•Source： Taiwan Today
•By Grace Kuo
A two-week homestay program allowing more than 200 youths from around the world to experience Taiwan’s vibrant culture firsthand culminated Aug. 24 with cultural performances and local delicacies at the Grand Hotel, according to the Council for Cultural Affairs.
“The program was the first among all activities celebrating the ROC centenary to be approved by the Cabinet,” ROC Premier Wu Den-yih said. “Nearly 250 families were goodwill ambassadors, showing young people from around the world the down-to-earth side of Taiwan and letting them experience the country’s friendship.
“These youths not only had a great time in Taiwan, but more importantly, they have become Taiwan’s most sincere friends,” Wu stressed.
Danelle Deolin Coetzee, a 27-year-old South African, said on her blog that during her stay in Taiwan, she visited Shifen in New Taipei City, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, the Postal Museum, Zhinan Temple and night markets.
She said making and launching a sky lantern at Shifen really touched her. “No matter your religion, if you believe your prayers are going to God, and that lantern goes up, it gives you the most fulfilling feeling ever.”
According to Coetzee, Taiwan is “so rich in culture, laden in tradition and abundant in history. It is a tourist destination at first, a people magnet in the end.”
Kristin Schoenfelder, a 40-year-old German journalist, said she had never thought of Taiwan as a tourist attraction before her trip, but now she realizes that Taiwan is a diverse place where one can hike, cycle and swim. She will write about her cultural experiences here after returning to Germany, she said.
Liliya Sabirova, a 22-year-old from Kazakhstan, said, “I am amazed by great hospitality of people in Taiwan—in every corner people trying to give you food, drinks, presents and their smiles; not everybody speaks English but you can see how hard sometimes people are trying to speak with you.”
According to the CCA, 238 youths from 115 countries participated in the program, with some experiencing how to sell bubble milk tea or how to make steamed dumplings. Vice Premier Sean Chen was among the host families, the CCA added.
Please visit the program’s official website at http://taiwanroc100.tw/100homestay_en/Blog_Vote.aspx?n=249 to read participants’ blogs. (THN)
Write to Grace Kuo at firstname.lastname@example.org