Ministry of Education-sponsored Overseas Internship Program Team helps Habitat for Humanity
Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE) established the Overseas Internship Program—which has a Chinese name meaning Building a Dream in the Sea of Learning—to give Taiwanese youth opportunities to develop an international perspective and mindset and the program has been implemented for many years. It encourages young Taiwanese to take advantage of their summer and winter vacations to go abroad and see the world, and let the world get to meet some outstanding young people from Taiwan.
A team of volunteers from Kun Shan University, led by Professor Jessica Leu, has been taking part in a related internship program with Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston (abbreviated below to Habitat Boston) each year for many years (except when the pandemic made it temporarily impossible), and Professor Leu has been recognized by the Ministry of Education for her dedication to this project. This year four bright students from the Department of Public Relations and Advertising at Kun Shan University participated in the project, the eighth team from the university to do so.
Cynthia Huang, Director of the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston hosted a lunchtime discussion on August 24 with Professor Leu and the students to affirm the dedicated work and success of this program. During their discussion, Professor Leu recalled how she was apprehensive when she initiated contact with Habitat for Humanity but then went on to work with this nonprofit organization every year. She explained that Habitat for Humanity has a mission to assist low-income local families have their own homes, built in a sustainable way.
During their two-month internship which offers university credits, the interns help with house construction and use their advertising and marketing expertise to make recommendations to Habitat for Humanity to help improve its operations. The four students that took part this year did so by utilizing their painting, crafts, public relations, and marketing activities skills. This included conducting a consumer survey for Habitat Boston to use the results of for future marketing of its ReStore thrift stores.
They also took the opportunity to host a Taiwan Day at the Habitat Boston ReStore store to introduce Taiwanese culture—night markets, city landmarks, and popular Taiwanese snacks—and some agricultural products to local Americans. The products, some shown in the photo, included handmade Honey Pomelo Jam, Honey Papaya Jam, Blueberry and Japanese Banana Jam, and Roselle Lemon Jam made by a gold medal-winning British jam maker with fruits from Tainan, a city in southern Taiwan, with organic certification. They’re usually sold at local farmer's markets.
The Kun Shan University Volunteer Internship is a successful example of the Overseas Internship Program of Taiwan’s Ministry of Education. It allows students to learn first-hand how American volunteer organizations operate, broadens their horizons and encourages their volunteering spirit. Over the years, the students from Kun Shan University have made a positive impression on Habitat Boston, and this year, Habitat for Humanity decided to set up a branch in Taiwan next year. This will further assist with building up friendship between the U.S. and Taiwan.
Director Huang encouraged the student volunteers from Kun Shan University to do further studies abroad in the future, so that they can extend the experience obtained from their internship and enrich themselves further. She also encouraged them to continue building and realizing their dreams abroad.