“Think of working holidays as a form of eco-tourism, through which you can gain a deeper understanding of the places you go culturally and environmentally,” Wen says.
This weekend, a group of holiday seekers will visit Shanyuan Beach (杉原沙灘) in Fudafudak, administratively part of Fushan Village (富山), in Taitung County’s Beinan Township (卑南). A predominantly Amis fishing village, Fudafudak’s Chinese name is Cihtong (刺桐) and is where the controversial Miramar Resort Village construction project looms. Apart from engaging in marine conservation work, volunteers will learn traditional weaving techniques as well as how human activities and development have caused significant damage to the environment.
But this year, TEIA’s conservation activists will keep their opposition to the Miramar project mostly to themselves, Wen says.
“The antagonism between those who oppose the project and those who support it has become more serious recently. When we first came in 2009, we saw little sign of polarization. I think part of the reason is that the resort has taken a more active role in tribal affairs in recent years. To avoid deepening the sense of antagonism, we decided to let participants see and experience what has happened there and how it affects the village as a whole themselves,” she explains, adding that TEIA will continue monitoring how the construction work might be affecting the local environment and reef ecosystem.
Registration for this weekend’s program at Shanyuan is closed. But more holidays will come next month on Green Island, followed by Penghu and Pisilian in August. Each group is capped at 25 participants so as not to upset the delicate balance of the natural environment, and the cost doesn’t usually exceed a few thousand New Taiwan dollars. Those interested in the reef-check programs are required to have advanced scuba diving certification or equivalent experiences. For more information, call (02) 2933-2233 ext. 228 or 223, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ecowh.blogspot.tw.