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Home > Benjamin Fan: Roots Among Taiwanese Homeschool Pioneers

Homeschooled in Taiwan: Benjamin Fan

December 12th, 2008

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Fan at his job as PHC dining hall greeter. Also depicted, PHC President Dr. Graham Walker

Some evenings, walking down the hallway in Patrick Henry College’s Founder’s Hall, one might hear the haunting tones of a piano wafting from a nearby classroom. The line played by one hand ripples swift and short, while over it dances an improvised melody. These skilled hands belong to PHC senior Benjamin Fan, who arrived in Purcellville four years ago after spending most of his youth growing up in Taiwan.

He is the son of Mrs. Chuo-chuin Fan, a pioneering “homeschool mom” who founded and now helps run the largest multi-denominational homeschool support group in Taiwan. Known as the Mujen Chinese Christian Home Educators’ Association, the group serves more than 270 homeschooling families and acts as an important distribution point for home education resources for families throughout China.

Even with his deep Taiwanese roots, Benjamin Fan still marvels that upon arrival at PHC he stepped smoothly from one culture into another: “What struck me the most was how little my upbringing affected my college life. I blended in almost perfectly; there were almost no bumps or problems.” After initial surprise over the size of the close-knit PHC campus, he dove into his studies as a Government: Strategic Intelligence major.

His smooth transition from Taiwan to college life in the States certainly had much to do with his intrepid family and their dramatic history of moving where God called them, starting new lives, and standing firm where they were planted. Thirty years ago, Benjamin Fan’s mother, Chuo-chuin and her husband moved to the United States from Taiwan to attend graduate school—at about the same time she became a Christian. The couple lived in Richardson, Texas, when they started their family. Growing in their studies and in their faith they became convicted about the need to homeschool their children, but as the only Taiwanese family in the area and brand-new at homeschooling, they relied on the support and encouragement of several local homeschooling families.

Thirteen years ago, when Chuo-chuin learned that her father had been diagnosed with a brain tumor, the entire family moved back to Taiwan to be with him. Once there, the Fans launched the Mujen Chinese Christian Home Educators’ Association as a resource and advocacy group supporting a nascent homeschooling movement struggling to take root in Taiwan’s overtly secular culture.

Though fairly young during those early years, Benjamin Fan recalls that, “we would always be grilled and interrogated by people who found out we were homeschooling—neighbors, friends, random strangers. We’d always have to explain that we were U.S. citizens, and so the [mandatory school attendance] law did not apply.”

From the Association sprang various support groups and book fairs; published newsletters; special curricula for brain-injured children; Bible camps, Chinese Literature camps, and Youth camps. The group appealed cases on behalf of members and even non-members. Out of 22 million inhabitants of Taiwan, there are about 1,200 elementary and middle school-aged children receiving education at home this year, and half of those belong to the Fans’ homeschool association. As long-time members of the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Fan’s were well appraised of the launch of Patrick Henry College and, when the time was right for the second of their four children to attend college, it came as no great surprise that he gravitated toward PHC's academically rigorous, homeschool-friendly campus.

As graduation approaches, Fan said he does not intend to return to Taiwan. And while he majored in Government in the Strategic Intelligence track, on the cusp of graduation the talented musician feels drawn in another direction.

“I feel that God is calling me away from a career in SI,” says Fan. “What I would really like to do with my life is to write soundtracks and freelance music.”

So whether he attends graduate school for music or seeks a job with a non-profit group, this young man whose family helped spur a homeschool movement in Taiwan is ready to follow God’s leading on yet another adventure, one which might refine his unusual musical gifts. While uncertain where the journey will lead, he eyes the finish line at PHC grateful for the many friendships he has built.

“The most important things I learned at PHC were many powerful insights about God and the Christian life,” he says. “I have learned much from the 500-plus outstanding fellow believers over six semesters. I will leave PHC a much different believer and follower of Christ than when I first came here. That’s the biggest thing the PHC education did for me—more than moot court briefs or Plato or Thucydides.”

And the PHC campus, in turn, is all the richer for Fan and his late-night musical experiments. Nurturing an emerging vision into unfamiliar terrain, Fan exemplifies the diversity of talents, backgrounds, and callings that heighten the Patrick Henry College experience.

Read full profile on the Fan family from the HSLDA website.