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Overseas Volunteers Spreading the Seeds of Peace

The ICDF hosted the 6th Overseas Volunteers Opening Ceremony and Information Session, which welcomed 16 Taiwanese citizens into the international volunteer program and gave them a glimpse of what to expect in the months to come.

The ceremony included remarks from the ICDF Secretary General Yang Tzu-Pao, as well as from the Ambassadors of both Panama and Costa Rica. The Secretary General of the Chinese Relief Association also delivered a speech.

Secretary General Yang mentioned the importance of volunteerism in Taiwan and singled out the new volunteers as being extra special:

"To be an overseas volunteer is even more important since it is a major indicator showing that Taiwan would like to be more deeply involved and that we will certainly do our duties as a member in the international community," he told the volunteers.

One of the distinguished guests was His Excellency Mr. Oscar Alvarez, the Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica, who expressed his gratitude and support for the new volunteers. He mentioned the program as a prime example of the solidarity between Taiwan and Central American republics:

"Both of our countries value human rights, freedom, and democracy," the Ambassador told the volunteers.

Calling the volunteer program a real expression of relations between the ROC and Central America, he added:

"We are friends and partners who are building a future in international development at the dawn of a new millennium."

His Excellency Mr. Jose Antonio Domiquez, the Ambassador of the Republic of Panama, also lauded the program and thanked the ICDF for receiving one of the biggest missions - six volunteers:

"Take the opportunity to learn the customs of the people, and give all the knowledge you can, for this will broaden your horizons, " he told the volunteers.

The countries to which the ICDF volunteers are dispatched include cooperating nations that have formal diplomatic relations with the ROC, as well as other countries that, despite the absence of formal diplomatic relations, wish to cooperate with the ROC in economic development and in the upgrading of substantive bilateral relations.

Any activities that will improve the recipient country's economic development are considered within the scope of the ICDF volunteers' mission, including social and educational services, vocational training, rural development, and economic activities.

ICDF volunteers serve for two years, assisting in technical and medical missions and working at the grassroots level of community development. They not only bring Taiwan's practical economic development experience to nations around the world, but also participate in rich cultural exchange, bringing glimpses of Chinese culture to faraway locales, and themselves absorbing and learning from the new cultures in which they are volunteering.

Another important address at the ceremony was given by the Secretary General of the Chinese Relief Association, Miss Ge Yu-Chin, who has attended most opening ceremonies since the program started in 1996. She urged the volunteers to cherish the experience, stating:

"Being an overseas volunteer may detain you from earning money for almost two years, but this experience would certainly paint a bright color on your canvas of life, which is much more meaningful. I really admire you for contributing to the international community. You are spreading the seeds of peace around the world."

Apart from giving the host nations urgently needed assistance, the volunteers also gain valuable life and work experience. Their interaction with their fellows in host countries facilitates mutual understanding, fosters lasting relationships, and ultimately strengthens international relationships.

Basing its approach on America's venerable Peace Corps, the first team of overseas volunteers were sent to the Kingdom of Swaziland to perform consulting and assistance services in 1996. Since then, the ICDF has recruited 72 volunteers to join various projects. Their footsteps and legacy are scattered all around Africa, Central and Southern America, the Caribbean and the Asia Pacific.

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  • Date:2002/9/2