CIC Students Explore Taiwan through Two American Councils Programs

A total of 14 students from 13 CIC member institutions explored Taiwan’s society, language, and culture through two immersive study-abroad programs administered by the American Councils for International Education this summer. Representing over one-quarter of the 54 total participants in American Councils’ Taiwan programs this summer, students from CIC member institutions continue to fare extremely well both in the programs’ selection process and in their academic performance while abroad. CIC has partnered with American Councils for years to provide member colleges and universities with a range of discounted services designed to advance internationalization on their campuses.

Students from Austin (TX), Bennington (VT), Kenyon (OH), Knox (IL), McDaniel (MD), Millsaps (MS), and Morehouse (GA) colleges and Trinity (TX) and Willamette (OR) universities engaged in the eight-week Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program (TISLP) held at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. Now in its third year, the program helped participants advance an average of one full academic year in their Chinese-language studies through 20 hours of weekly small group and one-on-one language instruction, cultural workshops, excursions, regular interactions with local student language partners, and a weekend homestay.

Morehouse College junior Timothy Jones reported, “My goals were to learn more about Taiwanese society and improve my Chinese ability, and this program exceeded my expectations.”

This year, the program included a visit to the island Xiaoliuqiu, where students had the opportunity to interact with elementary school students as well as to explore the challenges communities face in balancing the often competing priorities of economic development, tourism, and environmental protection.

Students from Hope (MI), Lewis & Clark (OR), and Roanoke (VA) colleges and Illinois Wesleyan University joined the inaugural cohort of the four-week Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan (TMT) Program, held at National Chengchi University in Taipei. The program combined academic coursework on Taiwanese history, politics, culture, and societal issues. Courses were taught in English, and Chinese-language instruction, cultural workshops, and frequent excursions provided participants with direct, meaningful interaction with the culture and themes discussed in the classroom.

Seated and standing participants pose for group photo
During one of the Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan Program’s many field trips, participants visited the Democratic Progressive Party Headquarters.

Each day, the program provided students with experiences otherwise inaccessible to them—such as meeting Taiwanese diplomats during a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, touring a recycling plant, or spending a weekend living in an aboriginal village. Kellan Navarre, a participant from Lewis & Clark College, commented, “I loved the balance of learning about Taiwan academically in classes and then experiencing it outside of class.”

Students learned that the U.S. and Taiwanese societies face many of the same challenges and have much to learn from each other. Participants also reported that they returned home with significantly improved Chinese-language fluency, critical thinking skills, and self-confidence.

Ethan Larson from Hope College reported, “After being exposed to such a different culture, I not only have a greater appreciation of Taiwanese history, tradition, and heritage, but also I believe I have expanded my own human relations skills. I think I am becoming a better listener, more discerning friend, and better thinker.”

Participants in both programs earned academic credit (in Chinese-language for TISLP and in political science and sociology for the TMT program) through Bryn Mawr College. With the generous support of the Taiwan Ministry of Education and private donors, American Councils provided need-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $4,500 to more than two-thirds of the Taiwan program participants.
Both programs are now accepting applications for summer 2019. For more information about the programs, email or visit the Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program and the Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan Program websites.