Michael Paul, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Chinese, Brigham Young University-Idaho; 2007 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
In 2007 I received a TECO Huayu Enrichment Scholarship and spent six months studying in Taiwan. I specifically chose to study in Taiwan because the great reputation that many of the language programs there have. Additionally, I was concerned about finding a program where I could study at the advanced level. Finally, I have a family with small children and felt comfortable taking them to a developed country like Taiwan because of the excellent healthcare facilities and family friendly environment.
The generous scholarship from TECO and excellent language program at National Taiwan University made it possible for me to accomplish my language learning goals. After completion of my studies I was able to land a Chinese language teaching position at a university and currently teaching beginning and intermediate level Chinese language classes. I now recommend that my own students consider studying in Taiwan and applying for the TECO Huayu Enrichment scholarship.
Robert Kazmarek III, Asia Pacific Regional Facilities Manager at Adobe, 2005 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
I was in my fourth year of university Chinese when I graduated from UC San Diego. I had already studied abroad in Shanghai the previous summer and felt strongly in control of Mandarin and my future. When I graduated, I wanted to be successful professionally yet, unfortunately, I didn't know how. My fourth year professor (Chen Pei-Chia) suggested I consider TECO's scholarship offer to study Chinese in Taiwan; that the opportunity to experience Taiwan, life, and my approach to it all would be more valuable to me than anything at that current point in my life.
Skeptical, I refused and subsequently turned down the offer. 24 hours later, when I came to realize my mistake, it was too late - my scholarship had been given to someone else. I pleaded for reinstatement and was put on the wait list. Two weeks later, I learned my request was granted and I was on my way to Taiwan later that summer.
From that point on, I looked at Taiwan as a gift and I to this day have never questioned my change of heart. When I began this adventure, Taiwan was a possibility that shouldn't have existed but for unexplained circumstances commingling in a perfect set of scenarios. When I finished as a scholarship recipient I realized I had grown as a human being. I had been a resident of a foreign country, a student of the culture, a veteran of a Taiwanese basketball league, a traveler of the island, and I hope a slightly more learned individual at the end than I was before.
The result, summed up in two words, was confidence and perspective. Without the opportunity that TECO afforded me, I would not have been able to as confidently stake a claim to the understanding of language, culture, and people that I now have more of.
I joined Adobe Systems on a temporary contract one year after I returned from Taiwan. Less than one year after that, I had carved out a need for my unique skill set in Asia Pacific field site facilities management. Because of my educational background and language ability, I took responsibility for managing our remote offices in Asia from my location in San Diego. Shortly thereafter I became a full time employee, and a year after that I moved up to San Jose and was promoted to manager.
Recently I had a chance to look back on what I have accomplished professionally and personally while I was flying to Tokyo for the first leg of my most recent trip to Asia. On that same trip I had a chance to stop in Taipei. In addition to my visit to our Taipei office, I saw my old friends, walked the streets, drank the pearl tea, and reflected on the last four years. From an arrogant college kid to a scared college graduate, all the way now to a slightly more insightful and well-rounded individual, I have admittedly come a long way. Would I have made it to this point without TECO and Taiwan? Perhaps, though if I had a chance to do it all over again I would not have risked the 24 hour period of indecision. Taiwan was too valuable to me and too crucial a foundation that supported my growth for me to leave my future success in the hands of another recipient who didn't know what they were giving up.
Even now I can say Taiwan felt like home. I lived, loved, and experienced in Taiwan. It was a home that changed me. I invested a lot in Taiwan and Taiwan graciously returned the favor. If you are questioning whether to go, don't. Just go.
Taiwan will change your life.
Jonathan H. X. Lee, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies of San Francisco State University, 2005 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
I was awarded the Taiwan Ministry of Education Scholarships, for modern and classical Chinese, and Minnanese studies at the International Chinese Language Program at the National Taiwan University (September 2005-March 2006). This scholarship was crucial to my success as a graduate student. The funding and opportunity to study in Taiwan assisted me in my doctoral studies at UC Santa Barbara in Religious Studies because I was able to conduct research on contemporary Chinese religions while living and studying in Taiwan.
My ethnographic research required that I become proficient in spoken Mandarin and Taiwanese, because I work with transnational Taiwanese Americans who live in San Francisco, with lives that straddle both the United States and Taiwan. I will always remember my friends and teachers at NTU. Taipei is an amazing city with lots of art and culture. The people of Taiwan were generous and welcoming. The food exceptional and international in scope and flavors. I not only learned Mandarin and Taiwanese, I discovered my Chinese heritage and experienced a society with advance public transportation, universal healthcare, and a level of public safety that is unmatchable any where else.
Today, I am an Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, in part because the Taiwan Ministry of Education Scholarship made it possible for me to complete my doctoral research and acquire the language and cultural skills I needed. I am forever grateful for their investment in me and my future.
Natalie Kochan - Undergraduate student of Chinese Studies, Cal State Long Beach; 2007 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
"Taiwan has really changed my life! Not only has my Chinese improved far beyond what I imagined possible, but I have fallen in love with Taiwan and learned so much from my Taiwanese friends. The Taiwanese people are incredibly kind and really helped me feel comfortable and get adjusted to a place so far and different from home.
Taiwan is absolutely beautiful with a rich culture and history, and I think it is an ideal place to study Mandarin. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to study in a full-immersion environment because it really makes all the difference. It wouldn't have been possible for me without the financial assistance provided by the Huayu Scholarship, and I am eternally grateful to the Taiwan Ministry of Education for helping me to afford this wonderful experience. 我愛台灣! (I love Taiwan)"
Greg Brown - Master’s student of East Asian Languages and Cultures, USC; 2007 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
Many people have talked about the beauty of Taiwan with nature, mountains, hot-springs, and beaches and so I have always wanted to travel there. Also, there are many advantages to study of culture and language in Taiwan such as the continued use of traditional Chinese characters, and the world-famous National Palace Museum artifacts.
The scholarship was a great help. It allowed me to focus on study by defraying the costs of living for food, rent, and tuition. I also felt that the teachers appreciated having recipients of the scholarship in their classes, as a testament of commitment to study Chinese by students from other countries. The biggest help was that the scholarship allowed me to immerse my study with Taiwan's societal interaction without having the distraction of financial concerns.
I am thrilled about having this opportunity to study in Taiwan and the insights I gained. The safe environment of Taiwan allows for students from abroad to interact daily with the rich vitality of Taiwan's people and culture. Of course, I should also mention the comfortable weather and ease of traveling around by public transportation. For my particular area of study interest, classes helped tremendously with understanding famous classical Chinese literature. There was also the ready availability to fit time in our schedule with classes in traditional arts such as calligraphy, painting or music.
My favorite thing in Taiwan is the environment for study. By environment, my meaning is the combination of the pleasant weather, helpful mentality of the people, easy direct access to history and culture, availability of interesting and fun places such as the night markets, and respect for learning that is so obvious by the many supply stores for calligraphy, painting and music.
Nicole Barnes – Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Duke University, 2007 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
I chose to do language study in Taiwan for two reasons, one shallow the other meaningful. First, I prefer traditional to simplified characters. Second, I had already lived in mainland China and wanted to have some experience with Taiwanese society, rather than let China alone speak for Chinese culture. I had assumed that there would be stark differences between China and Taiwan, but after arriving in Yilan I discovered more similarities than I had expected. In the end, I think that the two countries are like “one family, two households”: that is, they are like two brothers from the same family who set up separate households. They share the same language, love of food, understanding of health and the body, and even have almost the same history. I saw the biggest differences in their respective political and religious practices. In Taiwan, it was very refreshing to me, as a young woman from the democratic U.S., to be in a society where almost everyone read the newspaper and felt free to comment on politics. I also loved the visibility and vibrance of religious life in Taiwan, which I was very close to as a student at Fo Guang University in Yilan. Our classes were on the 3rd floor of a building whose 11th and 12th floors housed a Buddhist temple, where my participation in some of the religious activities was warmly welcomed.
Because I chose to go to a more remote location, rather than to Taipei, I was able to enjoy many unique privileges. I received excellent instruction at Fo Guang University from Zhan Yating, Tina Zhan. She was the most experienced instructor there, and I had one-on-one instruction with her throughout the summer. I was able to rent a scooter in order to get around town (which, I understand, one cannot do in Taipei, where rules are more strictly followed). I took evening classes in vegetarian cooking and calligraphy. One day Zhan Laoshi cut class short so that we could witness a Buddhist wedding ceremony in the temple upstairs. Yilan was really the perfect location: on the weekends it was very easy to take the 1.5-hour train ride to Taibei to see the big city.
I am very glad that I chose to do my summer language study in Taiwan. After my classes were over I spent a few weeks in Taipei doing research for my PhD dissertation at the Academia Historica and Academia Sinica. As I discovered, archival research is very easy in Taiwan: the archivists are very helpful and one does not need to worry about political sensitivities in requesting certain documents, as can often be the case in China. I feel very fortunate to have received the Hua Yu scholarship and strongly encourage other students to apply.
Reed Bernet, - Undergraduate student of History, UC Santa Barbara; 2007 Huayu Enrichment Scholarship Recipient
As the plane dropped below the cloud line and began its descent towards CKS International Airport, I remember being struck by how green Taiwan was. The whole island seemed to be covered in a jungle so lush and verdant my Southern Californian mind had difficulty fully comprehending. Taipei was a gleaming urban center, nestled in a mountain valley, and the tall, modern buildings seemed to jut out at the plane – I was always used to the suburban sprawl of San Diego.
Before getting on the plane to Taipei, I had no idea what to expect. I had gone to the orientation at the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, and done some more research into the facts and figures that make up Taiwan, but I was largely unprepared for what actually awaited me.
First, the people. In Taipei, my classes were filled with people from every corner of the Earth. I will never forget going to lunch with my classmates and having hilarious conversations with Koreans, Japanese, and Germans all in Chinese. Making friends with Taiwanese people is a little more difficult, but people in Taipei were so friendly that if you make any effort at all you can at least make a few local friends. People in Taipei are generally well educated and economically well off – I guarantee there are people who share your hobby, no matter how obscure.
I also traveled the length and breadth of Taiwan. Taiwan is a small island, and the transportation system is cheap, efficient, and reliable. There were many weekends where my friends and I would take a one way train to the West or South, knowing that no matter how remote an area we ended up in, there would always be at least a bus back to Taipei. Taiwan has some truly beautiful locations, and anyone who spends any amount of time there absolutely must take a few weekends to visit Taroko Gorge, Hualien, the hot springs at Green Island, and Kending.
Finally, the food. Taipei is so metropolitan it can cater to any culinary appetite. I had Thai, Tex-Mex, Japanese, Chinese-Muslim, and some delicious New York bagels. Personally, I miss curry the most. I ate at the same curry place every day for a week before my flight home. Taipei is filled with small restaurants, and before you know it you will find yourself calling some of them your own.
And to me, that was one of the defining experiences of my studies in Taiwan. I walked the streets without a map, knew the store owners by name, had “my” restaurants, and before I knew it, Taipei was “my” city.
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