Cover Story

Taitung Service Learning : A Journey of Love and Care


Campus Newsletter / Cover Story


Dedicated to encouraging students to participate in social service proactively, Chung Chi College organises local and non-local service-learning programmes every summer, allowing students to learn about and reflect on social issues and self-development through their interaction with neighbourhood and community service providers. Given that the pandemic wave continued to subside from the first half of 2023, the Taitung Community Service-Learning Programme was held successfully in July with the support of various parties. The journey started with a warm welcome from the locals. Sixteen Chung Chi students from different departments were divided into four groups, each of which provided services and experienced local culture and lifestyle in two of the three local communities, namely Luye Township’s Yongan Community and Ruiyuan Community or Guanshan Township’s Kaadaadaan (Dianguang) Tribe in Taitung County. Their effort rewarded them with an extraordinary and meaningful summer vacation.



From “Foreigners” to “the Homegrown”


Taitung 2626 Farm Market was the first large-scale event the students joined. It is held at the Wuling Green Tunnel, attracting tourists worldwide to visit and buy economical and high-quality local agricultural products and handicrafts. The students participated in the 2626 Market service for two weeks. To raise funds for “Ruiyuan xiao xue tang (Ruiyuan Little Learners)”, they created a series of products for sale including postcards themed on the views and street snacks of Hong Kong, handmade egg waffles, and Hong Kong specialty beverage, as well as artistic paintings and henna painting services. The students unleashed their creativity, and communicated with local people, through which they could understand the lives of different people and try to integrate into the local community. The market service allowed the students to connect with Taitung. They introduced the characteristics of Hong Kong to the locals on the one hand, and shared Yongan specialties with tourists worldwide to promote Taitung on the other, transforming themselves from foreigners to the “homegrown” at last.


The students’ mural creation added colour to the farm glass wall


From “Sixteen Individuals” to “One”


The event “Ba ge ye lu lai ban zhuo (Banquet of Eight Wild Deer)” allows participants worldwide to enjoy a variety of cuisines from different communities and tribes in Luye Township at an affordable price. This time, it was fortunate that the students were able to join the event with more than 200 participants, which was the largest scale compared to the event held in previous years. Despite the hot weather, the students collaborated to prepare for the event meticulously, such as setting tables and chairs, selecting pineapples, cleaning tableware, and decorating the venue.


Facing difficulties like heavy workload, different work styles among individuals, and accidental injuries, the students might inevitably feel discouraged. However, thanks to the care from local staff, the help from teachers, and the encouragement among peers, the students were empowered and motivated to embrace challenges. Many students reflected that although this service was one of the most arduous items in their service-learning journey, it provided them with a precious opportunity to experience the significance of teamwork, especially engaging in such a large-scale event.


From “Unknown” to “Satisfied”


Each group underwent new service items through the “Yongan Environmental Education Working Holiday”. Aspiring to improve the equipment of the 2626 Market, the students learned to perform carpentry and provided related services: starting from measurement, wood cutting, and material transportation, to constructing and installing outdoor platforms in Wuling Green Tunnel, as well as assembling lighter stall trucks for the market. By listening to the local mentors’ guidance and asking questions actively, the students started to learn from zero and experienced the importance of never giving up. They were proud to see their handmade stall trucks being used at the market.


Apart from carpentry, some groups also participated in the mural creation at Liyu Farm in Yongan. They drew colourful objects with local natural features on the plain glass wall. The students felt satisfied and grateful to have been able to give this “gift”, the completed mural, to the locals.


The students were making stall trucks for the use of the 2626 Market.


From “Strange” to “Familiar”


The Amis, the indigenous tribe in Taitung, believe that “both the elderly and children need companionship”. Four groups of Chung Chi students were divided into two teams to organise and participate in services for the elderly and children separately. One team was responsible for the elderly service in Yongan and Dianguang. Related services included introducing Hong Kong culture to local senior citizens at the elderly centres, making handicrafts with them, providing massage and voluntary cleaning services for the homes of the elderly, and facilitating the elderly to shop at convenience stores, among others. In spite of the generation gap and language barriers, it did not prevent the students from developing a close friendship with the local elders. Thanks to the active participation and sincere sharing of the elderly, the students could learn about different traditional folk cultures from them, and also felt loved and cared for in a foreign land.


The other team serving Ruiyuan and Yongan focused on the local children services. During the event “Ruiyuan xiao xue tang shu qi ying (Ruiyuan Little Learners’ Summer Camp)” planned and held by Chung Chi students, children made good use of their creativity when joining STEM-themed games and competitions in the morning, and played Hong Kong nostalgic games in the afternoon. In the subsequent event “Yongan ling lu jing sheng huo shi jian ying (Yongan Net Zero Green Life Experience Camp)”, Chung Chi students led student participants from all over Taiwan to experience the beauty of nature in Yongan, for example, Yulong Spring visit, tree climbing, fire making, archery, and camping, among others. The students were also delighted by the innocent smiles of the local children.


During the “Yongan Net Zero Green Life Experience Camp”, the students played games with children from all over Taiwan.


From “Experience” to “Inspiration”


In addition to active participation in various services, the students also joined a series of experiential activities to learn about local culture, appreciate the natural ecology, and listen to the stories of local people. In Yongan, they participated in the handover ceremony of Shengan Palace, watched sika deer and hot air balloons, underwent the “Yongan Nature School Experience”, and visited Yulong Spring. In Ruiyuan, they learned to practise farming, tidy the “Floral Lantern House”, and make Hakka traditional food. In Dianguang, they joined lots of traditional cultural and ecological activities including using bamboo cannons, roasting meat with arrow bamboo, making “a bai ” (special rice dumplings of the Amis), and fishing, among others.


Through the service-learning journey, not only did the students learn from services, but they also enjoyed mutual learning with the locals through exchanges and interactions.


From “Interviewers” to “Learners”


Researching on a social issue of Taitung was another learning goal of the students during the service-learning trip. Based on the topics selected by each group, they interviewed different stakeholders to comprehend and analyse the issues from divergent perspectives. It also gave them an opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the interviewees’ stories. From the sharing by the community officers, the students felt their love for their hometown, realised the significance of taking attempts courageously, and learned that passion and enthusiasm were key elements for overcoming obstacles; from the elders’ sharing, they recognised the importance of help among neighbours in communities, and discovered a simple way to gain happiness; from the interaction with a grandparent-led family, the students understood the need for mutual respect and tolerance between the old and the young; from the conversation with the young adults returning to hometowns, they were inspired to think of the possibility of integrating traditional culture and modern promotion techniques in community development, as well as understand that young people have to bear the responsibility of their community or tribe inheritance. What the students learned about and got inspired by, like harbour beacons, would guide them at different stages of their life.


Taitung is a place full of possibilities where the students seemed to be given incredible courage to make ceaseless attempts. Sixteen Chung Chi students kept challenging themselves during the fifteen-day service-learning trip and forged a close friendship with the locals, classmates, and teachers. Instead of saying goodbye, the journey ended with “Aray ”, which means “thank you” from the Amis. The students and local people hope to memorise all the unforgettable moments wholeheartedly and look forward to the next time they gather again. The tour coach once again drove along the beautiful coastline of Taitung. The difference was not just the direction, but also the change in the students’ minds. Driven by the spirit of the “Eight Wild Deer”, which refers to a “fool” with reference to “バカ” in Japanese and represents the locals’ perseverance and courage to try, the students would continue to learn from providing services and grow from learning.


Student Reporter Lee Ka Lai

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