National Taiwan University: NTU Students Help Refugee Children Improve Their English Skills with Digital Expertise

A member of the NTU Leadership Program, this political science major launched Refugee Network Taiwan by pooling expertise and resources both on and off campus. Refugee Network Taiwan is an online English course offered to Syrian refugee children, the goal is to infuse the children with the courage, skills, and confidence to better their lives in an environment with few resources. The program has drawn English teachers from Taiwan and overseas to teach basic English skills to Syrian refugee children, encouraging them with personal concern and support, thereby realizing the ideal of social responsibility.

While attending high school in Japan, Yoshin was inspired by a documentary that was produced by the Red Cross and shown by the school’s international affairs club, as well as by the story of a free clinic at the Zaatari refugee camp operated by Tzu Chi. She pondered how she could contribute to the education of refugee children upon her return to study international relations in Taiwan. Her vision has inspired and attracted Taiwanese students from various universities with different professional training to join Refugee Network Taiwan.

The team had discussions with Syrian students through the online English teaching program.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwanese youth have striven to change the world by using their digital expertise to build connections. Yoshin Wang and her team participated in the Youth Global Action Plan, sponsored by the Youth Development Administration, Ministry of Education in 2020. Their initiative was awarded the first prize in the competition for digital sustainable action plan, garnering NTD130,000 in prize money and the opportunity to build connections abroad. The program encourages young people to reach out to international organizations and implement action plans using digital technology, with themes related to the United Nations’17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 6-month plan was launched in June 2020 as the beginning of a journey in digital action on the international scale. Refugee Network Taiwan has reached out to international organizations based in Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, inspiring many in the process. Joshin was thrilled that nearly 30 volunteers from Taiwan stepped up to dedicate themselves to the education of refugee children and were eager to partner with the initiative in bridging the gap through the online English teaching program. Her vision of enabling refugee children to be hopeful, continue learning, and keep pursuing their dreams.

Refugee Network Taiwan.
Bea Mae Estur from Syria, a participant in the course, said she hopes to improve her spoken English by taking the online course and interacting with more people. Another student, Mustafa, told the volunteers he hopes to learn about different fields through the course and give back to society in the future. Michel Chu, mentor of the Advanced Leadership Seminar of the Leadership Program, encouraged Joshin’s team to continue this effort and advised them to help the Sfugee children find employment opportunities using online resources. He also offered the precious advice to stay focused in their efforts, in order to overcome various difficulties.

Yoshin said she is pleased with the progress of the course so far and delighted that the team is dedicated to continue running online courses for Syrian refugee children. Even though the children face unimaginable hardships and issues, they always repay the team’s efforts with their warm smiles. Yoshin hopes that more and more people who share same values will join the initiative to leverage ever greater social and international influence together.

The NTU Leadership Program is dedicated to cultivate the students’ leadership qualities, communication and coordination skills, and willingness to support one another. The students in the program are expected to understand and explore their own potential and future while keeping on the lookout for things they can improve in their daily life as well as considering a range of wider issues. The students are taught to pull together in offering services to society in the spirit of humility and altruism, with the goal of understanding the true meaning of leadership. As the motto of the Refugee Network Taiwan team reads,“We can do everything, unafraid of anything, as long as we work with the team!”