Registration for the 2014 International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program will be held from February 20 through April 8. During this period, students from universities and colleges interested in becoming Youth Ambassadors are welcome to sign up for the competition to join the program.
The International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), now in its sixth year, has been improved and updated based on the experience and results from overseas exchange programs during the previous five years, and follows in the fine tradition of the Chinese Youth Goodwill Missions dispatched over the past 20 plus years. This year’s program, based on the precept of “tradition and innovation,” will undergo transformation and upgrading as follows:
Ever since MOFA began the International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program in 2009, it has invited participating schools to form their own teams, each of which consisted of a relatively few members. This made it relatively difficult to attain a consistent standard in terms of planning and arranging exchange programs. With a more innovative approach this year, university and college students for the first time will be able to register as individuals to take part in the International Youth Ambassadors competition. The hope is that forming teams with students from different schools, departments and disciplines will ensure a richer and more diverse background for the members of this year’s International Youth Ambassadors exchange program teams. Outstanding young students able to express themselves sufficiently fluently in foreign languages (English or Spanish) to promote Taiwan, or who possess special talent in dance or music performance, or who have creative ideas on teaching Mandarin Chinese and are passionate about youth exchanges with various countries are encouraged to take part in the competition to join the program.
2.Different competition rounds
MOFA has adopted a three-round approach to screening candidates for this year’s program: initial, semi-final and final. During the initial round, students will submit written proposals. Those approved by MOFA’s jury will participate in a semi-final open audition round to be held on school campuses in the northern, central and southern areas of Taiwan. The jury will pick International Youth Ambassadors team members based on their poise, foreign language ability, basic physical fitness and special talent (in four major categories: ability to articulately introduce Taiwan, dance, musical performance or Mandarin Chinese teaching).
Internet voting for “The Best Youth Ambassador Ever!” will be added for the final round. Organizers will record videos of participants in the three school campus open auditions held respectively in northern, central and southern Taiwan. The videos of those who pass the semi-final round will be uploaded onto the MOFA website and made available nationwide so that the public may cast votes for them via the Internet. The voting totals for each candidate along with their respective semi-final round scores will be taken into consideration during the final round.
4.Professional and intensive training
In order to upgrade and integrate the exchange program content for the various teams, MOFA will provide six weeks of training during July and August of this year for students chosen as youth ambassadors. During this period, students will live in the same housing accommodation to cultivate independent self-managed learning and team spirit, and receive intensive training in common knowledge, communication skills and performing routines required for the International Youth Ambassadors exchange visits. The language proficiency and performing specialties of trainees will be tested and evaluated during the training period so that trainees can be grouped into several teams in accordance with the particular needs of different regions, and undertake intensive rehearsals and practices for different types of programs comprising different modules. The results of this process will be subject to further confirmation before departure.
5.Multiple region tours and performances
Unlike previous years, when each exchange team only visited one country or region, 2014 Youth Ambassadors will be divided into eight exchange teams, and the region that each team visits will include both diplomatic allies and countries friendly to the ROC, with each tour route covering four to five countries or cities. During the exchange period, diverse exchange approaches will be utilized, including visits, seminars and performances, to showcase for each host country the beauty and development of Taiwan through the creativity and vitality demonstrated by the International Youth Ambassadors exchange teams. This will also broaden the international outlook of Youth Ambassadors and boost their international involvement.
The International Youth Ambassadors Program has been a welcome favorite of university and college students in Taiwan over the five years that MOFA has conducted it. The roster of nations and areas included in the exchange program has expanded from the ROC’s diplomatic allies to include other countries friendly to Taiwan; its footprint has spread from the South Pacific to include all five continents. Thanks to the program, participants have broadened their international horizons, accumulated life experience, and enhanced their involvement in and understanding of international affairs. MOFA is taking an innovative approach to conducting the International Youth Ambassadors Program this year in the hope that through visiting foreign countries and interacting with their people, our students will be able to demonstrate to our friends overseas that the ROC is indeed a peace-builder, provider of humanitarian aid, promoter of cultural exchanges, creator of new technology and business opportunities, and standard-bearer of Chinese culture for the international community. (E)