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Taiwan's First Diplomatic Recruits Receive Warm Words from Chen

Published in the Taiwan News

By Haley Chang
Staff Reporter

President Chen Shui-bian offered words of encouragement to the recruits of Taiwan's first Overseas Alternative Service program and 18 new volunteers, saying that entering the international community, participating in international cooperation and shouldering international responsibilities are proper goals and also represent a commitment to Taiwan.

Chen's remarks were made during the ceremony at the International Cooperation and Development Fund where he briefed 18 local volunteers who will soon be dispatched to work in countries with which Taiwan has diplomatic relations. The 18 new volunteers brought to 74 the number the ICDF has recruited and dispatched through 2001 to nations in Africa, Central and South America, and the Eastern Caribbean and Asia-Pacific regions.

On the same occasion, Chen also presented flags to 37 conscripts who will work with Taiwan's overseas technical and agricultural mission groups as an alternative to compulsory military service.

"The overseas volunteer program and the Overseas Alternative Service program are benefiting from the strengths of the Taiwanese people, broadening our nation's international space, giving back to the international society and promoting our international position. This is worthy of our encouragement and should be valued," Chen said.

Citing statistics from the United Nations, Chen said that more than 25 percent of the citizens of developed countries have had the experience of working as volunteers.

The president also reiterated that Taiwan needs to step out, the government needs to step out, and Taiwanese society needs to step together onto a wider international stage.

"Compared to other advanced countries, our country has space for growth in volunteerism, and I hope we strive toward it together," he said.

Expressing his high expectations of all the volunteers and recruits, Chen said that the realization of the Overseas Alternative Service project has opened a window to broader participation in international cooperation, and also provided support for Taiwan's technical and medical service missions, thus expanding the positive results of technical cooperation.

Chen, shaking hands with each recruit as he walked down the staircase before leaving the ICDF, said to them "I'll visit you next year."

The recruits who participated in yesterday's flag-presenting ceremony were visibly excited about their imminent trips and missions.

Chen Wen-juei, who is slated for Gambia, said that he always had a dream to travel to Africa and he was really happy to learn about the alternative service.

Expressing his anticipation of seeing in person what kind of country Gambia is, Chen said that he will assist Taiwan's technical groups with some administrative work as well as with the maintenance of the computer systems.

Paco Wang, a graduate of physical therapy from National Yang Ming University, said that since military service is compulsory for all Taiwanese men, he might as well do something different.

"I can't wait to leave for Chad. I think the preparatory training is too long," Wang said.

Ovidio M. Pequeno, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tame and Principe, also gave a thumbs-up to the implementation of the alternative service program, saying that it will surely be of help to the bilateral relationship.

"It's significant that Taiwan has finally came up with the plan for its young people to be based in different countries and to help in the bilateral cooperation. Through exchange and cooperation, we'll be in a position to further develop our ties," Pequeno said, adding that there will be two young men going to his country.

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  • Date:2001/10/3