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Taiwan's Overseas Alternative Service Recruits Attend Opening Ceremony

Taiwan's civilian-based diplomacy continues to thrive, as the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) launched its second annual opening ceremony for the Overseas Alternative Service program.

Thirty-five young men are being sent to work in Taiwan's technical and medical missions in allied countries as an alternative to Taiwan's compulsory two-year military service. This is being done in an effort to expand Taiwan's role in the diplomatic arena while contributing to international society.

ICDF Secretary General Yang Tzu-pao congratulated the new recruits and urged them to foster a sense of cooperation, equality, and open-mindedness in their host countries. He also told the audience that he was very excited about the program and sees it as pivotal in developing new overseas personnel. Yang reiterated the underlying philosophy of the Overseas Alternative Service at the ceremony.

"The first is to help friendly countries in elevating their agricultural and medical skills, thus bringing them a better life," he said.

"The second is to broaden and nurture the minds of young Taiwanese people who possess international views, and train them for future service," he added.

Another keynote speaker was Mr. Liu, Director of Economic and Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), who lauded the men for their youth, idealism, and energy. Liu encouraged the new recruits to be creative and not to be afraid of developing their own styles.

"These new recruits are Taiwan's diplomatic seedlings," Liu told the audience. "I look forward to watching them grow."

Chosen from a pool of well-qualified applicants, the recruits receive intensive training in technical and academic specialties as well as language-proficiency training in either English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. Afterwards, they are sent to the missions in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, or Central and South America.

Currently, the program sends recruits to 23 allied countries, an increase of two from 2001.

After the recruits receive basic military training, the ICDF assumes control and gives them 12 weeks of specialized training. This includes medical and agricultural professional training(45 hours), language training (201 hours), and general course training (108 hours).

The doctors and nurses from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital provide medical training for the recruits, while the National Training Institute for Farmers Organizations provides the agricultural instruction.

Recruits receive extensive language training by faculty from the College of Foreign Languages and Literature at Tamkang University. They also attend general courses, conducted jointly by the ICDF and MOFA, on international politics and diplomacy, administration techniques and rules, and on tips for acclimatizing in their new country.

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  • Date:2002/8/20