Having never been on an airplane nor seen the ocean before, five fourth-graders from Ping Deng Elementary School, the most remote school in Greater Taichung, were so moved by stories of -Penghu told by their teacher, Chen Yan-chih (陳彥誌) — who did his military service there — that they dreamed of visiting the island before their graduation two years ago and set about trying to save as much of their allowance as possible to make that dream come true.
However, a three-day journey to Penghu costs about NT$7,000 per person, an enormous amount for young students from families of meager means.
To help them fulfill their dream, Chen Yan-chih encouraged the five to try and save a fraction of their allowance, which he then gave to the Director of Counseling Lin Hsiao-yi (林曉儀) at the school for safekeeping.
One student, surnamed Chen, managed to save about NT6,000 by February, while the others, despite their best efforts, only saved between NT$1,000 and NT$2,000.
The student who had saved the least, Chan Tzu-chi (詹子驥), even decided to give up at one point and was only persuaded to continue after his friends insisted that “no one should be left out of the trip.”
To boost their savings, Chen Yan-chih and the students set up a small store at Wuling Farm in Miaoli County, after seeing crowds of visitors at the tourist site looking at cherry blossoms.
They sold handmade cards, black tea and snacks like meatball soup and rice dumplings to passing tourists, some of whom tipped them generously after learning about their goal.
One day of hard work earned them about NT$25,000, which added to their original savings meant the students now have enough money to embark on their long-awaited trip next month.
“We are very excited at realizing our goal together and we want to express our gratitude to those tourists who supported us. Because of you, we will finally see the ocean together,” Chen and the students said.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff Writer