Pay it forward : Share your story with students in Taiwan

Tired of going from one place to another without much contact with the local population? In Taiwan we found a great initiative where the aim is to connect travelers with local students ! Do you also wish to travel with a purpose ?

Some years ago, a young man named Chung Han started to invite Couchsurfers to speak in his school in rural Taiwan. Soon after, other teachers and friends became interested in the project, so Chung Han created the “Couchsurfers in Class” project. Quickly the project grew bigger, and many teachers applied to join the program while more travelers participated.

Taiwan is one of our favorite countries in the world, thanks to the warm hospitality of the locals, permanent feeling of safety and the amazing nature. Sharing our story in schools were our best memories, along with hiking the highest summit in Taiwan, the Yushan Jade Mountain.

We participated in the project, enjoyed the experience, and decided to share with you how to join and do the same !

Couchsurfers in class : Darian vs Student
Darian was more interested in finding new toys than listening to us

What’s the concept ?

Travelers are invited in local Taiwanese schools to share their stories in English in front of mostly attentive students and teachers.

Students get the chance to practice their English and a priceless insight on other countries’ culture. It’s an invaluable experience that can serve as a huge boost of motivation in their desire to learn English or go abroad.

Travelers can break their traveling routine with an inspiring talk and the opportunity to introduce their countries, tell unique stories and showcase any particular talent they have to young audience. Did I mention it’s not on Tripadvisor or Lonely Planet ?

Photo of The Nomad Family with Taiwanese students
We got a blast with very friendly students!

How does it work ?

After applying to the program, your profile will be shared among teachers, and you’ll receive a message directly from the ones interested in your visit. You can go to one or multiple schools, around the same city or maybe in various cities along your trip, that all depends on you and there’s no pressure to do more. Since the project is related to Couchsurfing, you’ll probably find a host through the program and maybe someone willing to show you around.

It’s a voluntary project, and no-one is getting paid in this program. Don’t expect to receive compensation for your time, nor should you expect to pay for participating.

Eating stinky tofu
Us being invited to eat Stinky Tofu after a sharing.

Our experience :

Before going to Taiwan, I already knew about this project thanks to my wife. She had been one of the first participants and she shared her story in a local school. It was before we met, and this time we got the chance to participate all together with our son. I was cycling around Taiwan when I sent a message to Chung Han through Trustroots in order to be hosted.He accepted us in his home, introduced me to the project and we decided to spend the next days sharing our story in multiple schools around Taichung. It was a great experience for us and especially Darian, who became quite popular with girl students.

Pay it forward : Share your story with students in Taiwan 1
Darian, surrounded by girls. A common sight.

After that, Chung Han shared our story on his Facebook page and we received even more invitations and attention. I finished my round-Taiwan cycling trip and, after crossing the highest road in Taiwan, we stayed for a week in a remote tea-producing area in the Nantou county with a teacher’s family who invited us to participate in multiple school activities around the area. Our last stop before hiking the highest mountain in Taiwan, the Yushan Jade Mountain.

Thanks to this Facebook post, an influential Hong Kong media met us in Taipei and followed us for our day while recording videos and interviews. That’s how we ended up with a full page on Apple Daily !

How to participate ?

If you’re planning to visit Taiwan, you can send an email at [email protected] or you may send a message through Facebook on the Couchsurfers in class official page.

Are you a teacher ? Invite travelers in your school !

Chung Han is now trying to make the project worldwide, and he’ll definitely be interested in having teachers from other countries to receivetravelers in their schools.

If you wish to participate, feel free to send him a message at [email protected]

Couchsurfers in class photo
And of course, a group photo !

Let us know if you need any help throughout the process, we’ll be happy to help or hear your story!

Have you found any manner to pay it forward or travel with a purpose on your journey ? Share it with us !

Maxime

A young father following his dream of travelling the world, now joined by HiuYing, his wife, and Darian, their first son.

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