600 overseas volunteers to teach English in remote areas

2018/07/03 15:11:30 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
600 overseas volunteers to teach English in remote areas

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) A total of 600 native English-speaking youths of ethnic Chinese descent will soon be sent to schools in Taiwan's rural areas to serve as English-teaching volunteers for two weeks to reduce the learning gap between urban and rural areas.

At a ceremony to open this year's program on Tuesday, Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) praised the volunteers from America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Belize who will be sent to 81 elementary and middle schools across Taiwan.

In his address, Chen lauded the volunteers' spirit in giving back to Taiwan as he believes volunteering is something people must do in life.

He recalled that when he was a university student at National Taiwan University studying to become an epidemiologist, he visited rural parts of Taiwan to teach local children how to brush their teeth and do exercise to stay healthy.

"When we got back to Taipei, we received heartwarming letters from these children who thanked us for our help," he said.

"Your dedication will be the most honest communication of friendship and love. It's meaningful to enlighten the children and have unforgettable memories."

The annual program, organized by the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC), the government agency in charge of liaising with ethnic Chinese and communities abroad, was launched in 2006 and is now in its 13th year.

The volunteers are currently undergoing a week of training on teaching English that will last until Friday before being sent to 81 elementary and middle schools in 16 counties and cities across Taiwan to teach English for two weeks.

They will be present at English learning camps being held at the schools from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays during those two weeks.

They will then conclude their one-month visit by touring around the country between July 21 to 28.

Allen Wang (王荷白), a 17-year-old high school sophomore from Houston whose father is from Yingge in New Taipei and his mother is from Taipei, said he will be happy to be helping local schoolchildren sharpen their English skills.

"The experience will be very valuable and will help improve my Chinese," he said.

Wang, who will be serving at Da Keng Elementary School (大坑國小) in Taichung, said he is looking forward to tasting delicious Taiwanese food and gaining some weight during the process.

Eighteen-year-old Los Angeles native Tiffany Liao (廖思婷) said she previously served as an interpreter for Taiwanese athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles in 2015, which led her to serve as an English volunteer in Taiwan this year.

Liao, whose father is from Taipei and her mother is from Tainan, said she wants to teach Taiwanese children basic dialogue to make them fall in love with the language.

She will be serving at Fang-liao Elementary School (枋寮國小) in Pingtung County.

According to OCAC, a total of 4,245 overseas volunteers have participated in the annual program as of 2017. The program has so far benefited more than 30,639 students in rural parts of Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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