The first democratic nation in Asia, the island of Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Located off the eastern shore of China, Taiwan is a hidden gem, sometimes overlooked by some of its larger neighboring countries. Those who choose to volunteer in Taiwan will be provided with a glimpse into its unique blend of cultural contrasts as well as the chance to address cultural, social, and political challenges by supporting local projects pertaining to social work, education, or community outreach.
Known as one of the most underrated destinations in Asia, Taiwan boasts sandy beaches, beautiful mountains, dense jungles, and flowing waterfalls, and that’s just the landscape! Taiwan is well known as one of the most welcoming countries in the world, so you are bound to come across acts of kindness and generosity throughout your volunteering in Taiwan.
Taipei. Most individuals that decide to volunteer in Taiwan start their exploration with the capital and largest city, Taipei. This 300 year old city has a mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Western cultural influences in its food, architecture, and arts. While volunteering in Taipei, check out the historical temples, buzzing city centers with cafés and boutiques, and the growing nightlife. Taipei is bursting from the seams with Taiwanese culture, so you’ll experience the culture though any of the city’s plethora of volunteer opportunities.
Tainan. Located in the most traditional part of the island, Tainan welcomes visitors with its mix of old and new as the culture capital of Taiwan. It is a modern city filled with ancient historical landmarks. As one of the oldest cities in the country, traditionalists thrive on the enduring culture that lives on through its festivals, ceremonies, shrines, and temples. For an insider look at the nation’s history, look into volunteering in Tainan within a community that truly hopes to preserve the past.
Kaohsiung. Talk about urban revival! Kaohsiung has been transformed from an industrial town into a modern city full of cafés, community parks, and public transportation. As a volunteer in Kaohsiung you can take time to enjoy the urban landscape, which also includes two beaches, all within walking distance!
Volunteer Programs in Taiwan
Volunteering abroad in Taiwan allows you to travel with a purpose, in order to have a positive impact on local communities. However, let’s not forget that your time abroad should be a learning experience for you as well! As you volunteer in Taiwan you will gain many personal experiences, as families and individuals share their culture and lifestyle with you. You’ll have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of Taiwan’s political issues, rich history, diverse culture, and various religions through every interaction.
While volunteering in Taiwan, volunteers can work on various community development projects. More specifically, there is a great deal of opportunities to volunteer with children and youth from underprivileged families, whether organizing activities, creating educational workshops, or assisting them with their homework. As a volunteer in Taiwan, you can also spend your time in placements more geared toward your professional career, such as by assisting with physical and speech therapy for individuals with disabilities. If all else fails, or you just have an interest in the most popular fields, there are plenty of opportunity to volunteer in Taiwan in education and social services.
Volunteer work in Taiwan ranges in length from seven to twelve months; the longer you commit, the greater your impact on the local community can be. Mandarin is the official language of Taiwan and therefore widely spoken throughout the country. However, knowing the local language is not mandatory to participate in volunteer programs in Taiwan (though now’s as good a time as any to try your luck at learning this fascinating language!).
Costs & Affordability
The cost of living in Taiwan varies depending on the area you move to and, of course, your lifestyle. For those interested in spending time enjoying the natural beauty of the island nation by hiking and swimming in its sandy beaches, you may experience less of a financial burden than those interested in viewing historical landmarks and museums. On average, Taiwan is fairly affordable; you can buy a dozen eggs for less than $2 or buy a meal at a mid-range restaurant for about $10. Tip: choose chopsticks for your meals to avoid temptations of eating more expensive, Western-style dishes.
Volunteer programs in Taiwan offer a range of packages depending on where you are going and for how long. Some programs offer quite extensive packages to volunteers, which include a pre-departure training, food and housing in your host country, medical insurance, in country orientation, language training and monthly stipends.
If you are looking to find assistance in covering some of the program costs, check out various scholarships and grants provided to individuals interested in traveling abroad to Taiwan. You can also get family and friends to support your volunteer adventures through crowdfunding platforms like FundMyTravel.
Accommodation & Visas
Most volunteer programs in Taiwan offer home-stays as living arrangements. Luckily, most volunteers will not have to worry about finding a place to live, as regardless of style, accommodation is almost always included in packaged program fees.
Unfortunately, you may not get too much assistance from your program provider when it comes to applying for your visa, other than a list of basic requirements. If you plan on volunteering in Taiwan, you’ll need to visit the Taiwan Bureau of Consular Affairs website or contact a Taiwanese embassy closest to you to see what is needed before you embark on your volunteer adventure.
Benefits & Challenges
As a volunteer abroad in Taiwan, you will have the opportunity to expand your adventurous spirit and become more open minded. Volunteering abroad in Taiwan will give you the chance to collaborate and live with local communities and hopefully leave you with a passion for meeting new people and helping others.
One of the major challenges you will face as a volunteer in Taiwan is the language barrier. If you do not speak Mandarin, it is possible to successfully conduct volunteer work in Taiwan, but it will be more difficult for you to start conversations with locals, which could create a barrier in your daily interactions.
You’re probably reading all of this info (and getting some serious wanderlust) while utilizing a device made in Taiwan; why not take it back to its motherland? When you aren’t sipping on Taiwanese milk tea, allow yourself to discover and learn new things about the world around you. Volunteering in Taiwan will enrich your life as you enrich the lives of others.