NTU Overseas Youth Corps Completed
Its Fruitful Service Mission to Northern Thailand
From February 5th to February 14th, Dean of the Office of Student Affairs, Dr. Joyce Yen Feng led an "Overseas Youth Corps" comprised of 16 students from various departments on a service mission to Northern Thailand where they visited a number of ethnic Chinese middle schools, elementary schools and community centers to launch the "2009 Northern Thailand International Youth Service and Study Activities" and "2009 Children's Camp for Northern Thailand Chinese Schools." Mr. Hang-Tong Chou, Director of the Overseas Student Advising Section, served as the leader of the Corps, and Professor Wen-Li Chin served as its advisor. While the Youth Corps was in Thailand, its members paid a special visit to General Mao-Hsiu Chen and listened to his narration of the history
of the refugee Chinese communities in Northern Thailand. Benefitting from General Chen's introduction, the Youth Corps from NTU was ready to commence its service work to the Chinese communities.
The "2009 NTU Overseas Youth Corps" arrived in Chiang Mai on February 5th. The Corps members were warmly received by Mr. Jia-Shou Duan, Deputy Director of the Northern Thailand Cultural and Educational Center, then took a four-hour car ride directly to Chiang Rai.
On February 7th, with the participation of various cultural and educational leaders from the Chinese communities in Northern Thailand, the activities of the "2009 International Youth Service and Learning Camp in Northern Thailand" were set into motion in a high school auditorium. In her opening speech, Dr. Joyce Yen-Feng gave an introduction of the content of the activities, and delivered a discourse on "how does a youth participate in volunteer service work?" Mr. Ssu-Sung Liu, Chairman of the Northern Thailand Cultural and Educational Promotion Association, Mr. Yu-Kuo Pai, Dean of the Confucius College, and Mr. Tong-Yi Huang, Principal of the Jian-hua Integrated High School in turn delivered sentimental and passionate speeches of gratitude, in which they emphasized that educational work could not be done with a mentality that was self righteous and complacent. Rather, the educational workers must be open-minded, kept abreast of international developments, promote cultural exchange and stay in tune with the progress of time as this is the sacred mission for them.
The study activities were conducted in a pleasant atmosphere between NTU faculty and students and faculty/students from Chiang Rai's Royal University, and the Empress Dowager University. All participants experienced the embodiment of peace, knowledge exchange, sharing of feelings and the fusion of emotions. Participants vehemently discussed how to cope with the new tidal waves, as Taiwan faces a transition period, Northern Thailand has its opportunities and challenges, and all are confronted with the issue of the rise of China.
In that evening, the programs of the "International Night" were very multifarious. NTU students performed the opening dance in the square of the Cultural Center to stir up the atmosphere, then they sang Teresa Teng's familiar songs and invited the audience to join them. A Chinese student from Chiang Rai's Royal University dressed up in the traditional costumes of the Dai Minority tribe and performed a very special ethnic dance, followed by students from Man Hinteh's Da-tung High School who did a glamorous Thai dance. Many local residents were attracted by these performances and gathered in the square. To make them even happier, NTU students provided a riddle solving game to the audience and showered them with gifts in the form of stationeries. The interactive "First Dance" heated up the atmosphere to a boiling point, and the balloon stepping game brought the night's program to a climax. After the great party was over, NTU students offered traditional Taiwanese snacks such as pineapple cakes and the iron eggs of Tang-sui to share with the local residents. Overall, mutual understanding was greatly enhanced and there were very warm interaction.
On the second day (May 8th), all members of the Corps went to the Mantang Aka Village to perform community service. The job at hand was to help the villagers to build a makeshift recreational center. In addition to providing subsidies for the construction materials, NTU students worked hand in hand to fill the land, transport stones, and build houses, and completed the preparation work for the square of the recreational center. After the work was done, NTU students distributed stationery goods which they raised to the kids, and shared glutinous rice balls with the villagers to celebrate the traditional Lantern Festival.
Another important activity was to go to the Chung Hsin Middle School in Chiang Rai's Piao-pai Village to launch the activities for the "2009 Children's Camp for Northern Thailand Chinese Schools." In the afternoon of the 9th, the Corps members departed for Chiang Rai. When the cars were traveling on the ridge of the mountains, the passengers were able to see mountains looming in the horizon, and also see patches of green terraced fields scattered in the vicinity. The special feeling derived from meandering through the narrow mountainous roads in a jerky car ride left an indelible impression on the Corps members, making them appreciate a different kind of tranquil wilderness.
When we arrived at the Piao-pai Village, we were greeted by a bunch of cute kids who lined up to welcome us. As we were repeatedly greeted with warm receptions, we could not but wonder would the gifts that we brought be sufficient to meet their fervent expectations? Principal Lee and the teachers took us around to see the school. Chung-hsin Middle School was a small but intact school with a lovely campus. While we were being taken on a tour, we discussed among ourselves what would be the best way to set up quizzes for the kids. So the preparation work for the Children's Camp was under way.
The theme of the first Children's Camp for Northern Thailand Chinese schools was "touring around the world." As the kids participating in the Camp were fourth graders to sixth graders, so when we designed the activities, we hoped that the kids would be able to learn some geographical and basic scientific knowledge through their participation, and display a team spirit while broadening their vista.
The camp activities were scheduled to start at 8 a.m. In order to make advance preparations, we divided up into two teams to set up the playground and the auditorium. The children arrived at the square in front of the auditorium on time. We asked the children to line up in Chinese. In an instant the older kids volunteered to take command. Maybe the kids weren't used to taking lengthy orders in Chinese, so they provided bi-lingual services to one another. In a little while, three reporting formations were quickly established, all the kids queued up in their lines waiting quietly to report.
After the Principal of Chung Hsing Middle School and teachers of NTU bestowed their warm blessings on the teams, the Children's Camp for Northern Thailand Chinese Schools officially went about its business. We first introduced the older kids who served as team leaders, then we took the kids into the square to commence warm-up exercises. In the process of these exercises, the kids must follow the moderator's order to imitate the funny movements of the moderator while they were being tested for their mathematical ability. The kids all had great fun and broke into hilarious laughter which attracted local residents to gather and watch, and the whole village seemed to liven up due to the incessant waves of loud laughter.