A few weeks back I read in the Taipei Times that Taiwan’s volunteer rate has been climbing for the past few years. Last year 64, 000 people volunteered for an average of 3.2 hours per week. I was a bit surprised because I have never met a Taiwanese person who volunteers and haven’t found Taiwanese people to be very altruistic or giving especially to strangers. To be fair this may be a taboo subject or something that would never come up in ordinary conversation. The Times said:
Since the Volunteer Service Law (志願服務法) was promulgated in January 2001, the governments of all special municipalities, cities and counties around the country have been required to form social welfare volunteer service corps.This section piqued my curiosity, as it seems to indicate that the rise in volunteerism is more the result of the Volunteer Service Law and not in any change in attitudes. I also thought that 64, 000 people sure is a lot of people to be volunteering. Then I broke out the calculator and quickly realized that my earlier skepticism was accurate. According to the CIA Fact Book, Taiwan has over 16 million people between the ages of 15-64. Unless my math is wrong that would show a volunteer rate of 0.4%. Now that is a number that will make every Taiwanese person proud.
At the end of last year, ministry officials said, there were 1,169 volunteer service corps, up 17.1 percent from a year before.
To put Taiwan's numbers it in perspective my hometown of Calgary has a 37% volunteer rate with people giving about 10 per hours per month. This works out to 350 000 volunteers in a city of 950 000 people. It is also important to note that Calgary is lower than the Canadian average. I am not sure why only 64 000 people volunteer in Taiwan but believe it is probably because there isn’t much of a civic culture in Taiwan and people only really care about money. I am sure some Taiwanese people will pull the culture card. the Taiwanese culture card is usually played as an explanation given by locals when asked the reasons behind inexplicable facts about their country.
I have illegally volunteered a number of times since living in Taiwan; 921 relief and Children’s Day events. Now that I have a wife and kid I am really not that willing to illegally volunteer. I would love to volunteer more but believe that I need some kind of work visa to do so legally. If this is truly the case, I will probably respect the local culture and do like the locals and not volunteer.
Tags: [Taiwan], [Volunteer] and [Volunteer Service Law]