tv Taiwan Outlook PBS August 4, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
there is an promotion of educational exchanges with countries in africa, including tanzania and sierra leone. on today's program, we are delighted to have jean-pascal lombart, supervisor of student volunteer groups national tsing hua university at the -- at the national tsing hua university. welcome to the program, father jean-pascal. >> thank you. it's a pleasure to be here. i'm happy to have the opportunity to share what we are doing with the taiwanese students. it is the 60 year i'm going to take a team to sierra leone -- sixth year i'm going to take the team to sierra leone. there will be two other teams going to tanzania and one from tsing hua university in july to
mid-august. i look forward to sharing that with you. >> let's backtrack. tell us about yourself. you were born in france. why did you decide to come to taiwan in 1998? >> i belonged to an international group of priests. during the course of my formation, i went to tanzania for two years as an experiment to discover if that is the kind of life that i want to live. then i went along with my studies and towards the end, when i was about to be a priest,
i was invited to apply for the country to serve. i had three countries in mind. tanzania was number one because i knew the language. taiwan was number two. it was the beginning for our group. i was encouraged to apply for it. they told me, we need people like you. i don't know what that means. [laughter] the third was the central african republic. the action is because my father lived there for 15 years before he was married. he was growing coffee and cotton. when i was a kid, i had those stories about central africa. so this is how i applied. and it was accepted.
>> before you came to taiwan, you had never been here. this is a very dramatic change of climate, people, culture. how did you get to adjust to the lifestyle and cultural, environment in taiwan? >> i knew two persons when i came to taiwan. >> i suppose that both work with you? >> not exactly. one of the work and flew with me and taiwan -- in taiwan and the other works with me in the senior high school who i had met in paris. i told her, i'm going to -- that was the first step of building up a network. cecilia is her name. the adjustment is through those
people, both those who know me from france. we discussed what we see, what we hear, what we eat, and the language learning. the local taiwanese people -- when you make the effort of learning the language, people are so grateful and attentive to make it happen. they tell you, your chinese is so wonderful after one week. you believe it in the beginning. [laughter] that makes it easier. you feel welcome and encouraged. learning chinese is a big challenge. >> it's a very difficult language. as things go on, it becomes more
and more interesting and you have a sense that you belong here. >> you get to know more people and more people get to know you better as well. father jean-pascal, what was your motivation to set up this educational volunteer group at the national tsing hua university? back in 2008, when you started, what was your motivation and factors that helps you decide that was the right thing to do at the time? >> i discovered afterwards that it was a good idea. in the beginning, it was an invitation, teacher of tsing hua university university. i stressed on the importance of building relationship before
moving towards a collaboration. he told me, we are trying to do that and tsing hua university through the national volunteer program. we have teams going to knit how, indonesia -- nepal, indonesia, and ghana. would you present a proposal? i thought for five seconds and accepted. i made a few phone calls to tanzania. i tried to look at the united nations development goals to say what is the progress and needs of tanzania in that area, to lay a background, foundation for the service. with the idea that the first stage would be anyway to build up the contact, discover the people, let the people discover us, and take it from there.
to, what can we do together? the motivation was to allow young taiwanese to have a similar experience to the one i had when i went to tanzania. that is, to discover that the world is bigger than my hometown , that you can actually become friends with foreigners. this could change the direction of your life. it's also a learning through experience. i like to teach people, but not in the classroom. i like people to learn from experience. i try to create that environment for a good experience. >> father, back five years ago when you first started doing this, people probably ask you two questions. why tanzania?
that is a country far away from taiwan. most people and -- in taiwan know very little about tanzania. you will have difficulties and challenges in getting the students and sponsorship you need to support the programs. what do you say to those questions? >> you mentioned that people know very little about tanzania. that was one of the reasons why i chose tanzania. my idea was to open the horizons. i feel that taiwan is in the position on the mainland -- margin of mainland of china. and there is no taiwan connection between -- connection between taiwan and africa.
i had this contact, i had the language. plus, tanzania is a poor country. tanzania is a country where people speak english and swahili, but you can get by in english. it's a peaceful country. safety was priority number one for the university when they told me, you can present a project, they said safety was number one. i said, ok. i have those contacts, members of my congregation, 150 of them work in tanzania. we are there for about 150 years. i felt confident. you said also, challenges and difficulties that motivate me. i don't like to walk the traveled road. i like to open new roads. that is something i'm
discovering after being in taiwan and starting different things. i have the spirit of starting new roads and going where people have not been, or less traveled road. i feel we learn more than just walking the highway. >> going along in these programs, how did you get the students at the national tsing hua university interested in going on the trips with you? they probably knew very little about tanzania as well. they would say, i would like to go but i know very little about the country. how can you help me prepare? >> i think they knew the same about tanzania as i knew about taiwan when i came. they had the same spirit of adventure or discovery. a number of them told me, it is
unique in my life to discover africa. this is still the case for the students who volunteered in our teams, in addition to the project, there is a attraction of going to this place where very few people have been. people like to come back and say i had an experience that no one else had. and going and sharing and making friends. the second one, i felt they were attracted by the logic of the program. we don't define a project here in taiwan in an office. there is no paper. believing that we know what the people need, we go there. we meet them. we have a few activities together. the first year there are courses, intercultural exchange, talking about taiwan, trying to
>> welcome back to the second segment of our program today. we continue our conversation with jean-pascal lombart, a supervisor of student volunteer groups at the national tsing hua university. excuse me for interrupting you earlier. we were going through the process of asking you, what was some of the reasons that you needed to provide to students at the tsing hua university to convince them this is the right thing for them to do. >> i think i did not need to give too many reasons. they were really attracted by the idea of giving one month of service to the people who have needs, and trying to contribute what they are learning or what they have learned both in the classroom and in the clubs in
the university or through their volunteer service. to see that this can be useful and life-giving for people. plus, the challenge of building up a project which could be defended or which could be presented to sponsors. for me, it's a very important part of the program. to convince people that what you're doing has a value and you're able to make it, you have to convince yourself -- he convinced yourself. -- be convinced yourself. the first part of the training is between six and nine months of preparation. the students meet every week. i tell them when i recruit them, about 10 hours every week. between meetings and personal preparation. one of the big tasks is to prepare a project book to be
presented to the university, the ministry of foreign affairs, education, and businesses so we sponsor. to be prepared to answer the questions. why go so far when there are needs and taiwan -- in taiwan? the duration is very short. do you speak the language, is it safe? all those questions. >> i'm going to give you another questions, father. what kinds of changes or impact do you think your student volunteer groups will make in a country like tanzania? >> it is the opportunity to discover that you can become friends with foreigners, that you can contribute your own experience, what you have learned in the classroom.
also, the skills. maybe from taiwan, more or less a project evolves towards computer education. i feel that is something that taiwan can contribute there. the experience of making a difference in other people's lives through very simple and not so costly projects, it increases your own self-worth and sense of purpose. at the same time, discovering that tanzanian people also have things to teach to us that we can learn from them, and maybe this encounter can change some of our values or perspectives in life. for example, just one experience we have which i found very interesting. taiwanese students at least and perhaps taiwanese eagle in general are very work focused towards achieving a rest --
people in general are very work focused towards achieving a result. when teaching the tanzanian teachers the use of computer software, the students were focused on that. they were a bit disappointed because the tanzanian teachers were a bit slow. some of them missed the classes or were coming late. the break was long. they were focusing on preparing the next class, so they stayed in the classroom while the tanzanian teachers were going for the tea break. after we discovered that the tanzanian teachers were saying, why do the taiwanese don't come for the tea breaks? that's the important time. we get to know each other and share each other's stories. we discovered that without building the relationship we could not achieve the goal. i think we shared the focus from taiwanese culture of achieving
the goal, but also we learned that without building the relationship and being attentive to the rhythm of the other person, you would not achieve that goal either. that kind of learning is applicable in the work environment today, and anyplace you go. priority to relationship and knowing each other. if i don't feel you respect me and care for me, i'm not going to give my 100% for you. >> are their students in the middle of the mission who come up to you and say, father, i can't take it. this is much tougher or more difficult than i anticipated, i would like to go home early. has that happened? when and if that happens, how do you resolve -- the concern may
be over the cultural shock, adjustment into a different environment. >> what i try to do is before going, i told him there is no turning back. when you get in the plane, we go together and come back together. there is no real option. there is option, but really you go for the whole trip. we get to know a little bit the country. but also, one of the important things they will discover is africa is not so terrible. it's not difficult. it's a very enjoyable and good place to live. it is safe, people are welcoming. you don't sleep under a tree. you have water. people knowing that we are foreigners, we come from a more developed country, they will make all efforts to prepare clean, and varied food for us.
water for our showers. the hospitality we get, it is amazing. we learn also about hospitality. that is one of the values that african cultures have to share with the rest of the world. you let everything you have at hand because there is a guest. it is also based on the belief that the guest is a blessing. if we can learn that, that is wonderful learning. the other person is a blessing for my life if i take the effort to welcome him or her. >> i can certainly appreciate the fact that, you bring in the least taiwanese students over to africa and coming back. i would suppose most of the students have certainly benefited from this experience. as a person in the maturation process, and given the fact that you continue to organize groups
to go over to africa -- has that helped in terms of more and more students are now curious, attracted to the trips that you organize to go to places like tanzania? >> we have taken until now, about 100 students to africa. >> roughly 20 per year? >> yes. >> good. >> we have 45 going into three different groups this year. for three years we had only one team. after three years, we started the medical team. now we are starting sierra leone team. we have set up an organization or association which carries on the concern of the volunteers after they come back.
that is what they have started for one month in tanzania or later on in sierra leone, who is going to take it over after us? who will pass on the information and contacts so it is an incremental process, not starting from zero every year? we have set up that organization. we have more and more people who contact us. when we do fund raising, we have to advertise. not only the business or people who can sponsor us here, but students who are curious and interested. last week i got an e-mail from a student from taiwan university who was asking, can i join your group? there are people who are interested, i feel, and that's what we want to promote. going abroad for volunteer service is
something which should be part of a curriculum of a young taiwanese, if we want to get in a global village, global society. >> we have about a minute left in this part of the program. how has the trip changed you? we understand that tanzania is a country you have been many times before. how has the trip of student volunteers that you have been organizing in the last five years, how has the trip changed your life? >> it has made me love more taiwanese and tanzanian people. it has allowed me to see a purpose in my life, in my journey. going to tanzania for two years and then coming here for 15 years. i was always wondering, why did i go to tanzania? when i saw my students interacting with the tanzanians, i thought, this is the purpose of my life.
i want people from different cultures to come together and discover the richness in each other and build something different than competition, ignorance, or prejudice but rather collaboration, friendship , peace building, discovering each other. >> you have certainly done a wonderful job in the last five years. we need to take another break. i will be right back.
>> welcome back to today's program on "taiwan outlook." i am wu ray-kuo. we continue with jean-pascal lombart. father, we understand this is the year, 2013, that you organize and lead a student volunteer group into sierra leone. this is a country that many people in taiwan taiwan, myself included, know very little about. the country is generally not well depicted.
this civil war, a lot of violence and bloodshed. has the country changed in the last five or 10 years? >> i think their perception is very representative of 95% of humanity regarding sierra leone and africa in general. that is precisely why i like to go to africa to change this picture a little bit. and to help people discover that in africa, and in this case, sierra leone, people want to go on with their life. they have big dreams. they want to build up their country. they have gone through a very painful events at the civil war, which finished in 2002. they had three peaceful democratic transitions of power. what they want is to be part of humanity.
they have been seen as a pariah, a dangerous place. they have big dreams for their country. i went there last october after having this invitation from a member of my congregation who is from sierra leone and is working there. when he heard that taiwanese students go to tanzania for service he said, could you send a team to our country? i said, i need to go and see first. [laughter] >> so you went in 2012? >> last october, for one month. i went to the places we are going this july. and met the people. i discussed with them, what can we do together as a first stage, where are we going to stay, how was transportation, and so on. it is safe. people are waiting for us.
i believe that just the same as the students coming back from tanzania have shared good stories, hopeful story, joyful story about tanzania, i believe that will be the same experience in sierra leone. >> given the fact is sierra leone has gone through transformation in the last 10 years, it is still a different country from tanzania. at different stages of development. of course, they will have different needs. how would you design the program for sierra leone and little differently from the program that you have designed over the last five years for trips to tanzania? >> they have different needs. i think one of them which is not addressed by a program but rather by an attitude is, they need healing. there is suffering. there has been a lot of suffering. i remember talking with somebody.
i was very careful not to touch on the issue of civil because i know it is an open wound still. when you touch it, people fear. but i build confidence. i talked to someone. he says, we can forgive but not forget. that person, 40 years old, started to cry in front of me. the pain is still there. to address the needs, it is not only us who decide what are the needs we are going to address. we go there and we tell the people we want to do something that would be beneficial for you, what can we do together? so they will bring a lot of things. can you build a school for us, we need to dig a well, we want internet, we need a car, hospital. we will say, maybe the hospital
not immediately. wait a little bit. there are things we can do. so we put them on the table and we say, what is going to be your contribution from sierra leone to make this happen? if there is no local contribution, i don't take up a project. i don't think it is a priority. if i was going there and i say, who wants a computer? everybody would say yes. but if i say, are you going to build a computer classroom in your school? if you do, then i bring the computers. then i know it is a priority for that school. that is how i design the project together with the students. we go and say, we have a project based on the findings from last october. next year, 2014, 2015, project will be based on what we found
in 2013, the contacts we have built, the survey we have made, the needs expressed and what we feel we can address. >> and you're in the process of organizing this trip to sierra leone for the first time. how has the students' reaction then when you propose, students, we are organizing the trip to sierra leone in addition to tanzania? what was their reaction? >> i was afraid students would say, sierra leone we don't know. let's register for tanzania. some of them felt that tanzania was a mature project and i wanted to be a part of that. some of them -- i believe it is a different spirit in the students. risks. i find it in the team of sierra leone, this year, the same
spirit as the team for tanzania in 2007. people who are not afraid to create something new and who will give 110% of their talents and time to make it happen. when you say, i'm organizing, i feel i'm not. i'm giving a vision, providing contacts. the students are organizing. that is an important part of my way of doing to let them experiment that they can do it. my goal is to become useless. i feel i'm pretty well succeeding. >> you are still the visionary. maybe in the next few years, you could have another student volunteer group to another part of africa. >> i hope that. >> may be in the future you can combine these groups together and make it a longer trip, one month in sierra leone and one month in tanzania.
my next question is, what do you foresee in the next five years that these student volunteer programs at tsing hua university will go next? not just areas of the country, but how do you see the program developing in the next five years? >> what i see is that i'm handing over the responsibility to a team of former volunteers. this character is a bit negative. i rather like the fly. ed expressed -- that expressed it is going to develop on its own, with a taiwanese way of doing things.
i have taken time to integrate in taiwanese society, but i believe the best to know taiwanese way are the taiwanese. and the students who graduate from tsing hua university go into society, build up contacts will carry on this in their own way. i can already see that there is a new leader of the association now. i'm not the president anymore. she is building a contact with a different kind of businesses. we aim to become a platform between taiwan and africa for different kind of collaboration. it can be volunteer group, but it can be business development. it can be support. a few years ago there was a case of taiwanese fishermen arrested in tanzanian waters and put in prison.
the families of those fishermen came to us because they googled tanzania, taiwan. they ask, can you help? we took this case for about three years with the foreign affairs ministry to try to allow these people to recover their freedom. that is also part of what i hope to build. the bridge is not only for volunteer work, it is for all kinds of exchanges. i hope it will always be based on mutual respect. based on goodwill, and attention to the needs of the weaker people. that's the specificity of that bridge. >> this goes to one of the unique characteristics that your program has demonstrated over the last five years, which is that you have a very open-minded approach to managing these trips, to africa.
you have an open-minded approach -- not just doing the volunteer work, but other things as well. how do you see in the future, not only the experience of tie one-africa, but tie one---taiwan -africa, but taiwan and other parts of the world. is this something you would be willing to provide your ideas and suggestions in the next few years? >> i would be happy to be part of that. i'm a priest, and a catholic. i feel that god works through the goodwill of people. and that he trusts in us. i experienced that he trusted in me. i experienced the one i trust in
my students, they give the best of themselves -- that when i trust in my students, they give the best of themselves. according to the vision which i have tried to pass on to them, they accepted according to what they want. but to make a different kind of relationship and defend values about life together -- i believe talents and richness in taiwan could be more appreciated in the larger world. taiwan choose diplomatic relationships for that, so we have to find another way. that is very stimulating. not only the business, but diplomacy, another kind of link. the volunteering, the service,
cooperation is something that taiwan could teach to the world as well to have a successful experience about that. >> like all the students who have been on the trip with you for the past five years, we appreciate the work that you have been doing and -- in taiwan . >> we need to take the final break on our program. we will be right back.
>> welcome back to the final part of today's program on "taiwan outlook." we will continue our conversation with jean-pascal lombart, supervisor of international student volunteer groups at the national tsing hua university. you have been in taiwan since 1998 but before coming here, you have worked in places like paris, ireland, tanzania, and rome. how do you compare these experiences before coming to taiwan with the experiences you have had in taiwan for the past 15 years? >> all those experiences have prepared me for what i am doing in taiwan. the first thing was to learn to live my own background and be attentive to what is happening in the place and take the means
to integrate in taiwan. the second thing was, taiwan was much more foreign to my background than the other places . in particular, through the language. the language is a reflection of a deeper culture. taking the time to learn the language, i had two years full- time to learn mandarin chinese, which was really a privilege. most foreigners do not have so much time. at the same time, it was an effort to integrate in taiwan and be adopted by the taiwanese people. it's a two-way process. without the hospitality received, one would not find a home in taiwan. that is my experience.
also, i discovered that nothing is lost on the way. being in france, ireland, rome, tanzania -- all this is going to be used in my service in taiwan. that is next. that brings gratefulness because you feel, god is using me in his own way to do something which maybe i had not foreseen and which is even better than my dreams. when i start a new step in my journey, i still have this belief that what i have learned develop it and put it in the service of another project again, and i will see greater fruits. >> we are keeping our fingers crossed. we are confident you will be successful in all your future endeavors. we understand that in addition to tanzania and sierra leone,
you recently returned from a trip to vietnam. are you thinking of organizing another project on vietnam, and how would it be different from the ones available in africa? >> i came back from vietnam last night. >> you don't look a bit jetlagged. [laughter] >> i've been in taiwan for the past 12 years every year. i have a program to sponsor poor children's school fees. i'm happy to say i have 300 children in vietnam. the families are too poor to provide school fees. instead of fixing the house or bringing rice to this house, we want to allow the children to prepare for the future, to stand up and make decisions for themselves. i believe education is one of
the most respectful ways of helping people. now, could i take volunteers to vietnam? why not? but there are difficulties. the first one is the language. vietnamese, i did not even try to learn it. >> it is a very difficult language. [laughter] >> it's not easy for foreigners to stay in the countryside. the government does not like that. mitch -- very much. being a priest is not the best position to do things openly. i believe they know what i'm doing. they respect it, and they allow me to do it, but i don't want to attract too much attention. i continue. it is a bridge because taiwanese students, senior high school
students are sponsoring children in vietnam. i go back to that school and i tell them the story of those children. that is the other part of my project, which is to open the mind of the students in taiwan, that they can change the world of one child in vietnam thrugh small contribution. you don't change the whole world. but if you change the world for one person at a time and you have 300 of them, you do make an impact. i hope this will continue. i know it will continue. >> given the fact the you have been in taiwan since 1998, you must've seen a lot of changes in taiwan. would you mind sharing some of these changes, based on your own observation? >> when you're at home, you don't see the changes as much as -- when i go back to france, the
changes strike me because i have been away for a long time. taiwan is my home. the change is gradual. i would say, taiwanese people are more careful about their living environment. pollution was very high. the urban setting was very congested. i can say that i am more confident that i know where i live better than my hometown and i like the way it has developed over the years. it is more open city, there is more space. there has been improvement. it is society also, which is opening up to building its future both here in taiwan. we are here to stay. when you are here to stay you
think, what am i leaving to my children and grandchildren? the environment, the values, the respect, building up of a society that is caring also. and also, taiwanese opening up to the world. being part of different economic agreements and trying to get into international organizations. taiwan has a lot to contribute. i believe taiwan has a lot to contribute to china, just as we can learn from them. i believe that if we can build those bridges an equal footing, mutual respect, that is a wonderful thing. both with china, the u.s., europe, africa. we kind of feel that the u.s. is big, we are small.
africa is even smaller. let's learn to see each other on an equal level. we have a lot to learn from each other. >> given the fact that you have been involved in student volunteer groups in the last five or six years, how do you think the younger generation's attitude towards international volunteerism has changed over the last five years? are they more interested, motivated to do the kind of programs that you offer? >> i think so. the image of a volunteer, it was kind of travel volunteer. you travel and you take a few days to help something. what i have tried to promote is that they are two different things. the best quality of service, we give you the best traveling experience -- but you have to focus on the quality of your service.
i feel the taiwanese students realize that they cannot ask society to support them just to travel. but if society sees the value of what they are doing both for people in africa and tanzania, sierra leone, and for taiwanese society, coming back they are and add value -- an added value for taiwan. i think taiwanese have this experience of having been helped in the past whe was poor, and this gratefulness is a normal feeling to pay back. >> it has been wonderful having you here on the program today, father. i want to wish you all the best in our your future -- all your future endeavors. thank you for watching our program today. i will see you next time on micro view television.
welcome to "newsline." the standoff in egypt continues between the interim government and supporters of ousted president mohamed morsi. u.s. and egyptian officials are holding talks to try to avert bloodshed. william burns met senior officials in cairo on sunday. he's believed to be trying to persuade them not