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Taiwan is my second home,says Dr. Vivek Walia, an Associate Research Fellow at the National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering (NCREE). Dr. Walia speaks gently and authoritatively as most scholars do. During our interview, he told us about his family’s experience in Taiwan. Dr. Walia lives in Taiwan with his wife and son. His beautiful wife, Monika, also accompanied him to the interview and together they shared their story with us. They like life in Taiwan very much!
Little bit about your Education ?
Dr. Walia comes from Amritsar, India. Amritsar, meaning The Pool of the Nectar of Immortality, is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. It is most famous for the Harimandir Sahib, the most sacred shrine of Sikhism, which is also known as the Golden Temple.
Dr. Walia comes from a middle class family of five;he, his parents, and two sisters. His parents invested all their money and energy into their children’s educations. Both of his sisters have Masters’ degrees. During our interview, Dr. Walia told us that his parents have played a crucial role throughout his life.
Due to his fondness and talent for Mathematics, Dr. Walia chose to study Physics and Chemistry while in college. He received his Master’s degree in Geophysics and his Ph.D. in Physics at Guru Nanak Dev University. In 1997, he was promoted from Senior Technical Assistant to Senior Research Fellow as a result of his outstanding research performance at the university.
What is your Research in this offbeat and unconventional area?
Dr. Walia worked on the Earthquake Prediction Using Radon Signals project in the Department of Physics at Guru Nanak Dev University for 12 years. He was a Visiting Specialist in the Department of Geosciences, National Taiwan University (NTU), from 2003~2005. His wife is currently working on her Ph.D in the same department. Dr. Walia’s job at NTU involved the establishment of different continuous radon monitoring stations in both India and Taiwan for earthquake prediction research. He officially joined the NCREE in 2005 and began researching earthquakes, environmental pollution, Geochemistry, Geotectonics, and Thermo chronology.
Experience in Taiwan?
Professor Tsanyao Frank Yang, a man who has had a significant influence on Dr. Walia’s career, is in charge of the Gas Geochemistry Lab at the Department of Geosciences at NTU. Professor Yang invited Dr. Walia to come to Taiwan when he first met him in India during an international conference in October, 2002. In May of 2003, Dr. Walia joined Professor Yang’s group as a Visiting Specialist. The Walias originally planed on living in Taiwan just one year but have been here for a total of four years so far. Before Dr. Walia arrived in Taiwan, he had little knowledge of Taiwan, its people, or its culture. The Walias have grown to like Taiwan very much because of the kindness of its people, the convenience of the city, and an outstanding work atmosphere and research environment.
In 2005, Professor Yang further encouraged Dr. Walia to join the NCREE. Currently, Dr. Walia is conducting earthquake prediction studies using geochemical precursors. He is also studying the geochemistry of thermal springs and volcanoes, environmental pollution due to radioactive materials, and tracing the neo-tectonic fractures on surfaces using soil-gases. His supervisor and colleagues are always very nice to him. He feels comfortable with the harmonic relationship between management and workers in Taiwan. This is quite different from the situation in India.
Mrs. Walia claims that, Taiwanese people are the friendliest people in the world! The Walia’s have had many good experiences in Taiwan. They like everything here. Once a foreigner asked Dr. Walia, How long will you stay in Taiwan? Dr. Walia replied, “I could stay here all my life, no problem. Taipei is the safest city in the world!” The Walias feel at home in Taiwan. They don’t feel they are alone here. They have great love and respect for Taiwanese friends who always stood by them in time of need. Dr. Walia’s 7-year-old son can speak five languages, including Chinese, fluently. He studies in Taiwan’s public elementary school instead of the international school. Dr. Walia wants his son to learn even more Chinese.
The only thing that Dr. Walia feels uncomfortable is the language issue. With limited ability of Chinese, he usually has no choice but to give up attending most of the local scientific meetings since people there use Chinese only. And this has indeed prevented him from learning new knowledge and exchanging opinions with other experts.