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Volunteer Service and Unlimited Learning: Learning through Service in College Student Club Service Projects in 2013

To encourage Taiwan’s college students to do volunteer work and thus to enrich their experience, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will help schools to establish Office of Learning through Service. The purpose will be to promote learning through volunteer service by developing projects and organizing student club activities.

The MOE will also encourage college student clubs to participate in volunteer work and other learning through service activities, including K-12 camp activities for schools in educational priority regions and the enhancement of primary and secondary student clubs by college student clubs. As for K-12 camp activities for schools in educational priority regions, the MOE subsidized 1,145 camp activities during the 2012 winter and summer break. 25,418 volunteers from various univ. and colleges took part in the camps and 67,456 students from 1,148 elementary and junior high schools participated. And for the 2013 winter break, the MOE subsidized 586 camp activities; 14,783 volunteers took part in the camps and 33,792 students from 594 elementary and junior high schools took part.

As for the enhancement of primary and secondary student clubs by college student clubs, in 2012 the MOE subsidized 87 colleges whose 461 student clubs helped to establish 498 projects. These projects in turn promoted the development of 503 elementary and junior high schools’ student clubs. 7,739 volunteers provided services and set up activities in which 28,764 elementary and junior high school students took part. The 2013 project is now accepting applications, and it is expected that the number of students will be greater than in 2012. The MOE has already committed NT$5 million to support 2013 project.

These college service projects and activities have an important educational purpose, and there are several very heartwarming stories coming out form it. For instance, National Taiwan Ocean University’s 2013 winter team went to a remote mountain area in Yilan during the last winter break (January 28-February 2, 2013) to teach reading and English and provide extracurricular tutoring and group activities for those young students who belong to indigenous tribes with insufficient resources. “The reason we chose to serve at the Four Seasons Elementary School’s Yingshih Campus (四季國小英士分校) in Yilan County was to show the indigenous peoples living in mountain communities our passion and enthusiasm. We wanted to provide positive leisure activities so that young local students could learn something besides in their textbooks. We also invited the tribal elders to explain some of their Atayal customs and others aspects of their cultures. Through this cultural exchange the students learned a lot and we also gained a greater understanding of the Atayal people, said team captain Zhu Pei-xuan (朱珮萱).

Another example is the 2013 Digital Creativity Winter Camp, which was called the Xiang Feng Cold Front (翔風寒流) (held January 22-24, 2013, and shown in the photo), conducted by Hungkuang University’s Digital-Skills Group (弘光科技大學數位技能研習社). The camp’s leader, He Yu-zhen (賀宇振), said: “Because the schools we served last year were so enthusiastic, the number of our volunteers jumped from 60 to 125 this year. We were happy to put all we had to help those who really needed through the activities we provided. In return we gained a wonderful sense of self-esteem, and felt that we had come to understand the true value of life. Volunteering service should be an important goal in our lives.”Chen Ming-guo (陳明國), the Extracurricular Activities Section Chief, also said:“We provide winter and summer camps here at Hungkuang University every year. We enable our fellow students to learn how to really serve others by letting them take part in these public volunteer service activities, and so we will continue to run these very meaningful programs.”

In order to emphasize the importance of learning through volunteer service, the MOE has decided to include the extent of service learning achievements as a key element. And it will be a key reference for site visit, evaluation assessment index and related subsidies, thereby encouraging Taiwan’s college students to participate in volunteer work as a way of helping others and further enriching themselves.