“Virtual Volunteers”

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In 2020, a virus struck the world hard, and the world was at a standstill. With the impact of lockdown and international travel restrictions, our plan to promote GATN had no choice but to stop adjusting to the significant change.

For Taichung YMCA, this is a big change; with all the volunteerism project had to stop, we need to rethink our strategy and adapt to the new covid era. In the past few years, we’ve contributed to promoting the GATN concept to more people. So, we start to discuss, “What can we do now and what’s GATN means in times like this?”

We decided to do our GATN in a “virtual” way with all the consideration and preparation. When people worldwide use a platform like a zoom and apps to communicate, we can use technology to travel alternatively; therefore, “virtual volunteer” was born.

When Covid struck the world, all outdoor activities were barred, people were locked up at home like a bird in a cage. Many researches have shown that due to the pandemic and lockdown, mental health has been troubled.

With the “Virtual Volunteer” program, we focus on mental and spiritual support as our service because this is equally important for a community. With over 12 working partners worldwide, we gather youth from all the places in our country and serve each other, not actual work like construction or teaching class, but healing hearts with warmth and care and sincere concern.

We are doing this “virtual volunteer” program unlike any other; we don’t want to see young people sitting in front of the computer and watch PPT and introduction Videos like they are in school. Instead, we use our activities experiences and designing skills to create a different event for both sides. We invite young leaders and make them discuss what kinds of culture or life story they want to share, and let more people on the other side of the monitor feel engaged and more interested in your country, after a total of 40hours of time. More than 200 participants, in the end, we are amazed about our young people’s creativity and idea. They have turned the concept of “virtual meeting” into a “virtual party”. Whether the participants have ever visited the country before, after the activity, they are so close to the locals and have the desire to know more and want to travel the country after the pandemic. Therefore, we think this can also be considered as “an alternative way of tourism”.

We have got so many positive feedback from the participants and fun during the event. In the Philippines, we were exchanging our secret recipes. We used a GoPro camera to stimulate the first-person view to make your bubble tea in Mongolia. In Sri Lanka, we get to build our zoo through various games. In Malaysia, we had a wonderful live food show and a virtual campfire with singers and musicians. These amazing not just let more people know about YMCA’s young people and more about the country, most of all we get together and pray and give blessing to each other in difficult time like this. Volunteers do not have to do real things to help; mental help is also a good thing to serve.


By Howard Lee

“Hard to explain the feeling after the activity, with all the excitement and rewarding experience I got. I felt very grateful; when times were so difficult like this when all our life and activities had to stop, we still could know each other through this way and learn each other’s culture; I felt so connected. Such a memorable experience, it’s not hard to thank all the people behind this, and I’m grateful to know such a group of wonderful people.”

~ Taiwanese participant from Malaysia batch –

“Chang, Rou Rou”


“Sky lantern means” Happiness” in our culture, but what surprised me the most was that Myanmar also has it! The sky lantern is like a shelter of spirit for us; we used the paper in our hand a folded it into a red sky lantern. In my culture, red means health safety, I wrote “平安 Ping An” on it, and I pray to our Myanmar friends and the world. With this challenging time for all of us, I wish all people shall remain healthy and safe, and I wish for one day, there will be no war, hunger and poverty, and this planet earth can be one family.”


Taiwanese participant from Myanmar batch –