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Benefitting Self and Others: International Volunteer Society Celebrated its 10 th Anniversary
Over the past ten years, NTHU’s International Volunteer Society has carried out projects in a variety of countries, including Nepal and Tanzania. Quite a few of its members have already graduated, many of whom recently returned to NTHU to celebrate their alma mater’s anniversary. Looking back on their overseas experience, many said that even though the practical benefits they brought to the people they were supposed to help may have been quite limited, they themselves got a lot out of the experience of serving others. In fact, many said that the few short weeks they spent as overseas volunteers has had a major impact on their outlook and the course of their lives.
 
In 2007, the first batch of volunteers went to Nepal, Indonesia, China, and Malaysia, and in later years this was expanded to include such nations as Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ghana, and Belize. Designed to meet the local needs, the Society’s projects have included education, health care, hygiene, and documenting local cultural history. By 2016, a total of 519 NTHU students have participated in such projects, and an additional 62 are getting ready to ship out this summer.
 
Jackie Cheng, co-founder of Gogolook, went to Indonesia in 2007 as a member of the International Volunteer Society. His message for those interested in participating in an overseas project is that, in addition to matching the right people with the right project, it’s essential to give due consideration to sustainability. In his experience, it’s a pity that lots of college students who go overseas totally overlook this factor, with the result that all they leave behind is a half-built cement wall or a few unusable second-hand computers.
 
 
Kao Peiting was a member of the International Volunteer Society in 2011, and is currently a psychologist at the Kid’s Bookhouse, a nonprofit organization based in Taitung. In her view, it’s essential to establish a cooperative relationship with those you are trying to help, and to avoid regarding them as merely recipients of handouts. Quoting another volunteer, Ju Zhigeng added, “only when the local people solve the problem themselves, can the problem really be solved.”
 
 
The International Volunteer Society was established ten years ago by President Hocheng Hong, who at that time was the dean of student affairs. He is very pleased to see the Society’s commendable achievements, and to hear that so many graduates have benefitted from their participation in it. When encouraging students to expand their range of experience, he often exhorts them to “walk ten thousand miles, read ten thousand books, and serve ten thousand people.”
 
President Hocheng said that Jackie Cheng once told him that the experience he gained as an international volunteer has been instrumental in his becoming a successful entrepreneur. During his two sojourns overseas, Cheng acquired a number of valuable skills, such as the ability to formulate a strategy, make detailed plans, and to understand people of different cultural background—none of which could be easily learned while sitting in the classroom.
 
 
President Hocheng gave a special word of thanks to the many groups and individuals who have served as bridges between the volunteers and their host communities, including a number of Catholic priests who provided assistance in Tanzania, and a Buddhist organization which helped to coordinate several projects in Indonesia.
 
Also present at the ten-year reunion of the International Volunteer Society were Wang Hsiao-fang, the founding director of Volunteer Link Taiwan; reporter Tsao Funian; freelance photographer Weng Ziheng; and Liao Cheng-yu and Yen Yu-Tzu, the co-directors of Let We Care, a social service organization bringing together youths and senior citizens.
 

Former members of NTHU’s International Volunteer Society, along with director of extracurricular activities Professor Michael Lu (back row, first from left,) and Professor Wang Jyun-cheng (back row, third from left), who helped establish the Society.

Former members of NTHU’s International Volunteer Society, along with director of extracurricular activities Professor Michael Lu (back row, first from left,) and Professor Wang Jyun-cheng (back row, third from left), who helped establish the Society.


The International Volunteer Society’s reunion was attended by former deans of student affairs: senior vice president of academic affairs Professor Chen Sinn-wen (front row, fifth from left); President Hocheng Hong (front row, fourth from left); and dean of general affairs Professor Ping-Chiang Lyu (front row, third from left).

The International Volunteer Society’s reunion was attended by former deans of student affairs: senior vice president of academic affairs Professor Chen Sinn-wen (front row, fifth from left); President Hocheng Hong (front row, fourth from left); and dean of general affairs Professor Ping-Chiang Lyu (front row, third from left).

Participant at an education camp held in Belize in 2015.

Participant at an education camp held in Belize in 2015.

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