Sun, Jun 15, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Yunlin children get eyeful on city visit

PAY IT FORWARD Children from disadvantaged areas often don't know about the possibilities that exist out there. The Dream Chasing Tour sought to remedy that

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students from Huwei Elementary School in Yunlin County learn how to use advanced medical equipment during a visit to National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

A group of "aspiring doctors" — all elementary school students from Yunlin County — donned crisp white doctor's coats yesterday and toured the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) clinical training center in Taipei to get their first taste of modern medical advances.

“Through the Dream Chasing Tour we hope to inspire children from rural areas to pursue professional careers by showing them the possibilities out there if they strive for academic excellence,” NTUH spokeswoman Tan Ching-ting (譚慶鼎) said.

The tour was the hospital’s latest effort to give back to the farming Yunlin community since it opened a branch there in 2001.

“Yunlin has the highest cancer mortality rate in Taiwan. Moreover, it is difficult for the economically disadvantaged county to attract high-quality medical personnel to the practices there — at least before the NTUH branch was opened,” Tan said.

In addition to economic disadvantages, Yunlin’s challenges have also spread to the education sector, said Liao Chia-ching (廖加靖), academic director at Lien-shi Elementary School.

“Compared with children in the city, students from rural areas lack both tangible and intangible resources to succeed academically,” Liao said. “The students who came today are among the most disadvantaged in our school and those with the least cultural stimulation. Most are from farming families and have never been to Taipei.”

“We hope the tour will open their eyes to the modern world and perhaps encourage them to pursue a future that involves some of the professions they have seen,” he said.

During the tour, the “little doctors” were referred to with “doctor” prefixes and shown top-notch medical training equipment including minimally invasive surgery tools and magnetic-resonance imaging.

The tour also included a trip to the observatory at Taipei 101.

Sixth-grade Angel Wong (翁采如), whose mother recently started chemotherapy for terminal cancer, said the tour made her want to become an ob-gyn doctor — something that had never occurred to her before.

Fifth-grader Tommy Shen (沈孟濰) said the tour strengthened his determination to become a physician.

“My mother has phlebothrombosis and I have always wanted to become a doctor so I could cure her. Coming to NTUH confirmed this dream. The doctors are so kind and patient, one day I want to be like that, too.”

Which was what Liao had hoped would happen.

“The object of the tour goes beyond encouraging students to work for better grades,” Liao said. “What was truly invaluable was the generosity of the medical professionals, an experience that will likely inspire them to appreciate other people’s kindness and help others in return.”

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