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NSYSU welcomed indigenous elementary school pupils for graduation trip


To promote higher education among primary school pupils, National Sun Yat-sen University welcomed nine six graders of the Tongmen Elementary School in Siou-Lin Township, Hualien County, to visit the campus. The visit introduced the pupils to the University's study environment and showed them the beautiful campus views. NSYSU hopes for the pupils to come back as university students in the future.

Principal Chin-Tsung Huang of the Tongmen Elementary School said that Tongmen is a small aboriginal school established over 100 years ago. Most of its alumni start working right after graduating from vocational high school because of various conditions such as intergenerational upbringing and poor financial situation, and only about 3% of them pursue higher education. This year, to spur the imagination of pupils about to graduate, the school’s substitute teacher Mr. Tsung-Hsin Ti, who is also an alumnus of NSYSU, and Associate Professor Hua-Mei Chiu of NSYSU Department of Sociology arranged the School’s graduation trip to NSYSU. This broke the school’s usual practice of visiting other elementary schools in the city for exchange. The trip aimed at opening students’ eyes and helping them set ambitious goals for the future.

NSYSU Vice President for Student Affairs Ching-Li Yang pointed out that Mr. Ti, who grew up in the rural area in Hualien County, graduated from NSYSU Department of Sociology. In high school, he was tutored by a university student and, having been admitted to the University, he decided to return to Hualien's rural areas as a teacher after graduation and change rural students’ lives through education. As a teacher, he discovered that in the past, Tongmen Elementary School would organize graduation trips to other elementary schools in the west of Taiwan and this would only make pupils realize that their school does not have what other schools have and so they would compare themselves constantly. Thus, he organized a graduation trip to his alma mater to enlarge pupils’ perspective and not let them only concentrate on the differences in resources between the rural and urban areas. After receiving the offer from Tongmen Elementary School, NSYSU welcomed the pupils to come for a visit.

Under the guidance of NSYSU professors of the Department of Sociology, the indigenous pupils visited NSYSU’s Indigenous Students Resources Center, learned about environmental sustainability visiting the solar panels and organic vegetable garden on the rooftop of the College of Social Sciences, experienced printing big-catch flags – the culture of Cijin, Gushan, and Yancheng area, and together with NSYSU President Ying-Yao Cheng and Vice President Ching-Li Yang, they visited the University campus and Sizihwan Bay. The pupils also gave a music performance playing traditional wooden xylophones of the Taroko indigenous group for NSYSU students and teachers to enjoy a music feast.

"The richer the life experiences elementary school students gain during their growth, the more positively inspired for their future life development they will be," said President Cheng, adding that the aboriginal students of Tongmen Elementary School have been living in the Cilai Mountain since they were young, living unrestrainedly and with an enthusiastic personality. Talking to their teachers, they would learn about higher education and be expected to continue their education at the university level, however, in spite of this, they would still have a sense of distance between themselves and the university education. NSYSU hopes to have given the pupils a better understanding of what it is like to study at university and changed their vision of what a university is.
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