BY LORETTA BRIGIDIA MANELE
FOR one Solomon Islands student studying in Taiwan, the country will always be his home away from home.
In June this year, Kuei Mi-Li, who comes from Taiwan and has been teaching Mandarin at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) travelled back to her country for her holiday.
During her stay, she got the chance to meet 24 Solomon Islands students studying at various universities who had just graduated.
Among them, Li met Michael Siwainao Jnr, President of the Solomon Islands Student Association in Taiwan (SISAT) which was established back in 2004, the same year Taiwan began its award of scholarships to Solomon Islands students.
She said that Siwainao who is doing his Bachelor of Diplomacy and International Relation at Tamkang University told her about his experience of studying in Taiwan.
According to Li, Siwainao chose to study in the country because of its uniqueness.
More to that, he had three reasons as to why he wanted to study in the country popular for its Taipei 101 building in Xinyi District, night markets and friendly people.
Siwainao said he picked Taiwan to pursue tertiary studies because he not only wanted to learn the most commonly spoken language in the world, Mandarin, but also wanted to experience being educated in an Asian country and lastly because Taiwan is a great friend of Solomon Islands as the two countries share and exchange similar interests in politics, economic sector and so on.
He rated learning the language as “very important” and not only if you’re studying in Taiwan because it will be a gateway for opportunities in the future.
She stated that after spending four years in Taiwan, Siwainao now refers to Taiwan as his second home and is very grateful to have taken up the scholarship to study there.
Li said he finds that the universities in Taiwan provide a very high quality learning environment for students.
Siwainao also expressed that the country is safe with high quality living standards and an education system that has provided qualified human resources.
He sees Taiwan as a country paving its way forward in in innovation, technology, science and much more.
Siwainao mentioned that although Taiwan may or may not be recognized as part of some major international organization, it has the status of being called a “state”, adding that recent innovations have proven that if Taiwan is to be included in the international organization, the country will play a major key role.
“All these innovations and improved way of living all come down to human resources. The education system in Taiwan has provided the best platform to educate students. Lastly, Taiwan is a democratic state and provides freedom around you”, he said.
It was not just about living and studying in a foreign country for Siwainao but also about experiencing something that made him feel closer to home despite the distance of being thousands of miles away.
Li stated that he spoke of his experience about being chosen to join other international students in a workshop and conference in 2017 hosted by the Indigenous organization in Taiwan.
During the four days’ workshop Siwainao got the opportunity to work with the Amis Tribe in Dulan community located in Taitung County in the east coast of Taiwan.
His first impression when he got there was similar to the feeling of returning home during his school holidays.
“The aboriginal culture and way of living is very similar to ours (Solomon Islands). The traditional methods of hunting, fishing, farming, clothing and cooking are very similar”, said Siwainao.
He told her that he remembered that in Dulan community they have the “big man” system where there is a council of chiefs that deals with community issues or other tribes.
“The decision making body system is very much alike to where I am from (West Are’ are) and that is why I can relate”, said Siwainao.
Li said he is affirmative that the various experiences that he has gained in Taiwan will definitely help him in the future and for the betterment of Solomon Islands.
“From the moment that Taiwan welcomed me to when I had lost my belongings and retrieved them to the achievements I received while in Taiwan, I am so thankful for the Government of Taiwan (MOFA) and the good citizens. I will always call Taiwan my second home from Solomon Islands”, said Siwainao.