February 3, 2015
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) held a press conference on the morning of February 3, 2015, to mark the upcoming trip to Australia by this year’s cohort of ROC Teen Diplomatic Envoys, which will take place between February 5 and 15. The delegation consists of 12 students from three outstanding schools that came out on top in the nationwide selection process—National Wu-ling Senior High School, Taipei Municipal First Girls’ High School, and Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School.
At the press conference—attended by Representative of the Australian Office in Taipei Catherine Raper, Commissioner of the Queensland Trade and Investment Office Taiwan Murray Davis, the principals of Taipei Municipal First Girls’ High School and Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, as well as parents—ROC Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vanessa Y. P. Shih conferred a special flag, which has been used for the Teen Diplomatic Envoy program since its inception 13 years ago, to National Wu-ling Senior High School, the top-ranked school in this year’s selection process. Vice Minister Shih also gave exclusive badges to the 12 envoys.
In her remarks, Vice Minister Shih expressed gratitude to the principals, teachers, students, and parents of the nation’s senior high schools, vocational high schools, and junior colleges for their steadfast support of the Teen Diplomatic Envoy program over the past 13 years. The program has not only advanced students’ English language capabilities, but also significantly increased their interest in international affairs. In recent years, an increasing number of schools and students have taken part in the program’s selection process, which has become a key annual English language competition for senior high school, vocational high school, and junior college students, and fostered young talents for internationally oriented work. Vice Minister Shih conveyed her sincere congratulations to the 12 envoys, who were chosen from 500 students of 121 schools across the nation following tests related to creativity, language, international affairs, impromptu performance, and team work. Shih also recognized the commitment and dedication of teachers in preparing students for these tests.
Vice Minister Shih explained that the Teen Diplomatic Envoys will visit four different cities on their 10-day trip to Australia, namely Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Assisted by ROC representative offices in Australia, the envoys will visit political, economic, cultural, and educational institutions, as well as international charity groups, and conduct in-depth exchanges with political figures, academics, members of the overseas compatriot community, and local high school students. These activities are aimed at helping the envoys broaden their international outlook and make the most of this unique opportunity.
Meanwhile, Vice Minister Shih reminded the Teen Diplomatic Envoys that on their trip they will no longer just be 12 outstanding students from three well-known schools in Taiwan. Instead, their mission will be to introduce Taiwan as representatives of all Taiwanese senior high school, vocational high school, and junior college students. Their performance during the trip will greatly influence Australian views on the next generation of Taiwanese youth. To establish a strong team spirit among the envoys, and cultivate a sense of honor, MOFA arranged for special presentations on Australia and diplomatic affairs in preparation for the trip. Combined with their creativity and enthusiasm, this will enable the envoys to fulfill their youth diplomacy mission, promote Taiwan, and boost the friendship between Taiwan and Australia.
To consolidate team spirit and properly introduce Taiwan, the students and their teachers used their own free time to train on such activities as introductory statements, art performances, and presentations. At the press conference, the students wore Australia-themed t-shirts and cowboy hats, and sang the popular Australian folk song “Waltzing Matilda” together with Vice Minister Shih, Representative Raper, and Commissioner Davis, to the great delight of the attendees.
Two former participants in the Teen Diplomatic Envoy program also attended the press conference, including Chang Ting-yu, who was part of the second cohort and currently works at GPS device manufacturer Garmin, and Yang Jia-wei, who was a member of the third cohort and is now a co-pilot at EVA Airways. They shared their experiences of their overseas trips as representatives of Taiwan, as well as the inspiration that the trips provided for their later careers.
By sending the three best performing groups in the English language test of the Teen Diplomatic Envoy program, which has been jointly organized by MOFA and the Ministry of Education since 2002, on overseas trips, Taiwanese youth are given a chance to expand their international engagement and showcase Taiwan’s soft power. Over the past 12 years, the program has sent 140 students to 30 cities in 10 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Many international friendships have been forged as a result of the program, and participating students have gone on to excel in a wide array of professional fields.
During this month’s trip to Australia, the envoys will upload daily logs, photos, and videos to a special Facebook page. Parents and schools, as well as the general public, will thereby be kept updated about the group’s activities in Australia. (E)