Vincentians in Taiwan call for diplomatic representation
October 23, 2012
Vincentians in Taiwan call for diplomatic representation

Vincentians in Taiwan are hoping that they will have formal representation in that country, to address some of their concerns.{{more}}

The Vincentians met with a delegation of visiting media professionals from St Vincent and the Grenadines during a dinner in Taipei this month.

And Vincentians in the Asian nation said they have concerns that can be addressed if Kingstown set up a consulate or embassy in Taipei.

They say the St Kitts and Nevis embassy — through Ambassador Jasmine Huggins, who has Vincentian roots — assists at times.

But the students said a Vincentian envoy would address matters that they or Huggins might not be able to deal with.

Vincentian journalist Peggy Carr, an editor at Taiwan’s Central News Agency, told SEARCHLIGHT that students sometimes find it hard to negotiate personal or academic issues with their universities, and may need consulate assistance.

She further said when it is time to return to SVG for good, students have to pay a lot of money to ship their books and personal effects.

“For my part, I would say yes, I know that we have these problems, students from other countries have these problems, but for Taiwan, it is particularly severe because of the distance,” said Carr, who has been living in Taiwan for almost 10 years.

“What you would pay to ship your books from the United States, from Canada, from England, the Caribbean or even from South America, would probably be a fraction of what it would cost to ship from here. So I really think that some kind of special consideration should be given to these students,” she further said.

Carr further said some of the students have to do in university an English programme “designed for students for whom English is their second language.

“So for those students who are coming from an English speaking country, it is like doing elementary school English. And they think that they should be exempt from having to do that particular course. But in a lot of the programmes it’s mandatory and they don’t like it and they think it’s a waste of their time,” she further said.

Carr, who plays a role in assisting the students, pointed out that there are more than 30 Vincentian students studying in over 10 universities in Taiwan, in a number of disciplines, for periods of between two and five years.

The students are reading for degrees in international business, computer science, information technology, agriculture, architecture, aeronautics, tourism, and, among others, communications.

She said opportunities abound for Vincentians who are willing to work and study in Taiwan.

“There are lots of scholarship opportunities. Some people come here from elsewhere and they get scholarships offered by the universities, because they are trying to expand their international student body.

“So, if you have a good resume, chances are that you could get a scholarship and in particular if you are not stuck on the idea of living in Taipei. If you are willing to live outside Taipei (the capital city), then you could get scholarships.

“We actually have a couple students here who have graduated from the government scholarship programme and they are doing master’s degrees now and they have been granted scholarships from the school,” Carr said.

“The work ethic here is very much different to what it is in the Caribbean. You are expected to be on your job on time; sometimes you are asked to stay on well after the end of your workday, and when you are on the job, you really have to work. It’s a totally different work ethic. So, unless you come to work, then it could be a very difficult place to work, but the opportunities are there,” she added.

“… since St Vincent started sending students here back in 2004, the quality of students that we have been getting here has been really high. Vincentian students generally excel in universities in Taiwan. That is something we should be proud of.

“We don’t have students who get into trouble with the law; it’s been really good. I think the students here have really done the country proud,” Carr said.