August 1, 2018

Through the Participant's Eyes: An Indian in Taiwan

India-native, Rehka, has been a long-time advocate of CIP/CIF programming. In 1978, she participated in CIP programs in both Cleveland, Ohio and Rochester, New York.
From 1978 to 1990, she worked within various industries as a social worker, and then started her own consulting group in corporate social responsibility. Since then, she has handled various projects with different corporations in Pune, India.
Her main focus has been on women empowerment, and has handled many projects that uplift women, including developing skills and furthering education. As a result of her efforts, almost 5,000 women have become self-sufficient and self-reliant.
For the last five years, Rekha has shifted her focus to the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, and has been conducting awareness programs at banks, corporations, schools, and more.
She also dedicates herself to volunteer work and is on advisory boards for special schools in Pune. She also loves arts and crafts, music, gardening, reading, and more.
CIF has become her way of life and she has participated in professional exchange programs in Israel, New Zealand, Russia, and most recently, Taiwan.
Below she describes her experience on the exchange program in Taiwan, which took place in March, 2018.

“MY TAIWAN”   by Rehka, India

Opportunities may not come again, so when one presents itself, we should make the most of it. This has been my motto in life, and is what helped me with my decision to participate in the CIF Taiwan 2018 professional exchange program. The 2 week program was from March 9 to April 24. There were four participants: myself from India, Funda from Turkey, Nadine from Austria, and Aari from Finland.

I was the oldest participant (but young by heart...ha ha ha), but this did not matter to me or to the others, as the group was wonderful, cohesive, enthusiastic and open to learning. The program helped us understand the various aspects of social work and social welfare schemes in Taiwan versus in our home countries. Since the other participants and I were from various areas of social work, like CSR and women empowerment, mental health, substance abuse, and social work research, we had a very fruitful interaction amongst us.

CIF Taiwan put in a lot of effort to create a more general program for all of us, as well as a specialized program for each of us, when appropriate. This gave us a good perspective of social work projects, as well as methodologies used for implementation.

The professionals were very warm in welcoming us, and shared their professional issues with us via the help of interpreters. Though India is 61 times larger than Taiwan, it did not matter because conceptual exchange helped us to think about the implementation of various Taiwanese social work programs back home. The tribal experience in hilly areas of Taichung was unique, for example. If social or community workers are committed to their jobs, social work systems become a way of life due to community participation. While there, I also had the amazing opportunity to try my hand at weaving, cooking and sewing with the tribal community.

In community work, the local culture, festivals, customs, values and the methods really play a big role in accepting the workers. I appreciated the religious privacy and respect maintained in families. There was no public display of religious faiths or beliefs. One is free to follow any religion or no religion.

The concept of volunteering also impressed me a lot. Many retired people are helping the hospitals, agencies, institutions by giving their services and time. The volume and commitment of these volunteers is worth a lot of praise. The management of volunteers is done in very organized way, and is worth following.

The host family stay, which is CIF culture, was superb. Language is never a barrier in communication if people have will and wish to share. The use of a special translating gadget on my phone brought me closer to people. The hospitality, food, cooking, exchange of recipes, ideas, and music all touched my heart. The Sanskrit sentence “annadata sukhee bhava,” meaning “may the food giver be happy forever” is something I used to say after every meal, and it became so popular that many others started using it.

When I say “MY TAIWAN” it speaks for itself without explanation. The CIF values of love, respect, honesty, peace, unity in diversity, and commitment, filled my heart. CIF, of course, taught me many things professionally, but has also given me much more—new friends, new ideas, new food habits (I learned to eat with chopsticks), traveling abroad and experiencing a different culture, and more.

The long-lasting global friendships have expanded my vision, and have made me a global citizen. The maturity and wisdom arising out of these experiences has made me more tolerant to change, ideas, differences, other people and situations.

CIF has made me strong, youthful and flexible. It has now become my passion to live by the “CIF way.” And I hope that in doing that, to achieve the idea that “ the world is one family” for world peace, in my small way…my CIF way.


Posted by Lindsey Walsh on August 1, 2018 at 3:43 PM in Participant Permalink
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