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Taiwan Youth Ambassadors Visit Trinity

Posted on 05 July 2013

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In June, Trinity College Dublin hosted Ireland's first visit from a Taiwanese Youth Ambassador team. The Youth Ambassador program sends select groups of students abroad to participate in cultural exchanges around the world. Through a series of workshops students from Taiwan and Ireland were able to gain insight into the political, economic and social workings of their respective cultures.

Organized by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, six students from the National Sun Yat-sen University engaged in a three-day workshop with Trinity students. Some of the participants from Trinity had previous experience of travel or internships in Taiwan, but several knew very little about the country before meeting the visiting ambassadors. Over the course of the workshop, the students spoke with lecturers in Irish history, politics and economics, as well as representatives from the Careers Advisory Service. The Taiwanese students also gave presentations on similar topics, highlighting Taiwan's development in a range of areas.

For many of the participants, the most surprising outcome of the week was just how similar Taiwan and Ireland are. Coming from relatively small islands with famously welcoming citizens, the ambassadors from both delegations enjoyed sharing each other's food, music and dance.  The Taiwan Youth Ambassadors visited the Irish-Taiwan Parliamentarian Friendship Society, the European Parliament Office, Dublin City Council, the National Gallery and Newgrange as part of their introduction to Ireland.

In January of this year, Taiwan instituted a working holiday program with the goal of increasing youth mobility. Ireland has been a popular choice for many of the Taiwanese young people looking to take advantage of the new scheme.

The Youth Ambassador program launched in 2009 and has grown every year. This year, they plan to send forty-three groups of students to thirty-eight different countries between June and August. The Youth Ambassadors are selected by their universities to promote Taiwan, encourage cultural exchange and strengthen bilateral relations abroad.

The week concluded with the students presenting their work to university and government representatives at an event in the Chester Beatty Library. Representative Harry Tseng of the Taipei Representative Office in Ireland praised the students for their work in embracing each other's cultures and reinforced his government's commitment to youth mobility, bilateral opportunities for exchange and the value of the friendships fostered by such visits. The audience at the final presentations was treated to a mixture of dance, poetry, song and photo displays representing both the similarities and differences between the two cultures. Both the Trinity students and Taiwanese delegation agreed that their time together had increased their curiosity about other cultures. Trinity College Dublin looks forward to welcoming another delegation of Youth Ambassadors next year. This visit was a valuable step towards strengthening future scientific collaboration, trade linkages and academic exchange between Ireland and Taiwan.