CIC Students Study in Taiwan through Partner Programs

CIC has partnered with the American Councils for International Education for several years to provide member colleges and universities with a range of discounted services designed to advance international engagement on their campuses. During summer 2019, a total of 11 students representing eight CIC member institutions—Albion (MI), Hope (MI), Kenyon (OH), McDaniel (MD), and Swarthmore (PA) colleges and DePauw (IN), Pepperdine (CA), and Tuskegee (AL) universities—explored Taiwan’s society, language, and culture through two immersive study abroad programs administered by American Councils. Representing nearly one-quarter of the 47 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.

Five CIC students engaged in Chinese-language study through the eight-week Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program (TISLP) held at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. Now in its fourth year, the program helps 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.

Eight students pose in front of fountain
TISLP participants often take advantage of their free time on weekends to explore the many museums and historic sites located in and around the historic host city of Tainan. Pictured: CIC students Mari Holben (back row, far left) and Fritz Josephson (front row, center) of Kenyon College (OH) and Evan Perez (back row, second from right) of DePauw University (IN) and their peers visiting the Chimei Museum, which hosts one of Taiwan’s largest collections of musical instruments, fine arts pieces, and natural history collections.

The program focuses on helping students develop the practical skills necessary to explore and debate timely societal issues such as climate change, social equity, and food security through daily conversation and discussion classes. This year, participants took this exploration one step further by working with their conversation partners to research an issue of their choice and compare how it is addressed in Taiwan and the United States. Student research spanned a wide range of topics, including gender inequality, environmental protection, standardized testing, health care, and the role of media in politics.

Six CIC students joined this summer’s four-week Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan (TMT) Program, held at National Chengchi University in Taipei. The program included English-language coursework on Taiwanese history, politics, culture, and societal issues as well as Chinese-language instruction, cultural workshops, and excursions designed to bring the themes discussed in the classroom to life. The program’s format of alternating classroom discussion and hands-on exploration provided students with experiences otherwise inaccessible to them—including meeting Taiwanese diplomats during a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, touring a recycling plant, and spending a weekend living in an aboriginal village. Through final research presentations comparing societal issues in Taiwan and the United States, participants explored topics such as national identity, the rights of indigenous communities, and the influence of American culture in Taiwanese society.

Students, some holding bows, pose with members of the community
TMT Program participants visited the Wulai aboriginal village, where they had the opportunity to learn about traditional archery and weaving techniques from community members.

Participants reported returning to the United States having significantly improved their Chinese-language fluency, critical thinking skills, and self-confidence. Namara Swillum, a student from Albion College, reflected, “[The TMT program] has taught me not only about the history of Taiwan, but it also has taught me to believe in myself. . . . This experience will stay with me for life.”

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 offered need-based scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,500 to two-thirds of the Taiwan program participants.  

Both programs are now accepting applications for summer 2020. For more information, email or view the program websites: Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program and Tradition and Modernity in Taiwan Program.