A revered educator and missionary from Michigan, Estell Judith Rae, could be granted an Alien Permanent Resident Card (APRC), also known as the Plum Blossom Card, for her four decades of devotion to English education in eastern Taiwan.
Citing her “outstanding devotion” to the region for the past 42 years, the National Immigration Agency’s Hualien Service Office is trying to help the Yu Shan Theological College and Seminary English instructor obtain a plum blossom card before her planned retirement in July in an effort to express its gratitude to what it said was “a selfless educator.”
The so-called “plum blossom cards” are granted to non-Taiwanese who make a remarkable contribution in areas such as religion, culture and human rights promotion, are classified as an outstanding talent or who rank highly in international competitions, Hualien Service Office director Chen Chun-hsuan (陳駿璿) said.
“The office is hoping to grant Estell the card before she retires and returns to her own country, as a way of honoring her decades of devotion to eastern Taiwan and making her future visits to, or stays in, Taiwan more convenient,” Chen said.
Chen said that Estell was “thrilled and delighted” upon learning of the office’s plan and even jokingly asked “what discounts does the [plum blossom] card offer?”
“Estell is a quiet and humble lady and Taiwan has become a second home to her,” Chen added.
After arriving in Taiwan in July 1971, Estell took up a teaching position at Taitung Christian School in Taitung County, where she met her husband, William Henry Ealell, who was also a missionary.
She later taught English and piano at Yu Shan Theological College and Seminary, while offering free Bible study lessons at Cheng Te High School and Hualien Young Women’s Christian Association in her spare time.
She and her husband also occasionally visited Aboriginal communities in the area, until he passed away in 1990. Despite her husband’s death, Estell did not stop her charitable work, earning her an award for outstanding foreign religious individuals from the Ministry of Interior in 2007.