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June 24, 2017

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Gifted volunteer-oholic shares joy of sharing

The China Post--On April Fool's Day, 2012, a group of 42 sincere young people celebrated their existences by shooting out paper planes on which their "dreams," or goals for life, were written. Hidden by their broad smiles and loud voices, every single youngster was undergoing the exact stage of bewilderment younger generations in Taiwan too frequently face: of what they want in life, how they could achieve happiness, and whether or not they could make a difference in this world.

Few of them knew one another well; the only connection they all shared was that with Peggy Liao (廖珮含) — a 24-year-old known for her vigorous laughter and eagerness to share. The youngsters had gathered to celebrate the second anniversary of "1 La 1" (1拉1), a service group Liao founded for the purpose of gathering individuals to serve others while having fun (and vice versa), on April Fool's Day in 2010.

Liao expresses her care for others and for life best by doing. In this world where defensiveness is believed to be what guards and protects an individual from the unknown, the willingness to give up her own comfort for others, which in turn brings her genuine happiness, is how Liao embraces and inspires those who cross paths with her.

People Receive More Than They Give

It is obligatory for Taiwanese middle school and high school students to do a designated hours of volunteer service per school year, and often heard is students complaining about wasting their study time on providing others with services without receiving anything practical in return. It was during those obligatory hours, however, that Liao discovered her passion for volunteer services.

She took on roles in public libraries. She participated in youth scout activities. She facilitated events at the wild bird federation. She cared for the disabled at shelters, cooked for campers, maintained order at public events, received guests at international showcases, translated for foreigners, and tutored girls who were victims of domestic violence. When Typhoon Morakat hit southern Taiwan hard in the summer of 2009, she traveled south to dig away rubble at an elementary school. Rather than "helping," Liao believed she was just assisting and accompanying.

"Helping sounds like I have so much to give, when in reality all that I did was be there and do what I could," she said. Through her experiences, Liao has come to the conclusion that what one could offer is not only the actual observable effort; what receivers of the efforts and fellow providers could derive or learn from one's giving is often beyond imagination.

Youth Ambassador To Nauru

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