A Vincentian has become the first person to be selected by the Government of Taiwan from outside of a narrow band of six countries to teach English in Taiwan.
“For the very first time in history, a Vincentian has passed the selection process and [has been] accepted by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to teach English in Taiwan for one year under the Foreign English Teacher Programme (FET),” Taiwan Ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Baushuan Ger announced at an event on Tuesday were 16 more Vincentians were presented with scholarship to pursue university degrees in the Asian nation.
The Vincentian is La Toya Williams who has been in teaching since 2001 but works at the Curriculum Unit in the Ministry of Education.
She has taught English language and literature at the primary and secondary school level (Lowman Leeward Anglican School and St. Joseph’s Convent Kingstown), in addition to teaching information technology and electronic document preparation at the Girls’ High School.
The Government of Taiwan started the FET programme in the early 1990s.
Every year it recruits over 300 certified foreign English teachers to teach in Taiwan’s primary and secondary schools, mainly in the rural communities.
All the teachers selected over the years are exclusively from six English-speaking countries, namely the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
In order to further strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges between SVG and Taiwan, at the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of SVG, the FET programme was launched in SVG in 2016.
“La Toya’s inclusion in this programme, therefore, is historic. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines approached my embassy one day with the initiative to send teachers to teach English in Taiwan. I am very happy that in Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Labour have all given very positive responses to my embassy’s recommendation,” Ambassador Ger said that the event at the Villa Campus of the Community College.
He said Williams will be teaching at Dahu Junior High School at Miaoli County, a place famous for tourism and all kinds of fruits, especially strawberries.
“La Taya is surely a pathfinder. I wish her every success in her new stint. Once again, congratulations to all the recipients of the year and La Toya. Wish you all a very enjoyable and fruitful stay in Taiwan,” Ger said.
Speaking at the event, Williams said she was “truly humbled” to be the person from the Caribbean to be awarded the opportunity to participate in FET.
“There’s always a bit of anxiety, sometimes pressure, associated with being the first, but today I stand armed and ready for the course ahead,” she said, adding that she looks forward “to providing the best representation of my country, but I realise that my task extends into representing the other Caribbean countries with which the Republic of China on Taiwan has diplomatic ties”.
Williams said that other than her love for God, “my passion for teaching is the one thing I’ve always been sure about, so sure that almost every decision in my professional life has reflected this profound love.”
Williams said she intends “to do my God, myself, my family, my country, my church, my friends, the Dahu Junior High School and the Taiwanese Government proud.
“In all of this, I anticipate acquiring valuable knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enhance my professional development as an educator. I also wish to be exposed to new and effective teaching and learning practices that I will be able to share with key education stakeholders upon my return home. When I consider the needs of our teachers and students, it is my hope to adopt some of Taiwan’s best practices that may very well address some of the problems being faced in our education system. And finally, to experience Taiwan’s rich culture first hand will definitely be the icing on the cake!” she said.
“For those desirous of venturing out into the unknown, do so wisely, sometimes the risk is worth it. I’ll let you know in a year’s time if this one was! Remember, ‘We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make’,” Williams said.