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ELIV is the most enthusiastic social enterprise!
From the very beginning of Project Taiwan at the information session, to departing, working, dining, and even giving nightly feedback, you can feel the detailed care and effort ELIV Team Leaders give to each and every volunteer member; under their guidance, everyone quickly adapted to working in Taitung! ELIV helped us to better understand our society, to look carefully at what we could do to help the people in poverty, a task that can only be done by a truly trustworthy organization! Please remember that ELIV is definitely not a travel agency, it is more than that, it is a social enterprise that is fully equipped with the most professional team!
Project Taiwan is truly an unforgettable volunteer trip! No work is easy, but we put in maximum effort and got rewarded for stepping out of our comfort zone and trying new things; the days we spent building the “coffee house” at the BookHouse for children of Taitung were all done to ensure the children will have stable career opportunities one day, allowing them to stand independent and successful. Always thinking of Taiwan as a developed tourist heaven, I never knew that behind the gilded appearance there are children who go hungry and have no caretakers. It was the stories behind the BookHouse that made me understand how fortunate, yet, at the same time, how tiny we are, living privileged lives but not knowing to cherish them. I hope that one day I will have the chance again to dedicate my abilities and time to Project Taiwan!
There is an unspeakable power in Nepal—a country that is as passionate as India, as mysterious as Tibet, and as pious as Bhutan. It is located on the roof of the world. With its mountainous landscape, it is named home to many mountains.
Leaving boisterous Kathmandu and on the way to the peaceful and primitive mountain area, I tried to act like a local. I simplified my living and eating habits, slowed down my life pace, and found simple happiness everywhere.
I opened my heart, dancing and singing with local children. I walked barefoot on muddy grass, and felt touched when I learned how to milk a cow. I ate with my hand, drank hot milk tea, and realized it is not that there is no beauty in my life, but the lack of finding it. Here under the wide and open sky, I enjoyed the natural scenery and experienced local culture. I cherished each moment for being there and kept unforgettable memories in my mind.
When embracing the nature, I also think about how people should cherish and protect it. I felt grateful that on the journey, I met many friends, including foreigners, local women and promising young leaders, who have been working hard to study permaculture and promote the idea of environmental protection. What they have done leads me to realize that we can minimize damages while pursing development.
Even though we are visitors from abroad, we put our utmost efforts to share Taiwan’s experiences in green policies and promote green activities, such as petition for prohibiting use of plastic bags. We hope those green ideas would spread, like seeds would grow and bloom, so that more people could harvest the benefits done by us.
I am grateful for what I have seen and the impacts I felt during the journey. The collection of memories during the journey will definitely motivate me to work harder. I would like to thank my teammates and team leaders for our helping each other, cooperating, and accomplishing tasks that we thought we would never be able to do. What is more is that we share unforgettable memories. I also want to thank Nepal for leading me to see the other side of myself, enjoy the beautiful corner of the world, and find more love and hopes in my life.
Working with ELIV has been such a significant part of my life in the past few years. I could still remember my first ELIV trip: during the summer after freshmen year, our entire family decided to go on a volunteer trip abroad in Cambodia. I went on the trip thinking that I was on a mission to change lives and make a difference in the world; little did I know, I was wrong. The trip opened my eyes and introduced me to a side of the world that I was never exposed to. I also did so many things for the first time and felt overwhelmed with content and passion. For the first time, I witnessed my dad shed tears when he saw that a Cambodian kid’s wish list included only shampoo and tooth paste, the things that we view as basic necessities back in Taiwan. For the first time, I really reflected on what I’m passionate about in life after working tirelessly for several days in the village. For the first time, I felt the strong urge to return to a place that has changed me so dramatically.
Next summer, I applied to be a team leader for ELIV, wanting to give back and share my experiences with those similar to me. At the age of only sixteen, I was the youngest team leader at ELIV – the thought frightened me initially. When I got the team roster a few weeks before my first trip, I realized that all my team members are older than me. However, despite the age differences, I was ready to meet and lead a group of diverse people from all over Taiwan. Going back to Cambodia for the second time felt different yet familiar; the way the villagers took me in and made friends deeply affected me. It was touching to watch my team members feel accomplished after building bathrooms or interacting with local Cambodian children. However, what amazes me the most was a sense of passion and empowerment from all my team members: some talked about coming back (and perhaps being a team leader), while others expressed their gratitude and wanted to spread the word when they go back to Taiwan. I believe this indefinitely expanding driving force is what makes ELIV and its trips so life-changing.
To sum it up, the feeling of contentment for me in Cambodia came from working with people I care about and taking a part in incremental improvements that affect them. What I experienced in the villages made me realize how the simplest of interactions can provoke great change. Instead of worrying about the extent of influence, I work towards reaching out and caring about the people around me. This helped me so much in identifying what I like doing and helped me answer the question of “who am I?” when dealing with college applications. So many essay prompts on colleg appications ask about your favorite experiences, your favorite locations, what you love doing…etc, and the first thing that came to mind for me was obviously my time in Cambodia. I believe the trips that I went on deeply influenced me as an individual and molded me into a more comprehensive person – which lead to my acceptance to Northwestern University.