By: Ma. Jeasa G. Torrefranca, Chief Delegate, AMSA-DLSHSI
A group of 14 medical students from various medical universities in the Philippines were chosen as delegates to visit Hualien and Taipei, Taiwan for the Asian Medical Students’ Exchange Program (AMSEP) hosted by the Tzu Chi University (TCU). It was a week packed with various academic and socio-cultural activities that explored medical field, health care system and Taiwan’s history, art, architecture, language, people and cuisine.
The delegates for this exchange program are as follows:
Bugna, Veronica – AMSA-FEU NRMF
Cruz, Anna – MSSR-IPPNW
Depay, Nikki Mariz – ComDRS
Esquivel, Mandy – MSSR-IPPNW
Fermin, Ai – AMSA-UST
Gohel, Erika – FPHHR
Gonzalez, Joey – AMSA-UST
Leong, Jocel – AMSA-UERM
Pamin, Joanne – ACSIS
Paulino, Toby – MSSR-IPPNW
Sanchez, Marki – AMSA-UST
Santana, Kevin – AMSA-UST
Torrefranca, Ma. Jeasa – AMSA-DLSHSI
Varela, Pia – MSSR-IPPNW
Day 0 April 26, 2014 Saturday
Our pulses raced with excitement as the day we've all been waiting for has come. After all the preparations, VISA applications, brainstorming of how we can showcase well our abilities and culture, the moment has come to realize them, think less of worries and enjoy.
Delegates ready for departure at NAIA Terminal 3.
The delegates arrived at Taiwan Taoyan International Airport at 12:25 in the morning. As they were informed to be fetched by the hosts at around 4 o'clock in the morning, the delegates were astonished as seven members of the organizing committee, including its director, Ching Yuan-Hu, greeted them with banners, smiles and warm welcome the moment they exit the arrival hall. The whole group was saturated with happiness and excitement. Truly, it was an unforgettable moment.
Delegates greeted with warm and surprise welcome at Taiwan International Airport.
The delegates were transferred by a shuttle to Jing-si Hall (Still thoughts hall) where they stayed until 10 o'clock in the morning. Experiencing Taiwanese hospitality, they were welcomed with their very first meal in Taiwan - a radish cake and warm soy bean milk. The delegates slept comfortably altogether and recharged for the upcoming trip to Hualien, the eastern side of Taiwan.
Day 1 April 27, 2014 Sunday
A cool morning breeze woke up the delegates from their comfortable sleep at Still Thoughts Hall. In high spirits, they were transferred to Taipei Train Station and took the train bound for Hualien City. Cool breeze, blue skies and serene atmosphere welcomed the delegates after the 2-hour train ride.
A warm, fun-filled and mouth watering welcoming party kicked off in the evening at the Tzu Chi University (TCU). There were variety of authentic Taiwanese food, getting to know activities and fun games.
AMSEP Taiwan 2014 Welcome Party at TCU.
Delegates enjoying mouth watering Taiwanese cuisine served during the welcoming party.
Day 2 April 28, 2014 Monday
The morning sunshine wafted gently in and the warm rays were of comfort to the cold breezy weather. The second day began with our morning stroll at Tzu Chi University. We had the chance to take our breakfast and taste the healthful vegetarian foods at their School Cafeteria.
The first lecture was conducted by the Chairman of the School of Medicine, Prof. Tsung - Ying Chen. He discussed about the basic facts of the institution, its history, administration, health care system and the significant roles that TCU hospital plays in the field of surgery.
Delegates with Prof. Tsung - Ying Chen, Chairman of the School of Medicine, TCU
The second half of the morning was spent at the Medical Simulation Center (MSC) with the second speaker who is the Vice President of Tzu Chi University and Chairman of MSC, Dr. Guo-Fang Tseng. He talked about the unique program of the institution’s Anatomy Class which is the Silent Mentor Program. As opposed to the practice of Western world and of the Philippines where cadavers used in anatomy dissection are considered as learning beings and that student must be able to detach from it personally, in the Silent Mentor Program, the medical students are given the chance to meet their assigned cadaver donors before their die, learn about their medical history, respect and pray for them every dissection and attend its funeral by the end of the term. The cadavers are cremated and placed in special crystal urns that are stored in a columbarium inside the institution.
Delegates taking a tour inside the Medical Simulation Center with its Chairman Dr. Guo-Fang Tseng explaining the functions of each rooms and its various equipment.
In the afternoon, the delegates harnessed their skills as they’ve tried the endoscopy training boxes. These training boxes are used by anatomy students prior to their anatomy dissection classes. A form of examination composed of six levels are done and the delegates are persevered enough to get through level 1 with the short span of time.
“Endoscopy Level 1, passed!” The persevered delegates with their endoscopy training boxes.
The day ended with a city tour and food trip at the heart of Hualien City. The night market offered a variety of authentic Taiwanese food, drinks and products. Jam-packed indeed!
Delegates at the city streets of Hualien Night Market.
Day 3 April 29, 2014 Tuesday
The world of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was introduced by the Chairman of the School of Post-Baccalaureate Chinese Medicine, Prof. I-Hsin Lin on the third day of exchange. As part of the lecture, it was taught that Chinese medicine is comprised of herbal medicines, acupuncture and neuropathy. In recent times, people most especially in China and Taiwan learn to combine both the advantages of traditional and the western medicine. The delegates were able to do hands-on preparation of herbal ointment with the supervision of Assistant Prof. Shang-Chih Lai.
Just how the delegates are – clever, full of fun and interactive in one of the rooms of TCU before taking their huge meal.
The delegates also witnessed and tried for themselves the formal Tea Ceremony. Much more than a drink, tea ceremony is a form of art. It is understood and practiced to foster harmony in humanity, discipline in the mind, promoted harmony with nature, quiet the heart and attain the purity of enlightenment.
Indulging in serenity, the delegates with their speaker at the Tea Ceremony session
In the afternoon, we had the hospital visit at Buddhist Tzu Chi Hospital. The departments visited were the Radiology Department, Nuclear Medicine Department, Ophthalmology Department, Department for Geriatrics and the Terminally Ill and the fully equipped Objective Structured Clinical Exam (OSCE) Rooms.
Just as everyone thought that the day was over, the delegates were surprised of more cultural experience awaiting them. A line-up of authentic Taiwanese experience was composed of DIY spring roll for dinner, martial arts, calligraphy, and lantern making.
Feeling accomplished, the delegates pose with their proudly made calligraphy.
Witnessing a group of students performing martial arts before experiencing them ourselves.
Day 4 April 30, 2014 Wednesday
Upon receiving the pre-exchange booklet, one of the first things that excite the delegates most was the river rafting. Equipped with our rash guards, board shorts, aqua shoes, life jackets and soft helmets, we underwent a pre-rafting orientation and basics of rafting. Onboard our rubber boats and paddles on hand; we sailed and rafted thru the calm and crossed the troubled waters of Xiuguluan River. It was a total of three hours rafting and that was an unforgettable experience for everyone.
The first boat on sail with the numerous boats following composed of the delegates, hosts and adventurous tourists.
The day ended with more food trips at the night market. Various food choices were served such as fried spicy squid, milk tea, stinky tofu, oyster omelet, famous coffin bread and sausages.
Day 5 May 1, 2014 Thursday
It was a perfect sunny day and the delegates are headed for the Taroko National Park. On our way to the park, we were welcomed by low hills ringing the valley, rolling away into a blue haze of clear sky and green mountain peaks. Taroko National Park amazed us with its spectacular marble gorge sceneries, rushing streams, canyons of thousand feet deep and beautiful landscapes. The breath-taking scenery captivated everyone.
Picture perfect views, here the delegates and their hosts enjoy the great scenery at Taroko National Park.
After the great experience at the park, the delegates were headed to the QiXing Lake which was actually a sea. Instead of having sand to enjoy with on the shore, this unique place is coated with stones and pebbles instead. The sun shone brilliantly and the water in the ocean glittered invitingly.
The delegates relaxing and taking photos along the shoreline of QiXing Lake.
Like all the travels and adventures, this program also had its end. AMSEP Taiwan 2014 had its farewell party at Chateau de Chine Hotel where various delicious Taiwanese meals have been served. A fine dining restaurant satisfied all our tummies. The delegates presented a cultural number to express their gratefulness to the hosts and to share something about their country. They presented a tourism video showcasing clips and photos with the themes “More Fun in the Philippines” and “More Fun in Med School”. These were followed by variety of games using Filipino Food and commenced with a song number finale composed of the songs Harana, Torete and Kaleidoscope World.
Ladies’ group picture! Elegantly dressed delegates and hosts come together to celebrate friendship before parting came.
All suited up for tonight’s event, the guys now do their swag pose as they take their turn.
The delegates still on a high of Pinoy Pride after their successful and fun cultural presentation.
Day 6 May 2, 2014 Friday
After saying goodbye to friends left in Hualien, the delegates along with some of the hosts travelled back to Taipei by train. The delegates were accommodated at Taipei Hero House.
There was a buzz of excitement in the air as the delegates visited Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Park where the delegates witnessed the traditional and must-see “changing of guards” and magnificent buildings.
Delegates inside Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall after witnessing the ceremonial changing of guards.
Delegates at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Park enjoying the view of historical architectures.
The afternoon was spent with shopping of souvenirs, clothes, and delicious Taiwanese foods. Tamsui has a variety of objects being sold. It definitely a place where one can taste mouth-watering Chinese cuisines. The delegates experienced a ferry ride to Bali-Left Bank where more shopping shops are seen. It was a glorious sight at sun-down and the delegates enjoyed shopping and resting alternately. As the sun set, the few thin strips of clouds on the horizon turned shimmering gold.
After sun down, shopping was continued until Ximending! From tattoo street to accessory shops, cosplay to street dancing. It is indeed a fashion haven and a lace to know more about the local subculture of Taiwan and its youth.
After bags from previous shops where unloaded, delegates were still game for more shopping!
Though a bit exhausted, the delegates and hosts were up for another exciting event in Taipei – the Lounge Party! The group enjoyed the time to bond with each other to share more experiences and express gratefulness to one another as the time for departure from Taiwan is nearing.
Who doesn’t love parties? Delegates and hosts celebrating friendship at one of the lounge bars in Taipei.
Day 7 May 3, 2014 Saturday
The delegates were game for more shopping experience at Jioufen, a place almost a 2-hour travel from the heart of Taipei. It is famous for its various food and souvenir shops as well as its breath taking view of the city. Historically, this place became an inspiration in the creation of the story entitled “Spirited Away”. It is a mountain area rich in its history. The unending bright sky was glorious luminous blue.
Busy streets of Jioufen flooded with tourists and shoppers.
The afternoon was a free time where the delegates spent visiting the famous places in Taipei for shopping and sightseeing – Taipei 101 in Xinyi District, Shillin Night Market and Ximending.
Delegates at the famous world building, Taipei 101.
Night fell. The setting sun cast an orange glow over the evening sky. On the rush, the delegates took the metro-train and a shuttle bus to the airport. The delegates and their hosts had their final farewells. The delegates took their flight home with heavy luggage filled with shopping goods, souvenirs, and food. Most of all, they carry with them all experiences, thoughts of new friends and wonderful memories that will never be replaced with anything else.
Last group photo taken before departure at Taiwan International Airport.
AMSEP Taiwan 2014 hosted by Tzu Chi University in Hualien and Taipei is indeed an intensely interesting and an unforgettable experience!
For complete photo documentation, visit the following links: