To celebrate AU’s 20th anniversary, Dr. Jeffrey J. P. Tsai, President of Asia University, called together faculty members and students in a collective effort to publish a book entitled Innovation and Sustainability: Asia University SDG’s Stories in Wufeng, which includes 21 stories based upon the social service ideal of global connection and local care.
President Tsai shared his own experiences in building houses for the homeless and underprivileged people while studying as a graduate student in the USA. He returned to Taiwan twenty years ago and led Asia University faculty members and students to help rebuild Ren-ai township and Sinyi township in Nantou County, which were seriously hit by the disastrous 921 Earthquake in 1999. That experience, he stated, triggered the idea of the university’s social responsibility and further motivated Asia University to become a “volunteer university,” which took “volunteer enterprises” and “sustainable volunteerism” as parts of its educational goals.
Under the outstanding leadership of President Tsai, AU strived to bring knowledge and skills into its neighborhood communities. For twenty years, AU’s social service in the areas of science education, health care, industrial upgrading, and international connection have generated many inspirational and heartwarming stories.
For example, nine AU students accompanied the famous “Senior Motorcyclists” to travel around the island in 2007. Professor Meilin Lee, chair of the Department of Social Work, said that AU students helped take care of the 17 senior riders, age 81 in average, who dreamed to go on their 1150 kilometer trip around the island under the sponsorship of Hondao Senior Citizen’s Welfare Foundation. The trip was filmed and broadcast nationwide, and AU students’ volunteering spirit and efforts were highly lauded by the society in general and by those senior riders in particular.
With the rapid popularity of 3C products, some juveniles and young adults have become addicted to the fascinations of the internet. To cope with this problem, professor Huei-Chen Ko, Vice President of Asia University, established a “Center for Prevention and Treatment of Internet Addiction” and offered “Addiction Prevention Courses” to help those in need to reduce their internet-related complexes. She also organized an “Addiction Prevention Camp” by using AI technology to give instant diagnosis of those affected. The result was remarkably effective: nine out of ten participants said that their degrees of addiction were significantly reduced.
Dr. Charles C.N. Wang from the Department of Bioinformatics and Medical Engineering recounted an interesting case of culturing fish with AI technology. He was able to successfully convince his hometown people in Tainan that with the application of AI technology, they could increase the yield of catch by 10% and at the same time reduce the feed by 20%. He was proud to prove to his grandfather that he is a “useful” person in society.
Professor Hua-Shan Wu, chair of the Department of Nursing, and her students have been staying in the Wufeng community for the past three years, helping the seniors with mild cognitive impairment through therapeutic tabletop games. They also invented an award winning “Mobile Game” which made the therapy easier to administer and allowed for individual needs during the pandemic. Dr. Yu-Fang Shen from the Department of Bioinformatics and Medical Engineering used 3D printing skills to produce specially designed tools to hold the pencil to help children with cerebral palsy to write.
In the section on “Local Care” in the book, we can read such stories: Professor Shu-chuan Liao from the Department of Social Work launched academic research on Wufeng studies; Associate Professor Jia-An Lin worked in Tai-shi area; Associate Professor Shu-Chen Huang worked on behalf of the earthquake victims in Nantou country; Associate Professor Ching-hui Wang worked in the aboriginal village in Tbulan, Taichung county.
The section on “Science Education” features stories by professor Shian-Shyong Tseng, Vice President, who worked on new media innovation and long-term care; Associate professor Anthony Y. H. Liao, who attempted to bridge the AI gap for underprivileged children in remote areas; Assistant Professor Wen-Ling Chan, who brought scientific knowledge to primary school students in the countryside.
More stories are provided in the section on “Industrial Upgrading.” Assistant Professor Yu-Fang Shen, Chair Professor Zon-Yin Shae, Associate Professor Min-Min Lee, and Assistant Professor Yang-Chia Shih all recounted their individual stories in the areas of 3D printing, culturing of fish, AI certification, lohas industry and mushroom farming.
In the “International Connection” section, Dean Chun-Wei Lin of College of Business Management told of sending students to work for the orphans in Africa and assistant professor Chih-Bang Msiao conducted a social service camp in Cambodia. Their stories are touching and inspiring to read.
Dr. Chang-Hai Tsai, founder of the university, observes that these 21 stories of altruism bring positive changes to our social reformation. To serve with love, as he believes, is like a beautiful flower that will bloom in the heart of each AU student. Educating its students to uphold UN’s universal value of SDG’s, AU will be proud to claim itself as a university which serves the world.