In the wake of a new set of challenges following the once-in-a-century pandemic, 2023 could be characterized as the " The Year of Revival" for post-pandemic overseas community affairs. Over the past year, heartfelt gratitude is especially owed to various leaders in the overseas communities who played pivotal roles after the pandemic. Their contributions were evident in numerous ways, ranging from advocating for Taiwan's involvement in international organizations across diverse sectors worldwide to the return of over 4,000 overseas compatriots to participate in National Day celebration events.
Taiwan's remarkable performance in numerous international rankings post-pandemic has instilled a sense of pride among overseas compatriots, strengthening their affiliation with the ROC (Taiwan). In response to steadfast support from the overseas community, the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) remains committed to upholding its administrative principles, including proactively communicating with the overseas community to understand their needs, collaborating with global compatriots to showcase Taiwan's strengths, utilizing government resources to foster mutual prosperity, and guiding the next generation of compatriots to deepen their identification with Taiwan. These guiding principles aim to introduce services needed by the overseas community, including initiatives to attract exceptional overseas compatriot students to Taiwan and to promote Mandarin Chinese education emphasizing Taiwan's distinctive features.
The following outlines the top 10 highlights of the year's overseas community affairs. This not only serves as a retrospective review of this year's achievements but also signifies a pivotal direction and objective for future initiatives in promoting overseas community affairs:
1.Record-High Enrollment in Industry-Academia Collaborative Overseas Student Program: Focused Efforts on Talent Cultivation and Retention
To further focus on the cultivation and retention of overseas students and align with the current population and immigration policies, the council has dedicated efforts to four main aspects : cultivating stable student base, increasing enrollment, providing in-school guidance, and offering employment assistance throughout the year. Our efforts have been dedicated to meeting our goals. As an example, over the nearly six years since the launch of the Industry-Academia Collaborative Overseas Student Program, there has been a substantial surge in total enrollment. In 2018, the enrollment was 1,711 students, whereas this year, it has reached 4,512 students, representing an outstanding 263% increase. This surge in enrollment has set a historic milestone, highlighting the program's appeal, especially in sectors like manufacturing, construction, institutional care (long-term care), agriculture, and e-commerce. These fields, aligned with the needs of domestic industries, embody an integration of theory and practice, making them highly attractive to young talents from Southeast Asia seeking to acquire specialized skill sets. Furthermore, in our efforts to cultivate diverse talent, the Council actively participates in policy dialogues and collaborates with key government agencies, including the National Development Council, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor, and Ministry of Economic Affairs. We aim to assess and improve various compatriot retention measures, optimize pathways and provide a career development platform for young overseas talents aspiring to pursue careers in Taiwan.
2.Expanding the Global Presence of Taiwan Centers, Showcasing Taiwan's Distinctive Features to the World
Given the growing interest in Mandarin language learning across Europe and the Americas, Taiwan and the United States have launched the Taiwan-U.S. Education Initiative to encourage collaborations. Taiwan's distinctive advantages in Mandarin language education serve as a solid foundation for our endeavors to expand the global market for Mandarin learning. The Council has actively launched the Overseas Mandarin Learning Cultivation Program. By the end of 2023, we've established a total of 66 Taiwan Center for Mandarin Learning Centers (TMLC) worldwide, with 54 in the United States, 2 in each of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, and 1 in each of Austria, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Czech Republic, and Hungary. These centers serve as vital hubs for Mandarin education, embodying Taiwan's unique strengths. Employing a pedagogical approach rooted in democratic principles and freedom, these centers amalgamate Taiwan's diverse and innovative cultural nuances to deepen strengthen connections between Taiwan and the global community. Moreover, they assist Taiwanese Mandarin educational institutions and the burgeoning smart education industry in expanding their global outreach efforts, propelling Taiwan's Mandarin culture onto the international stage.
3.Global Youth Volunteers gather in Taiwan: Bridging Taiwan with the World through English Teaching Volunteer Service Program for Overseas Youth
In response to the government's 2030 Bilingual Policy, the Council significantly expanded the implementation of the 2023 English Teaching Volunteer Service Programs for Overseas Youth. The initiative aimed to invite the younger generations of overseas compatriots, fostering a deeper understanding of the counter. This year's English Teaching Volunteer Service program welcomed 623 young volunteers from 23 countries. They participated in service activities across 94 junior and elementary schools, including 85 schools under the K-12 Education Administration, Ministry of Education, 6 Hakka language life schools designated by the Hakka Affairs Council, and 3 indigenous experimental schools under the Council of Indigenous Peoples. The program helped overseas youth volunteers explore careers and grow by offering volunteer opportunities in Taiwan. It also improved the global outlook and English skills of local students through teaching and curriculum planning. This collaboration allowed overseas young volunteers and local students to grow together in the program. In partnership with the Ministry of Education since 2006, this initiative now celebrates its 18th year, welcoming a cumulative total of 6,467 overseas youths back to Taiwan to participate in the program, benefiting over 43,000 domestic students.
4.Fostering Future Leaders: Advancing Youth Cultivation and Exchange Programs
To cultivate the future leaders of the overseas community, the Council has conducted the Formosa Association of Student Culture Ambassadors training programs across North America since 2011. Expanding our efforts from 2022 onwards, we have extended these programs to the Asia-Pacific, establishing FASCA training centers in countries like Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia. This expansion aims to foster young leaders of the next generation across diverse overseas regions. Furthermore, considering the mission of Senior FASCA (individuals aged 17 to 25 who have completed FASCA training) to pass on experiences and their pivotal role in sustaining and mentoring youth training, amidst the gradual alleviation of the pandemic in 2023, we organized the 2023 Senior FASCA Exchange Training Camp, welcoming 26 Senior FASCA members from the United States and Canada to undergo training in Taiwan. Through tailored curricula and group activities, the program seeks to strengthen participants' affinity to Taiwan, encouraging them to leverage their unique talents as bridges between generations and actively engage in community service within the overseas community. The primary goal of this initiative is to solidify FASCA as a cornerstone for the sustainable advancement of the overseas community in the future.
5.Creating Prestigious Scholarships for Outstanding Overseas Students: Attracting Global Talent to Study in Taiwan
As the global competition for international talent intensifies, recruiting foreign talent has become a crucial aspect of our country's talent acquisition policy. Aligned with the comprehensive strategy for attracting new talent, the Council established scholarships this year to encourage top-tier overseas students to pursue higher education in Taiwan. Under the Top-tier Overseas Student Scholarship, recipients will receive a total of NT$1.04 million over four years, with an annual award of NT$260,000. For the Outstanding Overseas Student Scholarship, the total amount over four years is NT$400,000, with an annual award of NT$100,000. Both scholarships are subject to renewal based on performance evaluations. In an effort to expand their reach and collaborate with domestic higher education institutions, we have partnered with these institutions to launch joint scholarships. The universities independently determine the scholarship categories and allocations. The Top-tier Joint Scholarship offers NT$130,000 per year, while the Outstanding Joint Scholarship provides NT$50,000 annually. This initiative aims to attract more overseas youths to Taiwan for higher education and cultivate exceptional talents for the future of Taiwan.
6.65 Overseas Cultural Exchange Performances, Showcasing Taiwan Globally
In 2023, as the global pandemic eased and borders reopened worldwide, the Council responded to the pressing demands of overseas communities by resuming cultural visits to 15 countries across six continents. After several years of pausing these visits due to the pandemic, the delegation presented a total of 65 performances, drawing an audience of over 100,000, including overseas compatriots and various members of mainstream societies.
To amplify the impact of these tours and showcase Taiwan's diverse cultural heritage, we initiated the Overseas Mandarin Learning Cultivation Program. Over 300 students from Taiwan Centers for Mandarin Learning in the United States and Europe were encouraged to attend these performances. Additionally, during the performances in Medan and Bandung, Indonesia, we organized the International Tour of Taiwanese Gourmet Cuisines event, designed to engage the local community and enhance Taiwan's cultural influence on the global stage.
7.Journey of Taiwanese Gastronomy: 9 Routes Showcasing Taiwanese Culinary Diplomacy
To support the growth of the overseas Taiwanese catering industry and introduce Taiwanese cuisine to the world, the Council continued the 2023 International Tour of Taiwanese Gourmet Cuisines program. This year, the tour expanded from four to nine routes, now spanning Western and Eastern North America, the Southern United States, Central and South America, Oceania, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Asia, and Indonesia. Covering five continents and 20 countries, this comprehensive expansion was a collaborative effort with overseas Taiwanese communities and Taiwan-affiliated businesses. Over a hundred events were hosted, such as the Czech-Taiwan Association's cultural events at Taiwan Center, the 10th Anniversary Opening Banquet of the Taiwan Orchid Exhibition at New York Queens Botanical Garden, culinary demonstrations featured on mainstream television in Ecuador, and National Day celebrations in Palau. These diverse events attracted over ten thousand enthusiastic participants from around the world, significantly enhancing awareness and appreciation of Taiwanese cuisine and culture among mainstream societies worldwide. Through the richness of Taiwanese flavors, we showcased Taiwan's unique culinary traditions on a global stage.
8.118 National Day Travel Routes: boosting Taiwan Tourism with Compatriots
To revitalize Taiwan's tourism industry after the pandemic and welcome overseas compatriots back to Taiwan for exploration and insights into Taiwan's impressive post-pandemic progress, this year's National Day celebrations feature a special initiative. We've developed a selection of 118 travel routes across Northern, Central, Southern, Eastern Taiwan, and the outlying islands. These routes are designed to provide compatriots with a chance to explore Taiwan's local attractions and witness the country's impressive recovery post-pandemic. Over 2,300 compatriots have registered, indicating a strong interest in experiencing Taiwan's resurgence after the pandemic.
9.Backing Overseas Taiwanese Businesses: Proactively Planning for Net-Zero Carbon Trends
In line with the global trend toward net-zero emissions and to achieve the national target of 2050 Net-zero transition, the council continues its efforts to educate overseas Taiwanese businesses about measures to reduce carbon footprints. In addition to gathering essential Environmental, Social, and governance (ESG) strategies from government sources and resource websites, as well as deploying experts for seminars in overseas communities, we introduced the inaugural Overseas Taiwanese Business Net-Zero Emissions Seminar as part of this year's 16 overseas business visit and study programs. Moreover, we conducted the 2023 Overseas Taiwanese Business Industrial Upgrading Survey this year to identify challenges faced by Taiwanese enterprises engaged in manufactured exports in key countries under the New Southbound Policy. Looking forward, we plan to provide ongoing support through the Overseas Taiwanese Enterprises Industrial Upgrading Services in the coming year to assist these businesses in aligning with the global sustainability goals of the 2050 Net-Zero Transition.
10.Smart Overseas Community Service Now Available: Breaking Barriers for Immediate Assistance
In alignment with the Executive Yuan's Smart Nation program for national development, the Council is gradually introducing the Smart Overseas Community Affairs Council online service, ushering in a new era of intelligent overseas community service. Starting from September 2022, we have launched the innovative i-Compatriot Card, a smart digital tool that offers cross-border, cloud-based convenience. Evolving from traditional consumer benefit cards, the i-Compatriot Card integrates service and connectivity functions, adhering to high international standards for personal data protection while meeting government information security requirements. It lays the groundwork for delivering precise services to overseas compatriots.
Additionally, our Overseas Community Affairs Smart Customer Service System officially launched on September 18 this year. It promptly addresses various needs of overseas compatriots, providing 24/7 online services. Leveraging intelligent analysis technology, it bridges the gap between domestic and overseas services, enabling a real-time solution of compatriots' inquiries and enhancing overall service satisfaction.
Minister Chia-Ching Hsu elaborate top 10 Highlights of Overseas Community Affairs 2023.