Tzu Chi Philippines became part of a week long itinerary of ten college students from Taiwan in their overseas bridging program on July 11. Organized by Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council, program aims to foster good relations between the Chinese communities of Taiwan and the Philippines.
During their visit to Tzu Chi, the students learned about the Buddhist organization’s response following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). They also tried out processing recycled PET bottles at the Tatalon recycling center.
College students from Taiwan on July 11 traveled to the Philippines for a weeklong tour to foster amicable relations between the Chinese communities of the two countries.
Ten students, each representing their own colleges and universities, joined the Taiwan Youth and Overseas Expatriate Building Program in the Philippines. Initiated by Taiwan’s Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC), the program aims to help Taiwanese youth learn more about Chinese communities around the world and their culture.
In the Philippines, OCAC is represented by the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Huang Fong-chiao served as the students’ liaison.
“Through this trip, the students will further understand the life of the local Chinese community. Most of them are touring the Philippines for the first time, so they’re not familiar with the local environment,” said Huang.
For the first leg of the tour, they visited the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City, the heart of Tzu Chi in the country. Lending their ears, the students learned a great deal about the foundation’s quick and decisive response in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013. Among the focus of the talk are DaAi Tech’s eco-friendly blankets and Jing Si multipurpose foldable platforms. Both items have seen widespread use among the Yolanda survivors.
As these items are made out of PET bottles, the talk also highlighted the impact of recycling. For this, they visited the Tzu Chi recycling center at Barangay Tatalon, not far from Jing Si Hall. Here, the students were given the chance to process plastic bottles, stripping them of the caps and labels.
Tu Yao-yuan has seen Tzu Chi recycle before. The elementary school he once attended in Taiwan was next to a local Tzu Chi recycling center. His only regret was that his school work prevented him from sparing time. He hopes that, one day, he can join Tzu Chi as a volunteer.
“A volunteer must have a sincere heart. As long as you have this, everyone can try to be a [Tzu Chi] volunteer,” said Tu, representing National Cheng Kung University in Tainan.
Hua Fang-ling, representing National Taiwan University in Taipei, admitted that her general view of the Philippines changed upon learning about Tzu Chi. She saw how the Buddhist foundation has helped and changed the lives of countless families in need. Upon returning home, she said she would encourage her friends to participate in this overseas program.
“I see that the Philippines is ‘advanced.’ It’s totally different. People here are optimistic and work hard,’” said Hua.
After Tzu Chi, the students will proceed with the next leg of their tour. Their itinerary includes a courtesy call with the city mayor of Manila and a dialogue with Filipino-Chinese civic groups.