Natural Disasters Youth Summit - Taiwan

On March 11th,2009, two students and a teacher from St Paul's Anglican Grammar School were waving excited goodbyes at Melbourne Airport. Sponsored by iEARN Australia, Becky Wootton and Ann Southall (year 10 students) and Coralie Esbert (teacher) were on their way to participate in the Natural Disaster Youth Summit, in Taiwan.

We arrived in Kaohsiung city on Thursday night, and were warmly welcomed by Doris Wu, the Taiwan Team coordinator, and the host parents. Becky and Ann went to stay with their respective host families. On Friday we all met again at the National Feng Hsin Senior High School, where Ann and Becky presented themselves at the school assembly. A fun filled day of experiencing Taiwanese school life was in store! We visited several classes and met lots of curious Taiwanese students. In the afternoon we visited the local Primary school and learnt how to make shadow puppets, a traditional art form.

On Saturday, the Natural Disaster Youth Summit conference began. Hundreds of students from primary and secondary schools, and from several different countries all met together in a communal and excited atmosphere. Present were teams from Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, and of course, Australia. The conference was very well organised and the day progressed very smoothly. The morning included presentations from the various NDYS teams, about different natural disasters that affected their communities. The theme of the conference revolved around how communities coped with a natural disaster before, during and after the event. The Australian team presented on Bushfires, with particular reference to the Black Saturday fires. The afternoon included a film on Taiwanese traditional stories, making an Earthquake proof house, and painting a wall mural. Saturday night we all had fun at a party, where all teams had the chance to present an act representing their culture.

On Sunday we had the chance to visit some of the beautiful Taiwanese country-side as we travelled to the Earthquake museum. Ten years ago, an Earthquake ravaged the area and destroyed many structures in the district and the local government decided to erect the museum as a memorial. The museum was an awe-inspiring site, clearly showing the damage that occurred, and how the community had rebuilt and survived.

We left on Monday morning, reeling from our short but extra-ordinary experience. The NDYS was a fantastic chance to meet lots of new people from so many different communities, share our experiences and learn from each other. We would like to warmly thank the Taiwanese iEARN Team for their wonderful organisation, generosity and friendship. We shall always remember our time in Taiwan and thank iEARN Australia for their sponsorship and support.

For more information or to join iEARN Australia, contact iEARN Australia