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Working holidays help explore life possibilities: Taiwanese youth

2012/09/19 21:48:35

Taipei, Sept. 19 (CNA) A group of Taiwanese young adults shared their experiences at a seminar Wednesday of going on working holidays abroad, describing them as opportunities to explore life's possibilities and challenge themselves.

The issue of working holidays abroad has recently drawn widespread attention amid concerns that Taiwan is becoming a labor-exporting country, as an increasing number of young people are leaving low-paying Taiwan to work as laborers in higher-paying countries such as Australia through the working holiday program.

However, participants in the seminar, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said they saw their working holidays as a way of broadening their horizons and allowing them to experience a different culture.

The young adults shared their stories of life overseas with prospective applicants for the working holiday program.

Yang Hui-yu, who visited Australia on a working holiday last year, said it was a worthwhile experience, even though she had some unpleasant times, such as being exploited by an employer during her first months there.

Later, however, she found other jobs, she said, adding that she used the money she earned to travel around the country and learn more about Australian culture.

Yang encouraged young people to pluck up their courage to experience a different world.

Another participant on the Australian working holiday program was Mouse Wang, who said he made the decision to go there in 2008 because he wanted to "challenge himself."

Wang said that during his time there, he did a number of different jobs, including working as a housekeeper and painter.

Through those experiences, "I learned a lot in different fields," he said.

Lin Yen-chieh, who went on a one-year working holiday in Canada in 2010, said he became more active in chasing his dreams that year.

He said that although one of his jobs in Canada was as a chef's assistant in a restaurant, he did not see himself as a Taiwanese laborer.

It was just a way to earn money to cover his day-to-day expenses, he noted.

Inspired by his experience in Canada, he said, he decided to follow his dream of making a documentary after he returned to Taiwan last year.

Lin is now preparing to depart again for Canada in October to make a documentary on Taiwanese young people who go on working holidays there.

So far, Taiwan has working holiday agreements with Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Under the reciprocal agreements, Taiwanese young people are issued with special visas that allow them to live and work in these countries for up to a year, a privilege that is extended by the Taiwanese authorities to young people from the participating countries. Those who choose the U.K. as a working holiday destination, meanwhile, can stay and work there for up to two years.

(By Elaine Hou)