taiwan, I took advantage of this opportunity to explore my spiritual and religious beliefs, as well as learn about the perspectives of others. Many conversations culminated into these two blog posts/podcast episodes I wrote on Little Dragon’s Journey, my personal blogsite. Along with these two is a whole series on different spiritual/religious experiences I had in Taiwan called “Religion Series 宗教系列.”

Please know that all episodes in the “Religion Series 宗教系列” are almost completely in Mandarin Chinese. In the future, I may translate them into English, but at this moment, let Google Translate (or other accessible translating software) serve as a good friend. Below, I did provide a brief English summary to give you a little insight into where my quandary led me.

I welcome you to join me on this reflection.

Image of a street in Taiwan lined by buildings

First, An Introduction•簡介, the introductory episode I created for my blog, Little Dragon’s Journey.

You may be wondering, “What is Little Dragon’s Journey?”, so I would like to take this time to answer that very question. In 2018, I studied abroad in Chengdu, China, which is the capitol of the Sichuan Province, for about 6 to 8 weeks through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). NSLI-Y is a study abroad program funded by the United States’ State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and facilitated by various organizations with the purpose of providing high school students the opportunity to study critical languages in the countries where they’re spoken for a summer and/or academic year. More on NSLI-Y in future episodes. To record and reflect on the experiences I was having, I decided to create my blog site: Little Dragon’s Journey.

Now that two years have passed, you may wonder, “Why make Little Dragon’s Journey a podcast now?” As a matter of fact, I graduated from high school a few months ago and am currently taking a gap year as a NSLI-Y Chinese (Mandarin) Academic Year Student/Scholar and UNC-CH Global Gap Year Fellow (GGYF). We love acronyms! More on GGYF in future episodes. One of my gap year goals is to continue to engage with and support the disability community, so I wanted to create an audio companion to my written blog posts for individuals who would otherwise be unable to, or would prefer to, access information about studying abroad, gap years, and other related content available on my blog site.

I will be doing weekly podcast episodes in the pattern of 2020-2021 gap year letters, 2020-2021 culinary adventure journals, 2018 study abroad reflections, and a bonus episode or a few mystery flavors. For now, episodes will be in English, but hopefully in the future I will produce some episodes in Chinese.

Now, let us take a moment to ponder…

Image of a blue, pink, and red sunset behind tall pine trees

What is Religion?(Part 1) • 宗教到底是什麼?(第一集)(中文)

Here, I start our discussion with a few answers and many questions. In presenting this question to the people who have entered my life, including religious leaders, teachers, and friends, I have been exposed to many different thoughts and opinions, fueling my desire to reach some sort of evolving conclusion.

What is Religion?(Part 2) • 宗教到底是什麼?(第二集)(中文)

This is where I attempt to answer the question at hand, as well as provide a little information on why I decided to explore this question. Previously, in the episode titled “Comparing My Experience with Religion in Taiwan and America,” I mentioned that, around 2018, I began to question my identify and beliefs; in “What is Religion? (Part 2),” I go into further detail on where this inquiry began and why, as well as describe the evolving outcome.

The second part of “What is Religion? (Part 2)” is where I share answers from my classmates, my teachers, as well as my host dad. Their answers, specifically one of my classmates’, led me into a slight digression into attempting to explain the difference between “religious” and “spiritual.”

Once again, if you can’t read Mandarin Chinese, Google Translate isn’t a bad resource. On the other hand, if you can speak Mandarin Chinese, I challenge you to take a moment to listen to the episodes linked above and look at the transcript. Please feel free to share with me any thoughts you may have with me in English or Chinese.