TAIPEI (CNA) — A 12-member Taiwanese delegation of teen diplomatic envoys is set to visit Indonesia and New Zealand for 11 days at the end of the month as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA’s) Teen Diplomatic Envoys Program.
The delegation, made up of students from three senior high schools which finished in the top three places in a series of English proficiency competitions held over the past three months, attended a send-off ceremony at the ministry on Monday.
The delegation will be headed by MOFA counselor Wu Wen-ling (吳文齡) and the Teen Diplomatic Envoys will visit Jakarta, Wellington and Auckland from Jan. 30 to Feb. 10, where they will engage in academic and cultural exchanges with local high schools and non-government organizations.
More then 400 students from 109 schools participated in the nationwide search for the 2019 Teen Diplomatic Envoys, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at the ceremony.
Ou encouraged the delegation to show their new friends in the two countries the best of Taiwan and share with them Taiwan’s values of democracy and freedom.
She also said Indonesia and New Zealand are two important partners of Taiwan under its New Southbound Policy, a program that seeks to enhance people-to-people exchanges with Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Asian countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand.
Aimee Jephson, deputy director of New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office Taipei, and Fajar Nuradi, a director-level official at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei, attended the ceremony.
The indigenous Māori people in New Zealand are believed to have genetic links with Taiwan’s indigenous peoples and a bilateral economic agreement in effect since 2013, has resulted in growth of about 27 percent in trade, Jephson said.
Moreover, there are currently 270,000 Indonesians studying or working in Taiwan, while roughly 20,000 Taiwanese businessmen live in Indonesia, according to MOFA. In addition, Indonesia is Taiwan’s 15th largest trading partner as of 2018.
Lai Jing-ting, (賴靖婷), one of the Teen Diplomatic Envoys, said she will proudly promote Taiwan’s values of freedom and democracy by telling the students she meets about Taiwan’s just concluded 2020 presidential and legislative elections.
On a lighter note, Lai said she is very excited to visit Hobbiton, where the movie “Lord of the Rings” was filmed.
The Teen Diplomatic Envoys Program was first launched in 2002 to encourage young people to focus more on international affairs, according to MOFA.
The program also aims to improve English communication skills among high school students, so that they can better promote international cultural exchanges in the future, MOFA said.
Over the past 18 years, more than 200 students have been sent to countries in Asia, Europe, America and Oceania as Teen Diplomatic Envoys, the ministry said.