Saturday, August 15, 2009

Young minds show sense of social responsibility

I was off today, but duty still called and I ended up interviewing a brilliant and articulate student from Taipei American School who spearheaded efforts to send humanitarian aid down south. What was striking about the young man was not only his sense of duty to his community, but also his long-term perspective, which is rare in young people. This piece appeared in the Taipei Times today:

Although school hasn’t even resumed yet, Ian Chang, president of the Taipei American School (TAS) Student Government, was yesterday busy mobilizing forces to do something about the catastrophe in southern Taiwan.

On Wednesday, Chang convened 40 members of the student senate and launched an appeal to students and parents to help.

About 48 hours later, four truckloads, or about 600 boxes, of emergency material — blankets, sleeping bags, instant noodles, toiletries, sanitary equipment and scouring powder — had been gathered and was ready to be shipped south. All donations came from parents, the community and schools.

By 5pm yesterday, the 600 boxes were on their way to Kaohsiung American School, whose superintendent will personally take the donations to Namasiya Township (那瑪夏) , Kaohsiung County.

Donors ranged from small children bringing a couple of blankets or stuffed animals, to parents, who brought truckloads of items.

While the corporate sector did not participate in the TAS relief program, Chang told the Taipei Times that many TAS parents are in senior positions at big corporations, and many of them made sure that their firms donated toward relief efforts.

Chang said yesterday’s effort was just a short-term initiative, adding that plans are being made for TAS to foster schools destroyed in the south and help with reconstruction.

TAS has a long tradition of helping out in poor countries, Chang said.

“However, it’s not often that we get to help out at home,” he added.

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