Substitute Service

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Substitute Service

Postby spas12 » 26 May 2010, 17:18

So I don't actually have 2 passports, just my original Taiwanese one, but I've lived outside the country since I was 5. I saw that this was a thread which had conscription as a subforum and was wondering if I could get any advice here.

I will be done with university soon and probably returning soon to Taiwan, heard about a substitute service type of army thing for people with an overseas diploma, the reason I looked this up is because my Mandarin is pretty bad, I can hold a basic speaking convo but reading and writing is ridiculously bad. So was just wondering if anyone has any experience or knowledge on what to expect from 'substitute service'?

thanks
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Re: Substitute Service

Postby kungwan2000 » 27 May 2010, 18:14

My brother in law came back after finishing university in the US and then returned to do his service. He applied for substitute service at the military office that was later approved. He subsequently underwent basic training at 成功嶺 for one month and then drew lots to be assigned to his duties.

To be eligible for substitute service, you usually have to have a medical condition, verified by a hospital, that makes you exempt from regular service. However, I've seen the rules expanded to accommodate overseas Taiwanese.

I suggest you report to your military conscript office (兵役課)at your local government office (區公所)when you re-register your household registry, and apply for substitute service before they send you your draft letter. Once that letter is sent, you will not have the opportunity to appeal. The local office and military office will provide you with the relevant info on what you need to apply for substitute service.

Usually, for English-speaking overseas Taiwanese, you will be assigned to teaching English in deprived areas. My brother in law was stationed in a small school up in the mountains in Xinzhu serving an aboriginal community. His duties were to design courses, teach, and some administrative work. At his post, there were 2 other substitute servicemen. He was required to live on the school premises during the week, but was free to go home during the weekends (if there was no school activities).

According to him, the work can be very rewarding- he was helping some of the most deprived kids in Taiwan. The work can also be very exploitative and tedious- thanks to a new lazy bureaucratic headteacher who treated them nothing more than slave labour.

Because of job requirements, you will most certainly be under pressure to learn Chinese very quickly. All administrative reports and documents are in Chinese. You will have to be able to read and write- or befriend someone to help you with that. :wink:

That said, substitute servicemen enjoy far more freedoms than regular servicemen. By its very nature, you are serving in a civil environment rather than a military environment. Thus, there are fewer restrictions on what you will be allowed to do- i.e. my brother in law drove his car to and from the mountains, as a soldier you would have difficulty having this privilege; he shared an air-conditioned room with 2 other guys instead of 20-50 other guys; he had the freedom to use his own laptop and other electronic devices; etc., etc. (you get the idea).

At the end of the day, you will have had a crash course in Chinese and in patronizing Taiwanese bureaucracy culture. You will also have made some good friends or connections, which will become useful to you as a primer to life in Taiwanese society.

I wish you all the best! :bow: :thumbsup:
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Re: Substitute Service

Postby spas12 » 28 May 2010, 19:58

Thats really helpful! Thanks!
I've already applied and I recently found out that I've been granted a place as a substitute serviceman, just not sure where I will be stationed yet, still have to report to them as I am not back in the country yet, and do the medical check-up and basic training (or so I hear).

Did your brother-in-law have to do teacher-training programs before they asked him to teach? Only reason I ask is that some people go to uni to learn how to be a teacher.. so being able to just jump straight into it (although its preferable for me) may not benefit the kids as much. Also, apart from basic training and professional conduct, is substitute service just like a job?

I should probably try to learn some more Chinese, never been good with languages, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that all the admin stuff is in Chinese.

Thanks again
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Re: Substitute Service

Postby kungwan2000 » 29 May 2010, 01:56

My brother-in-law did not attend any teacher-training program before being sent off. He was expected to cope. Taiwan uses a senior-junior apprenticeship relationship to compensate for that. This kind of Confucianist culture is found everywhere in Taiwan.

When you address your senior, you address him as 學長, and he addresses you as 學弟. However, you will refer your senior 師傅 (master) and he would refer to you as 徒弟 (disciple) to other people. Respect is paramount and your survival depends on it, especially since you will be the most junior member. There is a whole sub-culture when you are drafted for national service. This sub-culture will be alien to you and you will find it very confusing and prohibitive- my suggestion is: take whatever is thrown at you on the chin and go with the flow. Your time will come, in the meantime, HUMILITY is the word.

Don't be too worried about your Chinese, as long as you are a humble and hard worker, there will always be people willing to help you. Taiwanese are a friendly bunch. Since you will be teaching, you are most likely going to encounter some trainee teachers who can probably give you a hand (some are hot if you are lucky) :lol: .

Essentially, the military and the substitute service is more like boarding school, with a job to be done. According to the rule book, the weekends is when you have leave. More often than not, you will be deprived of them because of extra work, especially when you are most junior. Unless you are very well-connected, it is inadvisable to complain.

Finally, you will find out where you will serve after basic training. You will draw lots, in the interest of fairness, that will allocate you to a position where there is need for new teachers.
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Re: Substitute Service

Postby noamchomsky » 29 May 2010, 06:16

I'm doing the same thing. I might see you thete.
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Re: Substitute Service

Postby JoChang » 22 Apr 2011, 19:08

Hi! Can anyone give me a brief summary on how to apply for alternate service? I have a higher diploma from switzerland (School was in English), left taiwan when I was 3, schooling was done in ZA and UK. Any info would help!
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