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New immigrant students visit parents’ countries of origin in search of ‘roots’

More than 200 children of recent immigrants and their families have over the past three years visited their parentscountries of origin through a program hosted by the Ministry of Education.

The “root-searching” program gives students an opportunity to experience the social, cultural and economic aspects of their parents’ home countries, and aims to teach them to respect cultural differences and expand their worldviews.

This year, 11 schools participated in the program sponsored by the ministry’s K-12 Education Administration.

Students from National Penghu Marine and Fishery Vocational High School; National Cishan Agricultural and Industrial Vocational Senior High School; and National Tung Kang Maritime and Fishery Vocational High School traveled to Indonesian from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10.

Their trip was chaperoned by Penghu Marine and Fishery principal Hsieh Min-yuan (謝旻淵) and National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology vice president Yu Ker-wei (俞克維).

They visited Jakarta’s Merdeka Square, the National Museum of Indonesia and Jakarta Cathedral to learn about the historical and religious aspects of the country.

At the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah recreational area, they learned about Indonesia’s islands; the demographic distribution of the population; the local lifestyle, dress and architecture; and the country’s cultural diversity.

The students also toured PT Formosa Teknologi Sentral and PT Intermesindo Forging Prima — a technical vocation center and factory set up by a Taiwanese businessman.

The center hires professional teachers from Taiwan to teach vocational training courses and, in doing so, not only helps local workers get occupational licenses, but also trains the talent the company ne, a Cishan Agricultural and Industrial student surnamed Ko (柯) said.

The center shows the hard work and effort Taiwanese businesspeople have put into expanding to overseas markets, Ko said.

At the factory, students saw not only the manufacturing process, but also Taiwanese businesspeople’s understanding of the demand and development of the Indonesian market, a Tung Kang student surnamed Liao (廖) said.

A Penghu Marine and Fishery student surnamed Hsu (許) said that the school has always encouraged students with immigrant parents to use their parents’ mother tongue to their advantage and to improve their multilingual abilities to give themselves an edge when they enter the workplace.

Working in Indonesia is a possibility that would provide a career boost, Hsu said.

The program in 2017 sponsored similar trips for 61 participants: six groups of students and nine families, said Tsai Chih-ming (蔡志明), head of the K-12 Education Administration’s Division of Indigenous People and Special Education.

Last year, 78 participants from six families and 12 student groups participated in the program, and this year there were 68 participants from 11 student groups, he said.