The host organization of the workcamp I joined in 2015 summer is Taiwan Fund for Children and Families (TFCF), which aims to help and assist children and teens from poor families. My workcamp was held by the Penghu branch which was established in 1965. Penghu is an island county of Taiwan and many children in Penghu do not have much opportunity to connect with the world and widen their horizon. Therefore, TFCF invites another local organization (Vision Youth Action) to organize some international workcamps in order to bring special opportunities to the local children to experience the cultural exchange. As a whole, it would bring a win-win situation to both local children and the international volunteers.
There are four main aims for the TFCF to run this international workcamp program. First of all, it’s a good way to promote friendship among people in Penghu and the international volunteers. Secondly, it provides more opportunities for the local teenagers and related parties to connect with the world. Next, it encourages the inter-cultural exchange and helps the youth to appreciate and respect cultural differences. Lastly, it helps to inspire a group of local volunteers to devote themselves to the society, enrich their experiences in international awareness and participation.
The duties of the activity could be simply concluded as I) to provide international experience to children and teens by the cross cultural music, dances, stories, games and so on, II) to share more of our own country like the food, culture, festival and even some famous spots, III) to learn and understand more the local life through engaging different social services and visiting, and IV) to help with the daily meals.
It was my first time to join an international workcamp and to work with a group of volunteers from all around the world. Before I went to Penghu, I was quite nervous to meet people from different backgrounds especially when there were no familiar faces accompanying me. Although I had an exchange experience before, taking care of a group of children and organizing activities for them would be a brand new experience to me. Even though ten international volunteers were from different places, we didn’t have any conflicts or problems due to cultural differences in the camp. However, we had encountered some difficulties between the local and international volunteers.
Language was not a problem in communication. But due to the fact that some of the local volunteers could not speak English well, they dared not chat and share with the international volunteers at the very beginning. However, when we became closer, the local volunteers had more courage to chat with other international volunteers in English. Even though they were still afraid to open their mouths to speak the unfamiliar language, they knew that it was the only way to understand more about each other and experience the cultural exchange. We all agreed that language differences would not form a barrier between people across different countries. We could express our feelings by other means like body movement, a hug or even a smile. It’s the best way to show your support and appreciation to each other during the camp.