The first 9th Grade graduation after The Alliance’s involvement…
The 9th Grade class of 2015 is the first group of middle school graduates since Master Hsing Yun of Fo Guang Shan Monastery entrusted The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) Chairman, Stanley C. Yen, with Junyi School for Innovative Learning in December 2011. With their visions aligned, Yen takes a new approach to education by introducing experiential learning, bringing in global resources, and providing equal learning opportunities to underprivileged and indigenous youths from under-resourced rural communities, bringing new value to Taiwan’s education. The graduates witnessed the school’s most critical, yet exciting period of transition.
As traditional education in Taiwan centers on exam results, students study through rote learning and memorization. Yen’s vision is to emphasize on developing children in arts, music, and environment; and aims to shape character, develop social and communication skills, as well as independent thinkers. In partnership with Yilan’s Ci Xin Waldorf School and Taipei Municipal Zhong-Zheng Senior High School, Junyi School hopes to combine the advantages of the schools to create education that will best serve the children’s learning needs, and nurture their talents.
On graduation day, graduates shared a final campus tour. The ceremony, held at the campus garden featured student performances, valedictorian speeches shared in English, as well as speeches and awards by the school principal, parent representative, and Yen. The day concluded with a performance by the school’s Indigenous Dance Class. Indigenous students from Junyi School originate from seven ethnic groups – Amis, Paiwan, Puyuma, Bunun, Rukai, Yami, and Truku. The class aims to teach indigenous culture through dance to indigenous and non-indigenous students, building multiculturalism.
Whether from primary or middle school, graduates are challenged to journey through the mountains and coasts of Taitung to understand, and respect its environment, and its rich indigenous culture. Mountaineering and indigenous culture lessons were conducted weekly to prepare students for the year-end journey. This year’s 9th Grade graduates were challenged to hike to Jiaming Lake. Alongside 12 teachers and parents, 37 students set-off for a four-day, three-night adventure.
From 2013, Junyi School incorporated Waldorf’s humanistic education into its primary school; it will continue to integrate the Waldorf spirit into the entire school. The school currently offers education to Grade 9; and will progressively offer a complete secondary education to provide children consistency throughout their primary and secondary schooling. Junyi School provides scholarships to one-third of its students; majority with indigenous origins, from villages that struggle to survive. Yen believes that education is the key to sustainably changing their futures, and encourages the students to be role models for their villages to lead a more disciplined life, to become more globalized, and to cherish and preserve their culture. Through Junyi School, Yen hopes to set an example for the possibility of successful education reform in Taiwan as well as Chinese speaking communities.
To date, ACF has sponsored three indigenous youths, to study and intern at Hawaii’s Brigham Young University and Polynesian Cultural Center. Yen hopes that in three years, with Junyi School’s first group of high school graduates, that one-third of them will carry on to explore the world. ACF will guide them to appropriate schools overseas; and raise funds for families with economic strains to give children the opportunity to be different.
"Graduation is the beginning of another learning journey, but Junyi will always be your home. Come back whenever you are homesick." – Jingyu Huang, Principal of Junyi School