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An all-volunteer mission comprising students from National Chi Nan University has returned from Indonesia after partaking in a Bali initiative that provides computer training and vocational skills to disadvantaged female youths.

The “Bali WISE” initiative offers a six-month program four times a year — with starting dates in January, April, July, and October — for Indonesian women of disadvantaged backgrounds to receive training in work-applicable career skills such as English and computer proficiency.

As the brainchild of Bali-based nonprofit R.O.L.E. Foundation, Bali WISE pairs students with a three-month corporate internship opportunities after 90 days of classroom courses from the foundation. The program has over 800 graduates today.

The student mission was formed under the banner “Empowering” by Liu Yen-tze (劉晏孜), an NCNU student who volunteered at the R.O.L.E. Foundation at the start of 2018. She noticed that the worn equipment was hindering the efficiency of Bali WISE courses, and came up with an idea.

Working with the ASUS Foundation, Liu was able to secure a delivery of 12 recycled laptops through the “Second Life for Computers” program, which salvages old computer equipment from schools, companies, and individual donations. The laptops were reformatted and wiped clean of old data before their transport to Bali.

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After three months of volunteer training and team-building exercises, the Empowering crew set off on Aug. 7 for a two-week Bali mission to train new computer instructors and donate the proceedings from six fundraisers held on NCNU campus. They were accompanied by Chao Chung-chi (趙中麒), an assistant professor at NCNU’s Department of Southeast Asian Studies, and a volunteer group from ASUS.

The prepared courses included seven computer instruction courses, two cultural workshops, and one language lesson on basic Mandarin Chinese. The student volunteers specifically curated courses on Microsoft Word (formatting, advanced functions, flyer design), PowerPoint (presentation, layout, delivery), Excel (shortcuts, formulas, graphs), and Google cloud services (search, email, translate).

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The two workshops were used to explore marionette storytelling and a primer on Taiwan’s folk religions, traditional customs, and temple culture, while an introductory course on Mandarin Chinese was thought to be advantageous for helping students secure better employment.

“I like to work in front of computer,” noted Bali WISE program graduate Dayu, who said she was grateful for the computer lessons and how they provided a platform for people from Taiwan and Indonesia to come together.

Fellow alumna Fathia, whose family could not afford to send her to university, hopes to find a better paying job with the new skills and complete her academic studies. “This is a very good opportunity for me,” she said. “A great chance.”

For Empowering team leader Liu, the most rewarding aspects of the mission were the deep bonds formed with Bali WISE students and the validation that the team received from all participating organizations.

Despite all the challenges and the complicated logistics, Liu said she’ll be willing to organize another trip if the opportunity ever arises again.

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