Amid jovial laughter and heartfelt greetings, 78 ladies of all ages from the Taipei International Women’s Club (TIWC) gathered last Tuesday to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Ox at a special luncheon featuring the Lucky Money God.
“We are indeed like sisters here,” said Ling Chang (張玲玲), 80, who has been a member of the TIWC for 30 years, recalling the times when she was a young dancer performing at charity events with another member, Jane Lin (林改莊), now 90.
Founded in September 1951 by Roberta Auburn, a wife of a USAID officer, TIWC has become one of the most important all-female charity groups with the foreign community.
Its principal goals are the promotion of education, cultural exchange and philanthropy.
“The club was established with the purpose of allowing foreigners, especially women, to give something back to Taiwan. The demographics of the membership might have changed throughout the years, but the goal remains the same,” Chang said.
She said the club was originally composed mostly of diplomats’ wives and wealthy Taiwanese women.
But the number of foreign members quickly dwindled after the US severed relations with Taiwan in 1979.
“What we do here at the club is a form of soft diplomacy by holding activities with women from other nations and learning about each other’s cultures,” TIWC president Ruby Sung (宋美玉) said, adding that her organization was an affiliate of the Washington-based General Federation of Women’s Club.
Ida Meyer, the wife of the South African representative to Taiwan, said she had learned a lot about leadership skills and how to motivate others in her role as the first-vice-president of the women’s club.
This year, the goal of the club’s social service committee is to raise at least NT$400,000 in donations to be given to the TWIC Education Foundation, the Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders and to pay school fees for 410 elementary students in Taitung County.
The donation will be presented at an annual Charity Gala in April.