Thursday, August 9, 2012


Hi everyone. As of tomorrow I'll have been outside the United States for fourteen consecutive months. I've spent the majority of that time in Mainland China in various locations, spending my junior year studying Chinese. In between traveling and studying in China I also had the opportunity to visit both Vietnam and the Philippines. As it would seem, I have a lot of stories I could tell. For now, I'll focus on my time in Taiwan.

I've been studying at National Chengchi University in Taipei for the past several weeks, for a summer exchange program with GW. I'm currently taking an advanced Chinese course as well as a comprehensive international affairs course, Taiwan in the Global Context.

Summer exchange students are all placed in the International Students House, which is converted from a hotel that went bankrupt several years ago due to the nonstrategic, suburban residential location. Indeed, the campus is quite far from downtown Taipei. However, it is situated against the background of mountains, from which there are excellent views of the sunset and downtown Taipei. Having been a hotel previously and then renovated the dorms are all very modern one-person and two-person suites.

I would rate the quality of instruction and overall experience quite highly for both courses. I am in the Advanced Chinese class, which is three hours of class, four days a week. The class size is very good, with only seven people, including a person from Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, South Korea, and two second generation Taiwanese Americans. Indeed, the majority of the students in the summer exchange program are from Europe or Asia, most of whom are very friendly, so those interested in having a different experience than American-oriented programs abroad should consider NCCU. Our Chinese professor is very enthusiastic about teaching, and is very active throughout the class, constantly writing new words and terms on the board, leading discussions on various topics of interest. Our class is focused on reading Taiwanese newspaper articles. As a result, in the process of learning about issues such as the Taiwanese election in 2000, hospice care, genetic engineering, Chinese medicine, and Taiwanese indigenous tribes, I've also made significant progress in my reading and writing ability for traditional characters. Everyone in the class gets along very well, below is a picture.

The past two weeks, I've also partaken in school-organized one-on-two Chinese tutoring, which is also three hours a day. Because of the GW exchange program and tuition waiver with NCCU, these 12 hours of focused teaching have been free.

Taiwan in the Global Context is also a course I would recommend to students for next summer. It consists of 16 2-hour lectures, as well as several cultural workshops and field trips. The tuition covers the cost of all the field trips and workshops. The class is divided into three parts, the first part about Taiwanese history and culture, such as the progression from Dutch colony to Japanese occupation, and finally the present situation. The second part deals entirely with issues pertaining to cross-straits relations, especially the problem of Taiwanese identity. That section is taught by Professor Tang Shao-cheng, one of the most prominent scholars in Taiwan with an expertise in cross-strait relations. Among his accomplishments was successfully advising Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-Jeou to form the "special relationship" policy with Beijing.

The field trips are also interesting, such as this trip to make Pineapple cakes:

So far, I've enjoyed myself a lot in Taiwan, and have learned a lot as well. That's it for now.

Ian Everhart, B.A. Economics, B.A. Chinese May 2013, Sigur Center Chinese Language Fellow, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

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