Tutoring program giving new immigrant students a chance

Taipei-A program launched by Chinese Christian Relief Association (CCRA) to tutor underprivileged children has helped many students advance their education, including helping an Indonesian immigrant's child get into college, the CCRA said Monday.

Since the program was launched in 2004, it has provided assistance to more than 30,000 children, including Hsiao-yu, a girl living in Chiayi County who was born to an Indonesian mother and was recently admitted to National Tsing Hua University's Department of Music, the organization said.

Hsiao-yu and her brother and sister have been raised by their mother single-handedly because her father has been sick in the hospital for a long time, leaving the family financially strapped.

Although Hsiao-yu showed an early gift for music, she was unable to learn to play piano or even study vocals because her family could not afford the lessons, according to the CCRA.

When she was a third grader, however, Hsiao-yu was referred to the association to receive support from the program providing after-school tutoring for disadvantaged children.

Under the program, music teacher Chung Li-chu was sent to Chiayi once a week to teach children to play piano free of charge, and Hsiao-yu was one of the students.

In 2014, when Chung was no longer able to get to Chiayi regularly, the CCRA arranged for Hsiao-yu to visit Taipei every month. Two teachers specializing in vocals and instruments were assigned to teach her, and helped her get into National Tsing Hua University.

According to Hsiao-yu, she has always admired people who can play piano, and the music lessons offered by the CCRA made her dream come true.

She said that because of her interest in music, she doesn't feel tired even after practicing for six hours in a row almost every day over the past 10 years.

"If the teacher points out mistakes I've made, I do my best to correct them to her satisfaction. I cherish any opportunity I have to play piano regardless of whether I'm happy or sad," she said.

According to Ministry of Education statistics for 2016, one of every nine of Taiwan's 210,000 elementary and junior high school students were second-generation immigrants and most of them faced educational and financial disadvantages, according to the CCRA.

The after-school tutoring program plans to provide subsidies to 2,500 children between September 2017 and August 2018 to help them develop their gifts and chase their dreams, the association said.

The CCRA has established 1,919 service centers in 256 villages and townships in partnership with 868 churches and forged them into a community care network that can effectively deliver assistance to people in need at the community level, according to the group.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council