CIC Students Gain International Experience during Inaugural Taiwan Program

In June, three students and one faculty advisor from CIC member institutions Tuskegee University (AL) and McDaniel College (MD) participated in the inaugural year of Two Weeks in Taiwan, an immersive study abroad program administered by American Councils for International Education and sponsored in part by the Taiwan Ministry of Education. Developed to provide students of CIC member institutions with international exposure, the program introduces students to Taiwan’s rich cultural heritage, vibrant democracy, and safe environment, all of which make the island an accessible destination for first-time travelers and those with little or no background in Chinese language and culture. Through support from the Taiwanese Ministry of Education, American Councils was able to offer partial merit and need-based scholarships to participants from CIC institutions.
 

A McDaniel College student and a Taiwanese student pose holding food they made in a cooking class.
McDaniel College (MD) sophomore Connor Klotzbach and a local student volunteer show off the product of their hard work during a Taiwanese cooking class. (Photo Credit: Chun Chieh Chen of Chang Jung Christian University)

During their two weeks at Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan, the students became acquainted with Taiwanese society and Chinese language and culture through beginner Mandarin Chinese classes; topical lectures on history, politics, business, and philosophy; interactive courses in calligraphy, painting, music, martial arts, and cooking; excursions to sites of historical, cultural, and natural significance throughout Taiwan; and a weekend living with and learning from a local host family.
 
Participants awarded the program high marks and cited the support and hospitality of program staff and student volunteers as critical factors in helping students (most of whom were first-time international travelers) feel comfortable and well-prepared during their two weeks abroad. “Our conversations and laughs together will be forever cherished. I can’t wait to visit again,” remarked Tuskegee University senior Shonteria Thomas.
 
Lisa Bratton, assistant professor of history at Tuskegee University who accompanied the students as a faculty advisor, was particularly impressed with the diversity of classes included in the program, saying, “The program touched upon so many cultural aspects—first-timers got an excellent orientation.”
 
To help students extend their experience beyond this initial orientation, Bratton now leads a Taiwan-focused independent study course and has helped students continue their Mandarin studies through weekend classes at a local Chinese-language school.
 
American Councils is now extending this study abroad opportunity to other students at CIC member colleges and universities to help them gain international perspective in a critical region of the world. The application period for the second year of the program will open in October 2016; some scholarship support is available. For more information about the program and how to apply, email taiwan@americancouncils.org.
 

Program participants pose in front of the Biotanico Inc. office building.
Program participants visit a company in Tainan’s Science Industrial Park.



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