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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Conscripts prepare for alternative service overseas

ROC Central News Agency

2013/10/16 19:30:32

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) Taiwanese servicemen set to spend their alternative military service terms abroad expressed excitement Wednesday over their role in supporting assistance programs and cooperative projects in other countries.

The 85 conscripts, who have just finished a six-week training program, will be sent to 22 countries, mostly Taiwan's diplomatic allies, for ten months around late October, according to the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF), a government-backed organization responsible for the training.

'We're very excited,' said 25-year-old Ni Chia-mau, an information engineering M.A. who is heading to Tuvalu to help set up an electronic system for medical records there.

'It's a good opportunity to put into practice what I've learned in school,' he said.

Over a 10-month period, the conscripts will join Taiwanese technical support groups and medical missions to help carry out projects in fields including agriculture, public health and information technologies, TaiwanICDF said.

Their six weeks of training included classes on foreign languages, international etiquette and the local culture of their destinations, according to the organization.

Conscript Peng Yuan-ching, 25, said he looks forward to making a contribution and hopes that he will be able to adapt easily to the culture of his host country, Nicaragua, where he will help improve rice farming.

'I have been interested in international aid programs for a long time,' said Peng, who holds a master's degree in agronomy.

At a ceremony to celebrate the completion of their training Wednesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary-General Gary Lin encouraged the conscripts to engage with residents at their destinations and learn to appreciate different cultures.

Over the past 12 years, Taiwan has sent 920 conscripts to help with its assistance programs and cooperative projects around the world as part of their alternative service, according to TaiwanICDF.

(By Elaine Hou)
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