Interested in getting out and seeing a new country but wanting to volunteer and get involved in local culture and community at the same time? Do you like children? Are you interested in teaching English learning activities? Have you been to Asia yet? Not yet? How about Taiwan?
If you’re still reading this then I’m assuming you are looking for the nitty gritty behind getting here. Let me explain.Named by the Portuguese, Island Formusa, Taiwan lives up to it’s name with sensational landscapes, colorful and lively night markets filled with exotic treats, and very friendly people. A nation very different from mainland China and a place unlike any other Asian nation Taiwan is known for stinky tofu, the bettle nut beauties, it’s gorgeous eastern coastline, and the mighty gorges of Taroko National Park in Hualien. Taiwan has so much to offer the curious traveler whether it’s explores the concrete jungle capital of Taipei, getting lost in the night markets, or tasting the blends of tea that Taiwan is known for.
I was really interested in exploring more of Asia while volunteering in an Asian country.Taiwan had been on my mind for some time because I had a guide book sitting on my night stand for months just looking back at me. With the deep interest to explore exotic night markets, go hiking, and immerse myself in everything Taiwanese I knew I had to find a way to plan my trip there. Then I stumbled upon Dada School in Chungli, Taiwan online.
From the summer of 2011 through the fall of 2013 I have participated in their lovely program for students while also taking trips with them. I have assisted in their summer camps to the east coast of Taiwan all the way to Hualien down to camping in the southeast region of the island near Taitung. With three separate volunteer experiences here I want to share with you all that you need to know and why I love John and Ching and they teaching assistant Sonny, who brings the sunshine everyday. By the way, you can find more about Dada School from helpx.org.
WHAT: John and Ching operate an after school program (similar to Buxiban but better) where students from elementary to high school level come to learn and practice their English with international volunteers. Dinner is prepared at the school every evening by Chef Sonny and Ching with the help of volunteers to assist in cutting and preparing the meal. The food is seriously a delight, trust me on this one. With Ching’s high ability to prepare delicious meals without a recipe with your personal dietary needs in mind I don’t see how you could be disappointed with her cooking.
WHERE: Located next to Linsen Elementary School in Chungli and a ten minute walk from Chungli Train Station, Dada School is in convenient and central location in Chungli. A two minute walk away is 7-11, a handful of tea shops, and a few sandwich breakfast shops that offer soya milk. The fresh market with local fruits and vegetables is less than a five minutes walk. Also there is a Watsons drug store where you can find all of your every day beauty and hygiene products that is less than a eight minute walk. In terms of finding snacks and every day needs, it is all a stones throw away.
ACCOMMODATION: An apartment located less than a five minutes walk from Dada School is provided for volunteers ( no cost). The apartment is two floors with four bedrooms and two bathrooms and a large open space living room. Please leave the apartment in the same way when you arrived. Trash can be taken to Dada School for disposal
VOLUNTEER: Some students are paired with volunteers for conversation class. Ching might ask you to help correct essays and homework. Helping clean up the kitchen area and preparation of meals may be asked. However, if you enjoy food prep and cleanup this may be up your alley.
EXPECT: Expect enriching life experiences that will change the way you view learning. Expect to assist helping children learn, delectable meals, and Taiwanese culture combined into a combination of experiences that will shape your life and change you forever (in a good way).