Palauan scholarship students in Taiwan meet with President Surangel Whipps Jr. and his delegation in Taiwan last week.

Last Sunday afternoon, President Whipps and his delegation were able to meet More than 30 Palauan students currently attending universities all over Taiwan met with President Surangel Whipps Jr. and his delegation in Taiwan on Sunday, October 9. The students present ranged from university freshmen to masters and Ph.D. students.

The students, some of whom traveled for hours to meet their president and his delegation in Tianmu, Taipei, represent a wide range of fields such as International Relations and Diplomacy, International Business and trade, Journalism and Mass Communications, Medicine, Information Technology(IT), Tourism, Chemistry, AgriBusiness, and Civil Engineering.

The students met the new Palau Ambassador Mr. Dave Orrukem, and his wife. They heard from the President, his ministers, and Senator Inabo report a few things the government was intending to do such as raising the minimum wage and opening more flight opportunities from Singapore, Japan, and Australia to Palau. The meeting also allowed students to ask questions and present their concerns.

Palauan students in Taiwan had no other questions for President Whipps and his delegation aside from scholarship increase requests. “Sel 1,000 dollars el maximum that we can from PNSB is simply not enough”; “Ar bebil a nguu a $1,000 mar kuk di nguu a $750,”  said one student. They were able to explain to their leaders that although we are on full scholarships in Taiwan; full scholarship means tuition is paid and the leftover is given to them for rent and bills, which is simply not enough.

A scenario was described to show what all MOFA scholarship students experience. For instance, all scholarship students in Taiwan receive 30,000 NTD ($1,000 In US dollars) every month. After their tuition fee is deducted by their universities, the remainder that is given to the students for their expenses is around 16,000 NTD. Some are given less if their tuition costs is higher. MOFA students are only given two years to stay at dorms and have to move out of dorms to rent apartments. Their monthly rent of about 6,000 NTD (If one is lucky to find one at this cheap rate) is deducted from that 16,000 NTD. 

As such, they are left with 10,000 NTD ($314.74 in US dollars; some receive even less) for their daily transportation to and from school. With this $314.74 (10,000 NTD), they pay electricity bills, water bills, food, laundry every week, toiletries, and whatever school supplies they might need for a whole month. For most, if not all, school books are not included in the tuition, so out of that $314.74 (10,000 NTD), aside from all their expenses, they have to buy their books at the beginning of every semester. They made clear that college books are quite expensive.

To date, Palauan students in Taiwan only can receive up to $1,000 in financial help from PNSB every semester. That is the maximum they can receive.

 “Ngdi eral a book e mla okngemedii a klou er ngii,” commented a student after the meeting, when that was received at the beginning of the semester. The rest is divided to aid in bill payments for the following months, and it’s gone.

That is the struggle, and that is why the students are on scholarships, yet they never cease asking their families back home or each other for financial help every month for bills and other necessities.

The students are grateful for Taiwan and feel Taiwan has done a lot to help them get an education. They are asking their own Palau government for a little increase in financial help from the PNSB office to maintain their stay in Taiwan and get their education and return home.

Minister Victor told the story of how the Palauan delegation that went to visit the University of Guam a few months ago asked students to raise their hands to show how many would return to Palau after their education. He said, “Only 5 out of 25 planned to return”. He further said, “The return rate of students in Taiwan back to Palau is 100%” You cannot stay here, so you will all go back home.”

One Palauan Ph.D. student said in the meeting in Taiwan with President Whipps that students in Taiwan were a better investment for Palau.

“I think Palauan students in Taiwan is the best investment you guys can invest; because we will come back for sure to Palau. Putting more money to students in Guam and US, they get more than us but do they come back? 5 out of 25?”

The event was very successful, and President Whipps, Senator Inabo, and the ministers asked the student to do a report and gather all their numbers and send them to the leaders. They assured the students that they would entertain their concerns.

Other members of President Whipps delegation that were present include High Chief Ngirturong, Ambassador Orrukem and his wife, Ministers Aitaro, Tmetuchl, Victor, Mr. Alan Seid and wife, Mr. Eric Whipps and MOS staff was also present at the meeting with students. The students are optimistic that maybe this time, their request, which has been relayed year after year, might finally be considered. (Contributed)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *