iProj 2017: Taiwanese Scouts & the Digital Divide

By Brian Asin

The Digital Divide Volunteer Initiative is an ongoing program organized by local Taiwanese Rover Scouts. The Digital Divide is a socio-economic concept that describes the gap in the access to modern information and technology. Though this is most easily understood using comparisons between developed and less developed countries, it also applies to people in rural areas who have less of an advantage in comparison to those living in bigger cities.

Today, we joined Rover Scouts from the Changhua area on their regular Digital Divide Workshop. We drove an hour out of Changhua to the Chao Xing Elementary School, where we met with school children who were between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. Knowing that we were coming to this school, the Taiwanese Scouts running this program planned for a day that was more focused on Canadian culture and Scouting. This was an opportunity for the kids to experience what Scouting is like in another country, and to learn trivia about technology in Canada.

During the day, we did some hands-on projects, including the S.T.E.M.-focused pioneering activity using spaghetti and marshmallows. The tallest tower reached 64 cm. We later all sewed our own stuffed animals. These types of arts and crafts are another integral part of the Canadian Beaver Program because they help kids develop focus and perseverance.

We shared a series of activities from our Beaver Scouts and Cub Scouts programs with the young students and Taiwanese Scouts. Many of our contingent members are currently or were previously involved in Home Groups back in Vancouver, so they had a nostalgic experience working with kids again. It was particularly entertaining because rather than having small 3 ft. children perform their closing ceremonies, it was a group of full sized adults running towards and around each other. By the end of the day, the kids were naturals at jumping up from their seats and yelling “This is an action song!”

We asked some of the Section Leaders how they felt about today’s activities. Kevin Heung, the department head of Scout Group Support, and Lester Lo, a Scouter for this department, were asked to compare how leading these kids were different from leading our Scouts back at home:

Lester : They were definitely enthusiastic and active. Even though it was a Sunday and they normally wouldn’t be at school, they quickly got into the mood and had a lot of fun screaming at the top of their lungs for our action songs and games. This may be because we do it so often with our own Colony and Pack, that we sometimes feel like we have to work a lot harder to ramp up the youth’s energy back at home. It was nice to see that these activities can still be a blast for kids.

Kevin:  Kids in Taiwan experience Scouting as a school-based activity as opposed to a community-based one like it is for our Scout Groups. Perhaps the difference in the way we presented our Scouting activities got them more excited than we expected.

Lester: Even though I’ve been a Scouter for a long time and have led games and songs with youth on international projects before, it is a pleasure every time to see the beaming smiles that we are able to put on their faces. Moments like these remind me why I want to be a Scouter, with the impact I can have on the kids, which drives me to continue improving myself to be better and create better programs for our youth.

Kevin: For me, it was my first time being on an International Service Project (iProj, for short) and to have this kind of cultural exchange. There was a bit of a culture shock. We also noticed that kids here definitely are eager to learn. I hope that they picked up a thing or two about how Scouting is like Canada from today’s exchange program, and that this will lead them to become a Scout or a better global citizen in the future.

A common practice during this international service project has been to exchange postcards with the Scouts that we spend the day with. Near the end, we sat down to write out a message of gratitude to each of the children that we paired with. Even though I was very tired, I had a huge grin on my face at the end of this service. It was great seeing the amount of fun we can bring to their school day. At times, the Beavers and Cubs would admit to us that their weekly Scouting program would always be the highlight of their week. We wish these Taiwanese Scouts all the best with their Digital Divide program, and thank you again for having us as guest volunteers!

 

Follow us on our 6th international service project, and keep an eye out for our daily vlogs!

Brian Asin

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