Our miseries are as dawn to dusk. COVID-19, a world pandemic! Is there still hope for the world? Well, it is as they say that in every cloud, there is a silver lining.  Palau High School (PHS) has made strides in its efforts to seek innovative ways of learning given the challenges of COVID-19.

On Monday, December 14, 2020, three and half years after the initiation of Palau-Taiwan Students Exchange & Distance Learning Project, Palau High School Chinese Mandarin-Language students held their first ZOOM experience with Taiwanese students from Catholic Sheng Kung Girls’ High School. This experience is regarded as a significant success and a highlight of the project.

The Palau-Taiwan Exchange & Distance Learning Project was introduced in November of 2017 by Taiwan Embassy and Taiwan Technical Mission in Palau and PHS for the purpose of creating interests, motivations, and participations of students in Palau and in Taiwan to interact and learn each other’s culture, geography, natural resources, and most of all, developing their understanding and skills in English and Mandarin respectively through the exchange. How students interact and learn from each other is mainly through exchanging of hand-made-postcard and booklets.

Since the inception of the Exchange & Distance Learning Project, PHS Mandarin students have connected with 5 high schools in different cities in Taiwan. The first two in 2018 are Siang-Shang Junior High School in Taichung city and National Hualien Senior High School in Hualien city. In 2019, National Pei-men Senior High School in Tainan city and National Lan-Yang Girls’ Senior High School in Yilan city joined in. This year 2020, Catholic Sheng Kung Girls’ High School in Tainan city joined in the program. This is the school that PHS Mandarin students were able to connect with via ZOOM video conference call. According to PHS Mandarin teacher, Miss Tung-hsueh Chen, the exchange activities she and her students did this year are also part of the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) project. iEARN is a non-profit organization made up of over 30,000 schools and youth organizations in more than 140 countries.  

PHS Mandarin teacher Miss Tung-hsueh Chen says, “I hope to motivate students Mandarin learning engagement through practical ways of using the language.  Furthermore, I want to broaden my students’ horizons by giving them the opportunity to interact with international students of the same age, as well as building and strengthening friendship between Palau and Taiwan.” As for the participating students, they all think the activities were fun, and that they have learned a lot from the experience. Macy, one of the students, thinks that making and receiving postcards is such a fun experience. “It gave me the opportunity to not only learn, but also to teach.” Paulyn, another student, says, “The activity of writing postcards for Taiwanese students was not just fun, but also very helpful. It provides the students an opportunity to practice writing Chinese characters and practicing writing full sentences outside of the usual class works. It was really fun, and we learned so much from it.” Sumio says, “This activity helped us learn new things. It also helped us to be more open to other people and to understand more about their culture.”

Given the positive impact of this exchange and distance learning program, PHS continues to seek and to implement ways to fostering enhancement of learning not only through traditional means of learning, but also through the use of technologies. Palau High School recognizes the partnership it has with the Taiwan government, and sincerely wishes for a continued support in the years to come. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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