Wed, Jan 15, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Single mother, 50, wins ‘intern’ prize on islands

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The three finalists in a contest to become an intern and tourism ambassador for the Mariana Islands appear at a press conference in Taipei yesterday. Dance teacher Sunny Lin, center, was the final winner.

Photo: CNA

Age proved to be nothing but a number in a contest for an “internship” opportunity in the Northern Mariana Islands yesterday, as a 50-year-old single mother beat two younger candidates to win a free trip to the northwestern Pacific islands next month.

Sunny Lin (林詠晴), a yoga teacher and triathlon athlete, was the oldest of three candidates competing for the internship in the Marianas, along with 26-year-old Jenny Tu (屠潔), an event host, and 27-year-old Rex Lin (林世旺), a swimming coach.

Sunny Lin overwhelmed judges and the audience in the contest’s talent competition yesterday, with her singing and dance performance of the song Hafa Adai, which means “hello” in the native language of the Marianas. Her son accompanied her on the banjo, while three of her friends performed the dance with her.

“When I signed up for the competition, I saw the candidates must be at least 18 years of age and a Taiwanese citizen. I said: ‘Great, I am 18 already,’” she said. “I am 50 years old, but I have the attitude and energy of a 20-year-old.”

Winning the internship was one of several goals Sunny Lin set for herself when she turned 50 last year.

In July, she graduated with a masters degree in exercises and health science from National Taipei University of Nursing. She went hiking on Mount Fuji in August and completed a bike tour around Taiwan in September last year. She also finished a triathlon race in October last year and took her two children to run a marathon in Taroko Gorge.

“I had nothing to do in December. Then I saw this [internship in the Marianas] and signed up for it. It turned out to be the most grueling race I have ever competed in in my entire life,” she said.

She said the most tiring part of the race was to persuade her middle-aged friends to vote for her in the online competition. She eventually had between 400 and 500 friends who voluntarily campaigned for her.

According to the Marianas Visitors Authority office in Taipei, the one-week “internship” will allow the winner to live in a holiday resort for free, serve as event instructor at the resort, taste local cuisine, go on a jungle tour and all types of water sports in all three Northern Mariana Islands.

The intern’s prize was valued at NT$300,000, apart from getting paid NT$60,000 for working at the resort.

The authority’s marketing manager in Taipei, Milane Tsai (蔡璧如), said the final three candidates were selected from 398 participants. The winner of the competition is required to leave for the islands before March 31 this year.

“The authority’s managing director [Perry Tenorio] was very impressed on a visit to Taiwan, which is not far from the Mariana Islands. That was why we launched the ‘Dream Job’ campaign in Taiwan this year,” Tsai said.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is an associate of the US and consists of Saipan, Tinian and Rota islands.

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