Upper School international student Jenevieve Tsai ‘25 is making a big difference in the lives of underserved students who live in her home country of Taiwan. She initially partnered with Linkuo Elementary School
, a rural campus in New Taipei City, to organize and launch a tutoring program that helps its students improve their English speaking skills. The program pairs Taiwanese students with high school tutors from around the world. Tsai said they have since expanded their reach beyond the one campus, and are helping other rural schools.
“From this experience, I recognized the social issue of unequal education and limited resources that students have in Taiwan,” said Tsai. “Since I have experienced a different learning environment, I have the opportunity to meet many talented people with great achievements in various fields and directions. They have similar views on education and want to help our society in becoming better through their own abilities.”
Prior to attending St. Stephen’s, Tsai was a public school student in Taiwan and had the opportunity to participate in and become the vice-president of a club that offered weekly English classes for students living in remote areas. As she began thinking about her service learning distinction project at St. Stephen’s, Tsai thought creating some kind of international tutoring program would be a good idea and something she too could accomplish. She met with Upper School Service Learning Coordinator Jodi Blount who helped flush out the idea and make it a reality.
Tsai decided to bring a network of her friends together from all over the world, that she’s met through various life experiences. Together, they have designed activities such as reading books, journal writing, cultural introductions and games to help Taiwanese students build their confidence when speaking English and provide them an opportunity to speak with English Native Speakers. After every class, individual feedback is offered based on the writing assignment and recorded audio they turned in to maximize the effectiveness of the class. When new tutors come on board, Tsai holds an orientation session via Zoom to get them up to speed and answer questions about the work they will be doing.
“We all believe students should have the right to ask for resources and any knowledge, regardless of their background,” said Tsai. “We hope to make use of our experience and knowledge to help students from elementary school to middle school, attain equal education and wider resources, and help students fully envision their future direction, goals, and development.”
In early 2023, the tutors hosted a sharing session to answer questions about the standardized tests required for non-native English speakers to enroll in English-speaking universities. They invited two college students from the University of Southern California to share their experience, advice and techniques for doing well on the tests. The event was recognized by a non-profit organization in Taiwan that offers free help to more than three thousand public school students in the process of studying abroad.
After working with Linkuo Elementary School for four months, Tsai said the campus has officially adopted and added the tutoring program into their schedule and curriculum. Tsai is now working with other volunteers to expand the program to other school districts in Taiwan.