Posted: Saturday, August 28, 2021. 2:50 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: A record number of 51 Belizeans have received Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and ICDF scholarships to study in Taiwan as of this 2021 academic year.
To better prepare the students before they travel to Taiwan at the end of September, the Taiwan Embassy on Saturday morning held an orientation at which only seven students were present due to the COVID-19 guidelines. The rest were able to follow the orientation virtually.
At the beginning of the orientation, Dr. Fred Shyu, Senior Advise Oversees Community Affairs Council of the Republic of China (Taiwan) asked for God’s blessing for the 51 scholarship recipients.
Ambassador David Kuang-Chou Chien then congratulated the record-high 51 recipients, 37 ICDF, and 14 MOFA.
“It is a testament to the brilliance and competitiveness of Belizean students and another milestone for the 32 years of friendship and partnership between Taiwan and Belize,” said ambassador Kuang-Chou Chien.
The ambassador said that the 51 four-year scholarships are equivalent to a donation of BZE $4.6 million from the government of Taiwan to the people of Belize.
“As we say education is the cornerstone to growth, it is remarkable that among the 37 Taiwan ICDF scholarship recipients, a historic high number of 13 will be studying in the medical or public health fields,” said the Taiwan Ambassador.
He also highlighted the fields of tropical agriculture, mechanical engineering, computer science, and information technology, areas that are critical for Belize’s national development.
Ambassador Kuang-Chou Chien congratulated Belize on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of our independence. He added that as a trustworthy and faithful ally of Belize, the Taiwan Embassy looks forward to strengthening the bilateral relations between Taiwan and Belize.
Keynote speaker Governor-General Froyla Tzalam congratulated the students and said that she was once such a student.
Salam said that the binary placement of formal and informal education is not serving us well as it pits the educated and the un-educated against each other and the un-educated always losing out on opportunities to contribute meaningfully to the development of Belize and to themselves. She said this directly affects our young male population and our people generally. She said we are not only losing productive workers, it is now a social issue that is now becoming a national security concern.
“I pose to you, that with the knowledge that you will gain, that you use it to examine why our society is the way it is now and how we’re going to make it better,” the Governor-General challenged the scholarship recipients.
Governor-General Tzalam talked about the importance of education and mentioned the African-Mayan History project as part of a relevant curriculum in education. She told the students, as her dad taught her, “don’t let formal education be the only system of knowledge to use in understanding the world and how to relate with other people. He did not want us to become arrogant and behave as if there is nothing to learn from those who are not formally educated, which for us meant our elders and other community people”.
“Higher education in developing countries has been criticized for being too distant from community concerns and has resulted in the production of graduates who tend to be ignorant to the development challenges of their local communities and countries.”
The Governor-General said Belize is blessed in having diverse cultures which we need to capitalize on. She said she was glad when she saw that the chosen disciplines appear to be on a good track towards Belize development.
She also had a word for those who applied for scholarships but were not successful, telling them not to give up.
The Governor-General said that the Taiwan scholarships are more than just studies, that Taiwan is a big country, and that they should take advantage of every opportunity they get to widen their horizons.
“Open your hearts and open your minds to this exciting educational journey,” said Education Minister Francis Fonseca who thanked the Taiwanese government for awarding scholarships to hundreds of Belizeans over the last 28 years.
Fonseca said that the 51 Belizeans will be studying at prestigious Taiwanese universities in various fields such as tropical medicine, agricultural economics, international business and trade, health care administration, educational leadership, medicine, computer science, information engineering, journalism, and mass communications – exciting areas of study that are very relevant to national development he said.
He encouraged the students to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study in a foreign country where they will meet a new culture, make new friends, learn mandarin. It’s an opportunity that will change their lives, he said.
He reminded them that they will all be our student ambassadors, that they will be representing our country and our people, and to treat everyone with respect and courtesy.
In addressing the scholarship recipients, Alobi Young, president of the Belize Taiwan Alumni Society (BTAS) said that they would not only gain an education but studying in Taiwan will also afford them the greatest cultural experiences, learning mandarin, gastronomic delights, and Chinese culture. He said the BTAS hopes they return and give back to Belize.
Young added that the BTAS will establish a network to assist in the re-transition to Belize so that when they can come back successfully to vibrant job opportunities.
The scholarship recipients also saw a video sent by the Belize Taiwan Association, the association of Belizean students in Taiwan. The video showed the types of experiences the new students will be exposed to during their four-year scholarships.
Belize’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Dr. Candice Pitts also sent them a video message welcoming them to Taiwan.
Student Ayleen Waleska Perez gave the vote of thanks in the representation of the 51 scholarship recipients.
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