NSYSU Signed an MOU with MIT Chinese Language Program to Host Its 2023 IAP Chinese Abroad Program
National Sun Yat-Sen University was selected by the Chinese Language Program of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the host institution for its Chinese Abroad Program in January, 2023. This was the first time that MIT brought students to Taiwan to study Chinese over IAP (Independent Activities Period). During this two-week program, a group of ten MIT students not only visited various places for cultural exchanges to understand the diversity of Taiwan, they also experienced the festive atmosphere of the Chinese New Year with host families arranged by NSYSU.
Special trips and activities were arranged to give students experiences in traditional and contemporary Taiwanese culture, including a city tour of Kaohsiung, a class of martial arts and Tai Chi, and trips to a local night market, Cijin, Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum and Sanfeng Central Street’s New Year Shopping Area. In addition, they also visited the National Palace Museum in Taipei, took a cultural trip to Lukang in Changhua, and visited the National Museum of Taiwan History in Tainan. Many MIT students said that they had a profound experience in the tea meditation at Fo Guang Shan. They perceived the minds with subtle movements of mindfulness, which was very different from their pace of life in the United States, and brought their hearts and spirits great peace. The program end date happened to be the Lunar New Year, and NSYSU specially arranged for the host families to have a reunion dinner with the MIT students to celebrate New Year's Eve in person.
Wen-hui Anna Tang, a professor at the Center for General Education of NSYSU Si Wan College, once was a visiting scholar at MIT. She deeply felt the rigorous research and diverse academic styles of MIT, and then she also facilitated this visit of the MIT group. The MIT trip was led by Dr. Haohsiang Liao, Director of the MIT Chinese Language Program. MIT and NSYSU arranged intensive Chinese teaching courses and cultural exchanges during the visit, and the schedule was full and abundant. Along with them is Prof. Emma J. Teng, the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations at MIT, who gave lectures on Taiwan history, cuisine and culture. Dr. Haohsiang Liao pointed out that this off-site teaching is a brand-new program design. He discussed the details with the NSYSU Chinese Language Center many times after signing the MOU with NSYSU last year. The MIT Chinese Language Program off-site teaching came to Taiwan for the first time in January this year. Through the two-week intensive course, targeted Chinese language courses were arranged in the mornings and supplemented by meetings with NSYSU students to practice their conversation skills in the afternoons. The afternoon field trips also helped students to integrate the knowledge and broaden their horizons.
Dr. Liao mentioned that these ten students have studied Chinese for a number of years at MIT, so they all have a certain level of language proficiency. Nine out of the ten students came to Taiwan for the first time. The participating students hope to take this opportunity to apply what they have learned in the field, learn more about Chinese culture, and experience the diversity of Taiwan through daily activities. The NSYSU Chinese Language Center fully responded to the various cultural visit needs of MIT, selected key language partners, and carefully arranged for the host family, especially the reunion dinner on New Year's Eve, so that students could experience what were not so easy to obtain in the United States. The southern Taiwan was warm and sunny in January, allowing MIT students to see the perspective of southern Taiwan as well as northern Taiwan, and successfully participated and integrated into the local environment in Chinese.
Rachel Lu, a sophomore at MIT, is very grateful for her language partner at NSYSU, who let her understand the differences between Taiwan’s education system and the United States. Compared with the United States, Taiwan seems to place more emphasis on test scores than extracurricular activities. Eileen Liu, a junior at MIT, observed that the language and characters in Taiwan are often influenced by Japanese, and Japanese usage can be seen everywhere in Chinese titles and advertisements. Various temples, night markets, and motorcycles are often seen in Taiwanese daily life, which made her feel quite novel. Anna Chau, a senior at MIT, feels that Taiwanese are very polite and hospitable. Apart from being deeply impressed by the "buhaoyisi (pardon me)" she often hears, she often receives gifts from different people when she visits various places. "Not to mention cheap and delicious food everywhere," she likes Taiwan very much.
President Ying-Yao Cheng said the fact that NSYSU becomes the first choice for off-site teaching of the MIT Chinese Language Program in Taiwan shows NSYSU's dedication and efforts to foster Chinese language teaching. He is pleased to share the traditional Chinese culture and the beautiful campus of NSYSU with MIT teachers and students and hopes that the cooperation between the two sides in the Chinese language off-site teaching will last long.