Four days a week, Benji Wang ’23 travels more than three hours round trip from his home in New Taipei City, Taiwan to Tau Yuan County for his H Term internship. Each day, he transfers from the city metro to a public bus to arrive at the Syin-Lu Social Wellfare Foundation in time to greet the smiling faces of the Kindergarten children with whom he gets to spend the next seven hours of his day. The children in Benji’s class all have mental or physical disabilities, and while the work is challenging, Benji finds it very fulfilling.
“During my first visit I felt an instant connection with the children and faculty,” remarks Benji. “I saw all these adorable children who are struggling with what seemed to me as a simple task (walking, talking, learning numbers, etc.). I knew I had the privilege and time to help them as much as possible.”
Benji works with the teachers taking care of the children, and like most Kindergarten classrooms, they follow a schedule each day. Benji’s responsibilities include playing with the children, singing songs, teaching lessons (such as learning numbers), cleaning up after meals, and putting the children down for naps. However, because of the children’s disabilities, Benji also must assist many of them with meals since they are unable to feed themselves, something he does without hesitation and with a smile on his face.
“The faculty work extremely hard alongside the children and their families throughout the weekdays, with two teachers taking care of six students,” explains Benji. “A teacher may need to feed as many as three students at once. The least that I can do is to offer my time and skills to lessen the burden.”.
Benji has much empathy for his students and their families who have made great sacrifices to give their children an education in a safe environment.
“Families with mentally or intellectually disabled children are often faced with the misunderstanding of the society and the scarcity of education, childcare, medication and employment resources,” notes Benji. “I wish to spread more awareness for children with disabilities among the rest of my family and friends.”