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Learn to surf and pay your tuition by collecting trash on the beach

(Report by student journalist) Student of the Department of Mechanical and Electro-Mechanical Engineering at National Sun Yat-sen University Yuan-Heng Tsai is passionate about surfing and the marine environment, and this is why he decided to take action! He offers professional surfing classes free of charge and is recruiting right now. The participants are not required to have any surfing experience nor prepare their own equipment and they pay the “tuition fee” by collecting one bag of trash polluting the beach for every surfing class. In this way, Tsai hopes to promote both environmental awareness among the University students and the sport itself.

“NSYSU is the best place to learn surfing!”, he claims. NSYSU is the closest university to the ocean in Taiwan. In the summer, Sizihwan Bay is a great spot for beginner surfers. Besides, since the University has a College of Marine Sciences, which students tend to be more interested in water sports – they make up two-thirds of the participants. Tsai also discovered that many people don’t take up water sports, as they are often scared away by the high costs of surfing classes. Another concern is the pollution along the coast. To enjoy nature and give back to the ocean, Tsai started the “class-for-trash” project last year. He emphasizes that those with no experience in water sports can participate too and that it would be a pity not to give it a try while studying at NSYSU. As long as one is professionally instructed, surfing is not dangerous.

Tsai has been practicing surfing for four years. He can wake up early in the morning and ride a scooter for 8 hours just to chase good waves in a surfing spot in Taitung 400 km away. Tsai recalls that he felt very lonely, having nobody to share his passion with. When he started his studies at the University, the surfing club had just dissolved, so he wanted to find fellow surfers passionate about the ocean by teaching them for free, and act as an “alternative surfing club”. His team has started to expand recently, reaching an impressive number of 40 participants. Those who didn’t use to be very good at it, are now able to catch the wave, surf it and paddle. This gives Tsai a sense of achievement.

Tsai’s contribution to coastal environment protection and promotion of surfing has been steadily gaining acknowledgment, with businesses sponsoring surfing equipment. Also, Tsai has recently been invited by Si-Wan College to share his experience in a lecture. He also encouraged his listeners to pursue their dreams and never hesitate. He said, that in the past, he used to be a very pessimist person and was worried that nobody would be interested in his passion, and thus, for a long time, he didn’t want to invest his time in the promotion of surfing. But just when he started this project and his first post shared on Facebook got 600 likes, Tsai realized that there are many water sports aficionados around. He admitted that although there are some organizational problems, the like-minded fellow enthusiasts he met in the process are the biggest win. “I have friends to share the joy of surfing after a day on the beach”, he says.

(Photos provided by student of Department of Mechanical and Electro-Mechanical Engineering, NSYSU, Yuan-Heng Tsai)
(Edited by Public Affairs Division)

Note:

If you want to experience surfing and protect the marine environment together, search @westbaysurfing on Instagram for more information.
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