Volunteer Teaching in Taipei


#1

Hi!
I will be in Taipei this September. Does anyone know of reputable non-profit organizations that will take volunteer English teachers? I am willing to work for free! (as long as I get a good reference letter for grad school) I have no experience in Mandarin, however, I have taught ESL to Asian immigrants in the U.S. I’ll try to contact the local YMCA in Taipei and see what they say. However, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I have always worked for non-profits in the U.S., and would like to continue while I’m in Taipei.
Thanks,
Linda


#2

If you do volunteer work as a foreigner in Taiwan, you risk arrest and deportation. You need a work permit, whether or not the work is paid.

Similar to the U.S. in this respect, or so I believe – my Taiwanese colleague was forbidden under the terms of his U.S. visa from doing volunteer work when he was there.


#3

Thanks for the input. I do plan to get a work visa while i’m in Taipei. I’ll be there for the experience and not really for the money. That’s why I’m willing to give my services for free. I just need a list of organizations that I can feel good working for. If anyone can give specific names of organizations that would be great.


#4

Newbie, you misunderstand. No visa will allow you to do volunteer work legally, as it contradicts the terms and conditions of your visa. I believe the only ones that can get around this are missionaries, as volunteer work doesn’t exist outside their purpose of stay. For the rest of us it does, so we are not legally allowed to do volunteer work, moonlight at part-time jobs, play in performing bands, or participate in any political activities. Ridiculous, but true.


#5
quote:
Originally posted by newbie: Hi! I will be in Taipei this September. Does anyone know of reputable non-profit organizations that will take volunteer English teachers? I am willing to work for free! (as long as I get a good reference letter for grad school) I have no experience in Mandarin, however, I have taught ESL to Asian immigrants in the U.S. I'll try to contact the local YMCA in Taipei and see what they say. However, any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I have always worked for non-profits in the U.S., and would like to continue while I'm in Taipei. Thanks, Linda [img]images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

Newbie,

Without wanting to sound too sarcastic… Taipei isn’t exactally a third world country in desperate need of development aid. Thrity years ago your services as a volunteer English Teacher would have been highly saught after, nowadays people are more than happy to pay for a good English teacher, in much the same way as they pay for computer classes, Kung-fu lessons and math tutoring. You won’t find Peace Corps or VSO volunteers here. The YMCA pays their teachers about US$18/hour - hardly volunteer.

If you want to get a reference for grad school attestifying to any kind of substantial teaching experience, I think you will need to hook up with a reputable language school, that will train you to be an effective teacher of Taiwanese students, and pay you for it.

If you simply want to “teach” English, and get to know more Taiwanese people in doing so, without the pressure of being a paid employee, you could find some language exchange partners, or get invloved with an English club - many Universites have them. In both of these situations you’ll have ample opportunity to work on your Mandarin, too, if that interests you.

If you want to get invloved in community projects, I’m sure that you will find some opportunities after you arrive. Some of these may even invlove teaching - the bottom line is; the whole notion of NPO’s and the work they do isn’t particularly “developed” here. In my 12 years as a teacher, I met perhaps 2-3 students who were majoring in social-work, just to give you an example of what I mean.

Your heart is in the right place, and I understand your desire to continue to build on your NPO resume while you are in Taiwan, I’m just not so sure teaching English is going to be the best way to do this.

Good Luck


#6

Here’s a link to the National Palace Museum, which takes on foreign volunteers, although it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you’re looking for.
There’s no mention of work permit issuance, although they do say they won’t provide any kind of visa help.

I spoke to the contact woman listed on the web page and she had absolutely no idea that the job is illegal, so I suppose that means the museum has good guanxi (a good relationship) with the cops and you probably wouldn’t be hassled. The same could not be guaranteed with other, perhaps less “august” organizations.

One of my Taiwanese colleagues, a devout Buddhist, volunteers regularly at the Tzu Chi Foundation in Hualien (Taiwan’s biggest charity group) and he inquired on my behalf, to be told that they wouldn’t hire a foreigner IN TAIWAN as a volunteer because of the work permit issue.

Of course, this being Taiwan, you might get a different answer altogether, but you should be aware that it IS illegal.

However, as Tzu Chi is a global organization, perhaps you could contact your nearest office, join as a volunteer in the U.S. and maybe that would allow you to do volunteer work here.

But I’m grasping at straws here.


#7
quote:
Originally posted by Maoman: [b]No[/b] visa will allow you to do volunteer work legally...

That can’t be right. I worked as a full-time volunteer for the Youth Hostels Association for a year with permission from the Ministry of the Interior (Neizhengbu.) My girlfriend thought I was a sucker working for them for nothing but bed and biandang, and maybe she was right, but the point is I was a government-approved legal volunteer with an ARC.

I have continued to do volunteer work for the YHA from time to time, including taking geetings messages for Ma Yingjiu and Chen Shuibian to a Youth Hostelling conference in Tokyo. It’s funny to think that my services to El Presidente were in theory illegal.


#8

I guess I wasn’t entirely clear – I was assuming that the original poster would be wanting to earn some money and do volunteer work on the side.

However, I suppose there’s nothing stopping someone doing volunteer work as long as they don’t violate any work permit terms.

Juba, what kind of visa did you have, and did you have any legal paid work during your volunteer period? What kind of permission did you get from the ministry?


#9

Thanks for all of your suggestions and opinions on volunteer work in Taipei. I just came back from Taipei and did extensive research on volunteer prospects there. I am in a fortunate situation where I don’t have to work and will be able to volunteer my time. I’ve inquired with several relocation management consultants and they have inquired with government officials on my situation. I will be granted an ARC and will be able to pursue volunteer positions in Taipei. So far, they have given me several volunteer positions that involves teaching english. From what these consultants tell me, I won’t be violating my visa. However, like someone said, this is Taiwan…it all may change. Again, thanks for all of your help.


#10

Hew Newbie:

Can you give me some info on the organizations that you found out… I have been interested in volunteering my time while I am in Taiwan, but have not had any luck finding any suitable organizations.

Thanks.

You can also email me at Jssun71@yahoo.com.


#11
quote:
Originally posted by sandman: Juba, what kind of visa did you have, and did you have any legal paid work during your volunteer period? What kind of permission did you get from the ministry?

This was all quite a long time ago. The Chinese Taipei Youth Hostels Association (CTYHA) applied to the Ministry of the Interior, who issued a permit for me to do voluntary work for a year under the category of civic organisations (minjian tuanti.) This permit then had to be passed on to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get a residence permit. However, when the YHA applied a second time for me to do a further year, the application was turned down. I don’t think that would happen now, because the honorary president of the CTYHA is none other than Chen Shuibian. As to legal paid work - no, I couldn’t do any. My permission was to work as a volunteer for the YHA and that was it. As with all ordinary work permits, you are restricted to doing only one kind of work, be it paid or voluntary.


#12

I know you have stated you want to be in Taiwan, but your free services may be more appreciated in China, and even if you were to work there the pay is so low it is almost volunteer anyway.


#13

I imagine most of the foreign English teachers in Taiwan are working in the larger towns and cities. It may be that the more far-flung places, like the mountain villages where many of the aborigines live, are educationally disadvantaged and would appreciate Newbie’s voluntary services.