Friday, May 13, 2022

Worthy Experiences in Taiwan (Part 3)

Time is the most valuable thing in life. Time can be spent wisely or foolishly. The choice is ours whether or not to make good use of the time we have. Our experiences are moments that turn into memories that we look back on, feel grateful for and cherish. Lately I have been reflecting on my experiences during the last six months in Taiwan. This is the third article about my amazing stay here.

On April 9, 2022, together with IofC friends in Taiwan, I came to watch and support the musical performance by Weichun, the daughter of Shoufeng and OuFang.  I remembered when I first met Weichun in 2012 at the Asia Pacific Youth Conference (APYC) in Japan, she was still a small child back then, but now with the support of her amazing parents she has grown into a smart and charming 13-year-old teenager! Weichun was inspired to give a violin concert, accompanied by Chen Shan, her friend on the cello, to raise funds for Ukrainian refugees staying in the IofC centre in Switzerland. She initiated this musical performance with her parents, friend and her friend’s parents, with the theme Playing for Peace. As Barack Obama said, “When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiatives, but also because we do things together.” This has been one of my memorable moments in Taiwan!

I was also excited to join OuFang, Shufen, Flora and Yuting on a trip to Kaohsiung and Pingtung. We visited IofC friends and felt inspired listening to their stories. I was so grateful for their warm welcome and hospitality.

In Pingtung we heard how the COVID pandemic had hit the local farming community hard. A local businessman shared, “My company tried to help the farmers in Pingtung to promote their products and engage consumers to buy locally.” Shufen translated for me, and even though I couldn’t understand all that he said, I felt the desire in his heart to help others.

In Taichung I went camping for the first time in my life with Albert, Jennifer and other IofC friends. The outdoor air was so fresh, and I was able to connect with nature. We learnt from each other, sharing food, cooking together, and helping each other set up our tents. I had a lot of fun with the families and I got a chance to practice my Chinese with the kids!

On April 24, I joined the Make a Difference session, which is regularly conducted in Taiwan. During the session I shared about being a part of the IofC global family and my interest to learn more about Chinese language and culture. I shared that as a teacher I stayed connected with my students by getting to know their personalities and backgrounds, promoting a growth mindset, addressing bad behaviours quickly, and building good communication with their parents. Being a teacher and volunteer has helped me understand how to work wholeheartedly and fully enjoy my life.

IofC Taiwan also welcomes students to come and study together twice a week at their office. We all had dinner together before the students were tutored by IofC friends and two voluntary teachers studying their master’s. These two teachers kindly invited me to have lunch and converse with them in Chinese. 張芷瑜, the voluntary teacher shared that this was her first experience having meals together with foreigner! I was so blessed to have times and share my teaching experience with them. As the song lyrics say, “There are no strangers in the world, only friends we haven’t met.”

It was also a pleasure to connect with students at the Montessori school in Tainan. This session is to encourage the children to get involved with volunteering, as contributing their time in the community is a part of the Taiwanese curriculum. Some key words I learnt about voluntary work were acceptance, balance, community, dedication, experience, fellowship, gratitude, happiness, impact and journey. One student asked me what encouraged me to be a volunteer, I responded that giving up my time had given me a lot of joy and taught me about creating circles of kindness. I enjoyed these conversations and the passion of students sharing their experiences as volunteers.

As time goes by, a touch of gratitude and care always stays with me. I thank God for His daily blessings. I am also thankful for everyone who has been part of my journey in Taiwan, their presence in my life has made me cherish every moment.

I still miss my late dad. I am a pretty balanced person within myself, but things are changing deeply since my beloved father passed away. It still takes time for me to accept he is gone and to trust the grieving process that I am going through. Completing my journey in Taiwan is one of my ways to honour his legacy, as he wished me to enjoy my study and connections in Taiwan. The more I miss him, the more I pray, as I believe that he is in God’s love now.

Yofrina Octika Gultom