Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: study
Thursday, 01 March 2012 16:27

Youth Design a New Future for Themselves.

‘Youth Design’ is a project of the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare (TAAYRW), set up to provide foundational work skills and professional design training, allowing young people to familiarize themselves with design related jobs, and helping them to accumulate work experience, to successfully orientate themselves in the job market, and to develop their skills.

Senior project manager Hong Xiaoping explained, "It’s mostly design classes, for one hundred hours, work ethics, financial management and work shadow, to understand the nature of the work in the design and printing industries. Including classes on CV writing and team-work, allowing students to understand that having talent alone is not enough.

Opportunities for internships are also available depending on your CV and on mock interviews, as a means of pairing off placements and interns. Students submit their CV themselves, and have a choice of 2 or 3 companies. The internship allowance is provided my TAAYRW."

Hong Xiaoping told us that often companies question the value of having young people who have given up on their studies and have no professional background interning at their workplaces.Many firms discover that these young people have a lot more potential than they had imagined, although they often find they have to adjust their methods and preconceived ideas when dealing with them. Young people nowadays tend to question everything, and don’t like being bossed about. Once they are clear on the purpose of what they are doing, and they know its significance, they are willing to go and do it.


We also interviewed the Secretary General of the TAAYRW, Yeh Dahwa, and asked her to explain the idea behind the ‘YouthDesign’ project.

TAAYRW was founded eight and a half years ago, with the primary aim of changing the stereotypical idea within society that the youth are ‘dependent’, and instead to portray them as ‘citizens-in-the-making’. We promote rights including for welfare protection, public participation, recreation, health, education, and employment.

Society needs to see the changes that ordinary young people are going through, on the cusp of becoming mature citizens of society, and this needs to be supported by society, in terms of families, communities and educational institutions, and foster an atmosphere of social participation, citizenship and a safety net for those who fall into poverty.

When looking at the development of young people, you can’t just look at the situation from one angle, like focusing on those who come from under privileged backgrounds, or on the school entry system

The mainstream test-focused system.

Approximately 90% of young people make their life choices within the frame of the test-focused system, they are restricted by this system of values. If they don’t get into a good school or get good grades, their value to society diminishes, to the point that some of them might not even be considered people. Moreover, whenever there is any activity that contradicts this mainstream ideology appears, it is quickly blown out of proportion by the media, and becomes so-called deviant or antisocial behavior.

The question is, are the resources and choices offered by society enough? Everybody is forced to take the same path, but some people from different backgrounds are not suitable to follow this mainstream path, yet they are still constrained by it.

If the mainstream education system continues to bread people who are just good at pursuing good grades, then it will suppress the emergence of many kinds of creative talent, who will have to rely solely on their own effort, without support. For example a lot of people only have the chance to realize their talent abroad, why don’t we cultivate this kind of talent in Taiwan? The education policy focuses on collecting what is already a finished product, instead of nurturing new talent, it is very short-sighted.

There needs to be some planning ahead when it comes to policy. For example, if someone enjoys painting and creative work, how can we help them become a designer or someone involved in creative activities. This process cannot be achieved in one go, but rather needs to be cumulative. With this in mind, we hope that through or training project “Good Design”, we can let people know that the talent training that the Taiwanese government often mentions needs to be a cumulative, top-bottom process. It requires consideration from the business point of view, and investment from the education aspect. Moreover, it should support people before they have made a name for themselves.

Shattering some myths

A lot of people believe young people are part of “The strawberry generation” (Taiwanese term for those born between 1980-90, that were raised well off), that they are not good at dealing with pressure, that they are cold towards society. But why do people have to use this label? If people did a bit of research and widened their horizons before attaching these kind of labels, then these kinds of terms wouldn’t even exist.

We have seen a lot of employers who are interested in making use of young people’s energy, passion, and creativity. But they are scared because of the stereotypes they often see in the media, such as young people being hard to control or egocentric, so the first time they employ a young person they are usually wary. We feel that our organizations activities and accomplishments have become very important. We have invited a careers coach to serve as a bridge, helping companies and employers understand how to interact with young people. We hope that through these training activities, we can make people understand a lot of these young people are not “strawberries”; they work very hard and very seriously at their jobs, but this hard effort is not reported by the media.

Translated from the Chinese by Daniel Pagan Murphy, Conor Stuart

Chen Jiajun, the girl who participated in "Youth design" program tells us her story...

Li Xin, one of the participants of "Youth Design" shares her experiences studying in Taiwan and Denmark, and her determination to work in the art field, and how the project enabled her in this goal:


Friday, 24 February 2012 15:20

Between progress and regression

We have a clear-cut idea of what the words “progress” and “regression” point to: a student’s marks are showing academic progress, or they indicate that he is regressing in his class ranking; economic indexes measure how much a country is growing or if it is entering recession; after a certain age, our physical and intellectual abilities are regressing… And so, we grade ourselves as we move up or down the ladder, and we measure accordingly other people, institutions and societies.

Grades, indexes and measurements are certainly useful tools. Still, they cut into reality in ways that sometimes make us blind to the complexity of the phenomena we try to assess. The very fact that my abilities are regressing can actually be a factor of maturation, of reconciliation with my personal history, my limits and my achievements if I peacefully come to terms with the transformations that age or illness impose on me. A country’s economic growth often goes with cultural and humane regression when it destroys social structure and community values. Academic tests are rarely able to assess the whole process of intellectual, moral and emotional growth that a student is undergoing. Life mixes into a whole progress and regression, as the chaff and the wheat grow together on the field. Better not to try to separate them before the time of the harvest…

Progress and regression only make sense within dynamic processes that change the one into the other - and conversely. A short-time regression often triggers long-term progress. This is the case when it comes to affective and emotional maturation: an affective setback often comes with a period of regression - the mind closes on itself, closes on its wounds. However, when and if subsumed, setbacks become a force for greater self-understanding as well as for nurturing empathy. The one who ignores setbacks and does not experience regressions runs the risk of seeing one’s success end up as one’s ultimate failure, as he has most probably lived an existence estranged from his true self.

Does it mean that progress and regression just equate? No. Ultimately, we are meant to strive for success. But the texture of success is much richer and subtler than we usually imagine. It is interwoven with the threads of our setbacks, failures and regressions, which also serve to compose the shades and nuances of one’s personal achievement. When life seems to be going downhill, let us take solace in the fact that we progress towards the realization of our true self in a way that is uniquely ours – and our ultimate triumph is the uniqueness we achieve throughout the struggles that will have shaped our life.

Illustration by Bendu


Tuesday, 17 January 2012 18:56

Studying or working: a choice always to be renewed

Is it better to further one’s study or to immerse oneself in a job? This question often haunts the new graduate. On the one hand, they are thrilled by the opportunities that their freshly acquired diploma brings with it: entering adulthood, earning an income, testing their skills at something concrete, exercising responsibilities, even if such responsibilities are modest in scope… On the other hand, they realize that they do not know much yet, that they may earn a bigger salary within a few years if they master extra knowledge and become more competent, that holding a job might soon appear to her more boring or stressful than remaining a student…  Deciding between Present and Future, between different kinds of gains and losses, and between different lifestyles is never easy, and can generate a lot of anxiety.

The new graduate may be comforted by a few thoughts:

-  First, this choice is much less final and binding than was the case in the past. Today, there are a variety of bridges that allow one to go from study to work and from work to throughout one’s professional path. Therefore, it is practical and beneficial to keep one’s intellectual curiosity always intact, and to remain ready to sacrifice one’s immediate interest at some point in order to re-enter the path of study and research.

- Work can reactivate one’s thirst for knowledge and investigation. Often, students lose interest in knowledge and research because of the way they were taught in high school or in university. Their drive towards practical and intellectual knowledge is reactivated through the problems and challenges they meet in real life: the very fact of being surrounded by technical wonders, complex social mechanisms, injustices and moral dilemmas makes one formulate anew questions that have been agitating the human mind since it undertook to both understand and master the world (while doing so through very diverse knowledge systems…).

-  New graduates may also be somehow comforted by the fact of knowing that finding the balance between study and work is a problem that plagues everyone until very late in life – till the end maybe: “Is it better for me to invest my energies into doing what I know I can do, and thus to be of immediate help to the people I care for and my family – or should I challenge myself to once again embark on the road of professional and intellectual improvement? And should I not chose to study and research just out of gratuitousness, whatever the advantages that come out of it?” Fortunately, the choice is not always so drastic, and professional life may offer time and resources for learning the trade and embarking on a progressive program of study.

So, finally, how is one to decide when confronted with such a choice? Basically, ask yourself how you feel about it. Is there in your heart a strong longing to go ahead on the road towards knowledge and research? Or does the idea of becoming someone active in society and receiving recognition for what you do reveal itself to be the most appealing choice for you right now?  If you can answer this question peacefully and without too much hesitation, just follow the desire of your heart. If not… let the answer formulate itself within your inner self. It will do so naturally, if you can avoid to be too overtly anguished by it. But always remember: when working, protect and nurture the flame of intellectual curiosity. When studying, do not close yourself in an ivory tower, and remain burnt by the desire to share with others what you are researching. And do remain aware that life will often renew the challenge, and will ask you again and again to come up with your own answer…

Illustration by Bendu

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 03:57

New Zealand’s Multi-Million Industry: Overseas Student Recruitment

Though not as flamboyant as its counterpart Australia in advertising its foreign student recruitment, New Zealand may very well be one of the most popular and costliest choices of destination for education amongst Asian nationals.

Roughly the size of the UK, New Zealand is residence to over 350 000 Asians alone according to statistics taken in 2006. Not frequent yet ever so present, are the racial violence in New Zealand, which has otherwise done little to discourage wealthy parents from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and Korea from sending their children half way across the world to learn English.

When Yi Ren, also known as Tina, a 30 year-old Chinese national from Beijing, was murdered in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2008- she became the fourth Chinese national to be murdered in the four weeks to 5 October 2008, where two Chinese men were also killed, and the body of another dead Korean was discovered.

New Zealand continues to be regarded as a generally friendly and racially tolerant nation. The plights of these foreign nationals, be it the repercussion of racism or other motives, can be mirrored in Australia but of a noticeably smaller percentage in the past years. Australia, on the other hand, has achieved a racist notoriety amongst Asian states for its overt ‘White Australian Policy’ and racial conflicts.

I was thus baffled as to why exactly foreigners, especially those from Asia, are bent on paying heavy sums of money in sending their children to study in New Zealand, where a year alone in high school and boarding costs approximately 30 000NZD (770 000NT), not including the expenses incurred by families visiting their children- which could amount up to a terrifying sum, unaffordable even for the wealthier middle-class family.

I am also speaking with personal experience that although not blatantly aggressive, racism is present to a large extent in high school to university life in New Zealand. From harmless name-calling, to vandalism of property to various degrees of physical abuse to murder, I have heard and seen all types of racial disputes during my stay in the country. The pricey cost of living and tuition in total for one year in New Zealand living there as a 17-year-old teenager has lead me to question: Is it really worth spending millions on secondary or tertiary education in a foreign country when one may face rejection in local social circles and face, from time to time, racial prejudice?

Were they, like myself, drawn by the praises of the country’s beauty through word of mouth, or recruited through the numerous profitable agents i.e. the foreign embassies, the so-called education attachés, other embassy staff, or their representatives? Recruiting international students is starting to look like or perhaps has always been a big business in New Zealand whereby the staff of foreign embassies and schools alike have an enormous stake; about 15 percent of all school fees paid by foreign students are claimed by these agents.
While these agents are more than willing to entice foreign nationals to study in New Zealand, promoting the multi-million ‘foreign relations’, the now increasingly negative behaviour of a significant number of locals beg to differ.

Christchurch became the first city to create a website for international students to address racial harassment in New Zealand. Christchurch is perhaps no more racist than your average city in a predominantly Caucasian country but the fact that it has taken action to address these issues show that New Zealand may still be able to abate the anti-Asian sentiments before it grows out of hand.

We often say ‘fear cripples our ability to learn’. Parents overseas too, may need to reconsider before investing million of dollars on education in an otherwise beautiful country. Much needs to be done on integrating the overseas students, and even more so on the young kiwi’s understanding of the Asian people.

Photo by A. L.

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