Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Students in Hualien on mission to fund ukulele trip

By Hua Meng-ching and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Nine-year-old Lin Kuan-yu, right, plays the ukulele with schoolmates from Bebin Primary School in Hualien County on Monday. The children are raising money to attend a ukulele festival in Hawaii in July.

Photo: Hua Meng-ching, Taipei Times

A group of students at Bebin Primary School in Hualien County have been selling their calligraphy and making videos urging people to make financial contributions in an attempt to perform at a festival in Hawaii.

Teachers said the students are infatuated with the Hawaiian instrument, as are the their classmates in the 100-student school.

Bebin added ukulele lessons to the school curriculum in 2010 and the instrument quickly became popular among the children as it is portable, affordable and easy to learn, said Lin Chia-jung (林佳蓉), one of the school’s ukulele instructors.

“They have gained a great sense of achievement from learning to play the ukulele. They are quite adept at playing the instrument and have been invited to perform in many charitable events,” Lin said.

An opportunity presented itself when the school’s part-time ukulele teacher, Pi Tu (畢杜), wrote to the organizer of Hawaii’s annual Ukulele Festival and asked about the possibility of allowing the students to attend the event.

The organizer not only approved his request, but also invited the students to perform in the festival.

However, as about one-third of the students come from financially underprivileged or single-parent families and are unable to afford the plane ticket, the school has filed a request with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to solicit funds from the public so the children can make the trip.

School Principal Chou Chun-yu (周春玉) said the festival is now in its 44th year and is the most long-standing musical festival in the world.

“About 22 students will attend this year’s festival on July 20... Aside from helping these children raise the necessary funds for the trip, we also encourage them to work to make their dream possible, such as by selling their calligraphy or staging fundraising performances,” Chou said.

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