NDP, please shed light on my concerns – Student in Taiwan
Editor: In 2017, I applied for an International Cooperation and Development Fund Scholarship to study Journalism and Mass Communication, in Taiwan. My program is taught in English so I did not have to take the mandatory year of Mandarin.
I, along with every other student who received this opportunity was giddy and enthused about the journey and the adventure that lay ahead of us. Right now, I should be planning for my graduation and relieved about completing four years of hard work, instead, now I am worried about my future and whether or not I would be able to complete my degree in the coming months.
Here is a little back story. In 2016, the New Democratic Party, then under the leadership of Arnhim Eustace announced that if elected, they would sever ties with Taiwan and pursue diplomatic relations with China.
With the General Elections being less than a month away, I am left with the lingering feeling of uncertainty about my future as I have not been given any firm/solid indication of what will happen to me if the NDP is elected to government.
Now, one might argue that when countries sever ties with Taiwan their students just go to China or are offered the option to complete their studies in Taiwan at their own expense, or with a monthly stipend from their country.
However, when this is done, nine times out of the ten, the decision to switch to Taiwan comes as a shock to students.
The NDP, however, had a unique opportunity. Since they made their intentions known three years prior, they had three years to work out a feasible plan for the students in Taiwan and a plan for what they wish to gain from a relationship with China. And, yet less than a month away from the general elections, there is no mention of China and no member of the party can give a straight-forward answer about what they intend to have happen with a future relationship. There was ample time to come up with a strategy for students and for the country. Is China willing to take the over 100 students who are currently studying in Taiwan?
From all accounts, a student never picks up where they left off when moving to China. In almost all cases the student has to restart their entire program and do a mandatory year of Chinese. It is extremely unfair to students like myself who have given years to a school and are so close to completing their studies, a semester away to exact, to be forced to restart their entire program. As a journalism student, I cannot wrap my head around learning journalism in a country that has no freedom of the press.
Let us say the only option is to go to China or stay in Taiwan and self-finance. How am I to meet with a lending institution in St Vincent and the Grenadines during these Covid-19 times? Am I to sleep at the bus stop or in the train station when I am kicked out of the dormitory and when my stipend is cut? How can I complete my studies when my university fees are not paid?
This is too much for anyone, let alone a student who has a million other things to focus on.
Let’s be honest, if you follow me on social media, you know I will not make it in China. I believe in the freedom to express one’s opinion and having basic human rights. These rights I know will be infringed upon in the PRC.
So if anyone in the Opposition can shed light or provide any clear and solid response to my concerns it would be greatly appreciated, as I, just as many other students, have no means of supporting myself here.