Since 2013, The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) has continued to sponsor Taiwan indigenous youths to pursue advanced studies and internship at Hawaii’s Brigham Young University (BYU) and its neighboring, Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). Through global encountering on an island that celebrates native culture, ACF believes the advanced studies program will expand horizons and inspire ideas to cultivate positive growth in the villages and communities of Taiwan. Nearly three years on since the return of its first candidate – Kwali. now Chief of Yilan’s Bulao Bulao Aboriginal Village (不老部落), he develops a unique in-tribe diploma program for the village’s high school dropouts to have a second chance at education.
Awarded in 2004 as Taiwan’s first aboriginal village farm tour, Bulao Bulao Aboriginal Village is not only home of the Taiya tribe, but a self-sustaining village that offers a unique experience into the life of the Taiya tribesmen. There, visitors witness the practice of age-old traditions, roast wild game meat, drink millet wine, sing and enjoy meals from the everyday harvests of the village farm.
The village’s in-tribe diploma program, directly inspired by Kwali’s advanced studies program at BYU, combines academics and onsite experiential learning contributing to the operation of the village’s farm tour. The program also offers the option for students to intern outside of the tribe under renowned local hospitality chains – My Humble House Hospitality Management Consulting, Mitsui Food & Beverage Enterprise Group, or Taipei Inn Group.
Students, with an average age of 18, are led by one teacher through the entire program year – from study to internship. All areas of study are connected to the Taiya village life; in chemistry lesson – students learn the fermentation of millet wine, they learn to produce fertilizer for agriculture. In math, students learn to estimate prices of village produces; handicraft skills are nurtured with the help of Shih Chien University and elder tribesmen.
The program is divided into two semesters with two out of four additional skills to choose to focus on – agriculture, handicrafts, architecture, restaurant service. In partnership with Nan Oau Senior High School diploma, the program, now officially recognized by Yilan County Government Education Department, will certify students a Nan Oau Senior High School diploma.
Kwali hopes the program will not only certify a diploma, but will mature the students to lead great examples to other village youths. A change in society begins from one individual; with just one positive force leading the tribe, the future of the entire tribe can be changed.