A Journey into my volunteering experience as a Nigerian student in Taiwan: My personal experience

Ismail Rabiu
Doctoral Degree student, Dept. of Biomedical Science, KMU
Bayero University Kano, M.Sc. Microbiology

Sharing one’s volunteering experience is a powerful way to inspire others, raise awareness about a cause, and showcase the impact of community service. No wonder, that the United Nations has designated the 2023 theme of the International Volunteer Day as “The Power of Everyone – Collective Action – If Everyone Did.”

During my four-month stay in the city of Kaohsiung, studying at Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU), I had the privilege of exploring various places in Taiwan. From the renowned Research Institute of Academia Sinica in Taipei to the Formosa Food and Lifestyle Market, Weiwuying Metropolitan Park, and diverse Taiwanese restaurants and night markets, each experience exposed me to the rich tapestry of Taiwanese culture, food, and the warm hospitality of its people.

This journey began when I first arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, faced with the challenge of navigating my way to the far south, all the way to KMU. Despite language barriers, a hefty load, and the absence of mobile network access, the people I encountered were remarkably willing to assist. Thanks to my adept hand gestures, many different individuals generously covered my train and bus tickets. Their warm gestures of welcome, expressed in unfamiliar Chinese words, left me truly amazed and grateful. The experience was truly amazing.

Exploring Taiwanese Culture in Various Aspects
Excursion to Weiwuying park

These experiences have fueled my commitment to strengthen my community service skills, which I’ve learnt and practiced in Nigeria. They have inspired me to brainstorm innovative ways to contribute to the Taiwan society, the ever-generous people that supported me in my time of need.

December 5th, designated by the United Nations, is a day to celebrate and commemorate all volunteers and communicate our volunteering activities to inspire others. Thanks to KMU-International Volunteer Sharing Day, organized by KMU under the Office of Global Affairs, a platform was provided for volunteers to share their experiences with the broader university community, with the University President and Vice president in attendance.

This article delves into my volunteer experience in three phases: “My Volunteer Experience at Jhong Jheng High School (JJHS) – Kaohsiung under the Joint Hands Together Project (JHTP),” “My Experience with Taiwanese Culture,” and “A Brief Insight into Africa, Nigeria, and Their Culture.”

The JHTP, a collaborative initiative between KMU and JJHS, offers international students the opportunity to engage in various community services for high school students. From October 23rd to November 13th, 2023, I participated in organized field trips, conducted insightful current affairs discussions focusing on Nigeria and Africa, and engaged in a student cooking competition. During the competition, I prepared and introduced high school students to diverse African and Nigerian foods such as “Bobab soup with stew,” “Tuwo,” and “Egusi soup with fish,” among others.

Visual aids were used to showcase different Nigerian cultures and costumes (Hausa, Yoruba, Fulani, and Igbo). Lectures about the history of Africa and Nigeria, highlighting various minerals and human resources, left a lasting impact. The students’ enthusiasm and interest were unexpected, concluding with heartfelt pleas from both students and teachers for our return.

Students Cooking Competition
Lecturing Students about Nigeria & Their Food

My experience with Taiwanese culture has been rich and memorable. I’ve had the opportunity to savor various Taiwanese dishes and drinks, including Halal Meatball Dumplings, Taiwanese beef rice with stew, Pearl Milk Tea, Slender Noodles with Oysters, Tofu, and Ice Mango with Sago. Fridays were particularly special as I enjoyed these delights after our Jumuat prayers (Muslims large congregational prayers on Fridays) at the Weiwuying Central Mosque, just a few miles from our campus. This moment allowed me to connect with fellow Nigerians across Taiwan and Muslim friends from different parts of Africa and the globe.

I encourage all students at KMU and worldwide to commit to ensuring that everyone can contribute to shaping a better future for all people and the planet we share. Let’s stand with volunteers everywhere. Remember, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and together we can change the world.

Presentation about African & Nigerian Culture and Foods
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