The Principal’s Dream Workshop
Education is extremely important for a country. With its marvellous educational environment and with government support for education, the small town of Fenglin has come to be known as “principal country”. In this time of informational explosion, when copying others has become commonplace, the people of Fenglin hope to preserve the traditional spirit of their town. To this end, they want to make a place where the older generation can pass on what they know and the younger generation can learn what is right.
Many people in Fenglin are dedicated to education. A total of 113 local people have been school principals, making Fenglin the town with the highest density of school principals. The Principal’s Dream Workshop was originally the residence of Fenglin’s highest official; later on it became the residence of the principal of Fenglin Junior High School. After renovation, in 2004 the building was named The Principal’s Dream Workshop. Where did this name come from?
A workshop is a place where things are made, and this workshop makes educational dreams, hence the name Principal’s Dream Workshop. This place aims to record and commemorate the large number of school principals hailing from Fenglin in order to pass on their dream of educational development.
The Principal’s Dream Workshop was born from the above ideas. As education has become more diverse, classrooms and schools are no longer the only places where learning can take place. The Principal’s Dream Workshop provides nearby schools with an open space for reading and seeks to educate and inspire students. The workshop also holds a variety of exploratory educational activities. The workshop is now run by the Fenglin Township Office and has received recognition from people who have long been committed to the passing on of community culture, including current and retired school principals and teachers, civil servants, a women’s association and the Fenglin school principals’ association. A history and culture association has been set up to take over management of the workshop. The association will work together with the existing volunteers to continue to train the staff needed to carry out a range of tasks at the workshop. It will also find ways to run the workshop without increasing the burden on the township’s finances.
The Principal’s Dream Workshop’s exhibition space is divided into a permanent exhibition and a community exhibition. The first uses the oral history of school principals from Fenglin to present their stories, such as how they grew up, how they learned and how they devoted their lives to education. The second is planned by schools and other organizations in Fenglin, who are free to use the space to hold their own exhibitions of calligraphy works by the elderly or paintings by schoolchildren, and so on.
The running of this museum is a collective effort by the local community. Local people manage the venue, and community volunteers are responsible for tasks such as guided tours and cleaning.
Local participation in the running of the workshop is key to our goal of promoting culture in Fenglin. The well thought-out spatial planning of the building provides students with a quiet place to read, and the café is a place for recreation where locals can relax. The Principal’s Dream Workshop strives to continue the town’s tradition of learning, so that even in the hustle and bustle of the modern world the younger generation do not lose themselves. Nearby sites, such as the Confucius Temple and the Hakka Museum, are also of interest.
The Principal’s Dream Workshop is located at 16 Minsheng Street in Fenglin Township. The Japanese-style wooden building covers an area of over 1,500 square metres and was built in 1929. It was originally the residence of the top Japanese colonial official in Fenglin, which is what gives the building historical significance.
Later on the building fell into disuse and disrepair, becoming extremely dilapidated and overgrown and gradually being forgotten by local people. In 2003, in response to the then Council for Cultural Affairs’ efforts to promote local cultural museums, Fenglin Township Office started planning the Principal’s Dream Workshop. In order to increase usable space, unused land in front of the building was turned into the Education Park and Minsheng Street was paved and turned into a pedestrian zone. The workshop’s exhibition space is divided into a permanent exhibition and a community exhibition.
1. The permanent exhibition is based on the oral history of Fenglin school principals. Interviews with over forty principals were turned into accounts of how they grew up, how they learned and how they dedicated their lives to education. It is hoped that their stories will inspire the local people. The permanent exhibition includes an account of the origin and mission of the Principal’s Dream Workshop, a description of “principal country”, the stories of the principals, a list of principals from Fenglin, an introduction to word-worshipping pavilions and an introduction to traditional bamboo-made walls. In addition to the exhibits, there is also an area where visitors can leave messages, enabling them to interact with the workshop and also enabling us to read visitors’ suggestions. We have also set up the first word-worshipping pavilion in eastern Taiwan, which highlights traditional virtues such as hard study, diligence, frugality and integrity—important values for the Hakka people of Fenglin.
2. Community exhibitions are planned by schools and other organizations in Fenglin, who are free to use the space to hold their own events. Events such as exhibitions of calligraphy by the elderly and paintings by schoolchildren or locals can be held here. We also have a quiet space where students can read and a café where people can relax. The Principal’s Dream Workshop is a community museum with the mission of collecting, preserving and passing on local history and promoting education in the community. Local volunteers run the workshop and are responsible for cleaning and giving guided tours. This kind of participation helps to strengthen the local community. With the help of local people, the Principal’s Dream Workshop hopes to continue to promote culture and education in Fenglin.
How to get there
1. By car: about 40 minutes from Hualien City Train Station
2. By public transport: take a Hualian Bus or a train to Fenglin Train Station. The Principal’s Dream Workshop is a 5–10 min walk from the station.
The Principal’s Dream Workshop
open daily 8.30–12.00 & 13.30–17.00
16 Minsheng Street, Fenglin Township, Hualien County