NYC Fosters Youth Growth in Taiwan

Thursday, December 22, 2011
Courtesy of National Youth Commission

In celebration of the Republic of China (中華民國) centenary, the National Youth Commission (NYC, 青年輔導委員會) has its own way of celebrating the special year for the youth. The Commission hopes to involve the youth in public issues, volunteer activities and becoming role models. It has many volunteering projects to encourage youths to contribute to their community, programs to increase the competitive advantages of young people while bringing positive impacts to the society and attract foreign travelers and build Taiwan into a major tour destination in Asia.

Digital Tour Buddy (寶貝機)

The Commission in Taiwan is inviting the youth aged from 15 to 30 to travel the island. The commission has set up a convenient free Digital Tour Buddy service that only can be easily applied to online.

The Digital Tour Buddy comes in two varieties. The machine itself is a cellphone with a 2G sim card, or a 3G sim card that can be inserted into a cellphone. Both forms come with an open phone line. For the later option, a phone will not be provided, and iPhones are not compatible.

TheDigital Tour Buddy is a travel service system for backpacking youth. It offers a 24-hour service hotline to help backpackers obtain travel and services information.

The Digital Tour Buddy is especially helpful for international backpackers. It is a unique travel service to help them solve the language barrier as they tour Taiwan.

Moreover, the device has a built-in dictionary function of English-Chinese translation for youth backpackers.

The application method is an easy process via the website: http://youthtravel.tw. The multilingual website details in Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean to solve the language barrier of foreign travelers. On the website, travelers can find out where to stay or how to approach a local attraction, and problems they might face. The “digital buddy” can be collected at the Taoyuan or Kaohsiung Airport (one must return it to the location from which one borrowed). Young visitors will receive up to NT$100 free talk with their Digital Tour Buddy at the end of this year. The additional top-up credit can be bought at convenience stores around the island or Chung Hwa Telecom stores.

The Youth Travel Card (青年旅遊卡)

This landmark card offers numerous discounts in admission tickets of more than 1,000 attraction, accommodations, transportations, food, shopping, and Chinese learning courses such as Taipei 101 Observatory and National Palace Museum (國立故宮博物院).

The Youth Travel Card is available free of charge at the Taoyuan and Kaohsiung airports' Visitor Information Centers (機場旅遊服務中心), as well as the Youth Volunteer Centers of the National Youth Commission (青輔會青年志工中心), Tourism Bureau i-service centers (觀光局i系統), Chinese learning centers (大學華語文中心), county and city halls.

For detailed information, please refer to the handbook of the Youth Travel Card Special Discount Information, or the Youth Travel's web site.

Tour Buddy Network (青年志工導覽服務)

The Tour Buddy Network is aimed at helping travelers from abroad to experience the wonders of Taiwan. The National Youth Commission has recruited student volunteers from seven colleges to take the travelers to local tour attractions such as temples, night markets and scenic spots.

Participating in the program this year are students of Shih Hsin University (世新大學), Chang Jung Christian University (長榮大學), and Taiwan Hospitality & Tourism College (台灣觀光學院), Providence University (靜宜大學), Chung Hua University

(中華大學), Taiwan Shoufu University (台灣首府大學) and National Taitung University (台東大學). Each university has different tour routes with stops at interesting places, and will offer travelers different experiences.

Oftentimes tour-buddy tours turn out to be mutual learning experiences. The network so far so served 18,632 foreign travelers with 2,059 student volunteers in the past 5 years. Student volunteers said that the program is very beneficial. It offers an unique opportunity to practice their foreign language skills, and the cultural exchange experience is also very rewarding.

According to the survey conducted by the participating universities of the program, 92 percent foreign travelers have had favorable experiences with the program. The Youth Commission believes the program is a great way to train the country's future diplomats.

Youth Travel Spots (青年壯遊點)

The National Youth Commission began to promote the "Trekking Taiwan-Creative Tour" project in 2005, cooperating with non-profit organizations to encourage the youth to discover the beauty of Taiwan.

In 2009, the project was upgraded into “Youth Travel Spots” that works with local non-profit organizations to provide inspired young tourists with more convenience. The project also involved the “Trekking Taiwan” project which includes seven culture experiences.

The project aims at guiding young foreigners and Taiwanese to a better understanding of the island and a better sense of responsibility and recognition towards the country. Youth can participate in themed travel packages that explore cultural, ecological, and agricultural aspects of Taiwan and help them improve physical fitness and develop a spirit of teamwork. ■

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