Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Students share stories of helping Chinese refugees

By Hua Meng-jing  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students from National Dong Hwa University's Department of Indigenous Cultures held a seminar at the university on Tuesday to share their experiences of helping poor Chinese refugees living in northern Thailand.

"Compared with us, these people are living in squalor," said Chen Tsui-chen (陳翠臻), leader of the 12-member group. "They have no classrooms or qualified teachers. Everyday things to us are like treasure to them."

There are approximately 10,000 Chinese refugees living in Chiang Mai Province. To help them, the Dong Hwa students taught courses in science, Mandarin, mathematics, sign language, painting and physical education. They also brought along 3 tonnes.

"Used toys or dolls from Taiwanese kids were really appreciated by the kids there," Chen said.

Two members of the group were junior high school teachers, while the rest were Dong Hwa students. They left for Chiang Mai on June 30 for three weeks of volunteer work.

Chen said that it took the group six months to find the cash to support their volunteer work.

"We collected NT$180,000, of which NT$80,000 came from donations and NT$100,000 from the Cabinet's National Youth Commission," she said.

Chen said that learning Mandarin was the best way to help the refugees improve their life because they would be able to pass a local tour guide test and become a Mandarin-speaking tour guide. Working as a tour guide would help them improve the standard of living for their families.

Chen said that the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission offers a few opportunities for foreign students to come to Taiwan for further education. However, qualified candidates must first pass exams.

"Most of them study for more than 12 hours a day," Chen said. "They believe that if they work hard, they will have a chance."

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