June 25-July 1, 2012
PCT to send youth volunteer team to Japan in July to help rebuilding efforts
Reported by Sam Lee
Written by Lydia Ma
PCT Church and Society Committee recently released a list of volunteers selected to go to Japan in the upcoming Japan Post-disaster Rebuilding Volunteer Team. The committee said that it received many applications for this program scheduled to take place from July 11 to September 6. Volunteers will be sent in groups to regions most devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, such as Sendai and Ishinomaki. They will be divided into 4 groups, each consisting of 16 to 20 people and they will work on a rotation basis. Each rotation will last 16 days, including training, time on the ground, and travel time.
According to the PCT, each applicant was asked to submit an application along with a biography and a recommendation letter from a pastor. The applications were evaluated by a panel of staff from Church and Society, Youth Ministry, and Campus Ministry committees. Eighty volunteers were selected by this panel though as many as 542 youths applied to participate.
Mainstream media in Taiwan recently reported that an increasing number of youths in Taiwan are applying to become volunteers, but these reports also discovered that youths seek to become volunteers mainly for the sake of boosting their profiles on entrance applications for various colleges or medical schools. Some reports also indicated that parents have been known to “lobby” organizations into accepting their son or daughter to help their children get into a better school.
When asked about his views on the rise of youths wanting to become volunteers, PCT Youth Ministry Committee Secretary Etan Pavavalung remarked that volunteering is a means for youths to live out their faith and, therefore, an important part of PCT youth ministries. Though the general public is now suspicious of the true motives behind youths applying to become volunteers, he believes that those who participate in volunteer programs and attend the required training that comes with the programs will learn and mature a great deal. He said that it’s natural for youths to encounter many challenges as they grow into adulthood and becoming a volunteer will give them opportunities to meet various kinds of people and learn from such interactions.
Etan Pavavalung added that PCT’s Youth Ministry Committee and Taiwan Christian Service have co-hosted training courses for youths seeking to become volunteers since 2010. These courses range from basic to advanced level and their purpose is to help youths understand volunteering from a religious perspective, teach them about the importance of volunteer ethics, good interpersonal relationships and teamwork, and networking so that they can work well with supporting churches. The ultimate goal is to get churches and their communities involved in this program so that churches can become more integrated with their surrounding communities.