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Savannah Willits: Urban Studies and Community Development

Savannah’s Experience

Overall, my main take away from this experience is the importance of innovation. After living in Taichung—a city with more than two million people—and being briefed by different Taiwanese organizations, such as ATI and TaiwanThinktank, it’s clear that innovation is the key to a thriving and functioning society. Specifically, new ideas and creativity lead to a better quality of life through the practice of efficiency and resourcefulness. Whether it’s having a metro card that works for all public transportation and functions as a studentID and dorm key or an electric scooter, innovation conserves our time and resources. When living in a city with a multi-million population, innovation is also way of life in order to accommodate such a massive population. As the size of cities is expected to increase, human ingenuity will only become more important and central to living.

On a grander scale, I believe innovation—whether technological, social, or anything in between—creates an influential society that is destined to lead the rest of world. Power and domination has been in the favor of innovative entities throughout history. In order to remain relevant on the world stage and to continue to succeed in all areas of life, America must innovate and continue to be at the forefront of advancing technology. In comparison, in order to exert power and influence, Taiwan must not only innovate, but also keep their secrets from swimming to the mainland, despite the difficulty Chinese subsidies and strategic forms of bribery. Innovation is a critical way to increase hard and soft power, for an innovative country provides a model for the rest of the world.

If new ideas shape the world, how do we cultivate a culture of innovation? Similarly, how does one become an entrepreneur? The traits of an entrepreneur are also the traits of people who are willing to embrace living in a foreign country: they are willing to learn and make mistakes, to have patience, and to have courage to try. Personally, I struggle with all of these concepts as a perfectionist. The fear of failure and imperfection stops ingenuity before it even begins. Accepting that life will have unforeseen obstacles and having courage to face the unknown is central to cultivating new ideas and experiences. For the emphasis is placed upon learning and growth, instead of stagnation of perfection. Accepting the risk of failure is a healthy and necessary endeavor and is a critical lesson for those who value innovation. Due to this lesson of innovation, I strive to be more tolerant and courageous in the face of failure and imperfection. Opportunities are abundant when one is willing to try—even if it is trying tofu which smells like death at a night market.

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