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NSYSU has established the "Middlebury School in Taiwan," and the first cohort of students arrived in Taiwan for immersive learning


National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) is the only partner institution in Taiwan for Middlebury College in the United States. Together, they have established the "Middlebury School in Taiwan." The first cohort of four students arrived in Taiwan to embark on a 15-week immersive Chinese language learning program. In addition to the two mandatory feature courses, "Wandering in Kaohsiung" for local cultural exchange and "One-on-One Independent Study," students can also choose elective courses in "Business Chinese" or "Cross-Strait Relations." NSYSU has arranged for Taiwanese roommates to create an environment for continuous Chinese practice. These four students have significantly improved, from struggling to understand at first to presenting their final reports entirely in Chinese by the end of the term. They have also utilized their spare time to explore various parts of Taiwan, experiencing its rich and diverse culture.

NSYSU stated that Middlebury College, a prestigious member of the Little Ivies in the U.S., established the Middlebury School in Taiwan at NSYSU last year. This year marks the first time courses have been offered. The four students, Zinzi Steele, Charlotte Roberts, Lucy Patton, and Devansh Dutta, from Middlebury College and Williams College, signed a language pledge before their trip, committing to use Chinese exclusively during their time in Taiwan. Through the exclusive one-on-one independent study feature course of the Middlebury School in Taiwan, students chose topics of interest for in-depth study. With individual guidance from teachers, they explored various issues such as Taiwanese women's literature, U.S. policy toward China, the development of transgender rights in Taiwan, and the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on South Asia. They could also take elective courses in Cross-Strait Relations and Business Chinese.

Zinzi Steele mentioned that her independent study topic was Taiwanese women's literature. By reading Taiwanese literary works, she learned about the pressures and expectations Taiwanese women face in family and society, the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, and the traditional roles and statuses of women. She enjoyed the readings and gained insights into Taiwanese literature and culture.

The Cross-Strait Relations course also greatly benefited the students. Charlotte Roberts said that while she was previously aware of the overall situation, she was not clear on the details; this semester's course in Taiwan helped her understand the complexities and discover the diverse perspectives of Taiwanese people. Lucy Patton noted that the Cross-Strait Relations course was highly relevant to her independent study topic on U.S. policy toward China. Despite its complexity, she found it very interesting and discussed U.S.-China and Cross-Strait issues with the course instructors.

In the mandatory "Wandering in Kaohsiung" cultural exchange and exploration component, these students not only gained in-depth knowledge of Kaohsiung's history and culture but also visited famous landmarks such as the Pier-2 Art Center, Sanfeng Temple, and Fo Guang Shan. Zinzi Steele even attended a baseball game at Chengcing Lake Baseball Stadium, which was a novel experience. Charlotte Roberts mentioned that she had thought about what she wanted to do in Taiwan before departure and used the spring break to travel alone to the north and hike, saying, "I'm glad I accomplished it." Devansh Dutta cycled from Kaohsiung to Taipei along the west coast, combining some train rides with his journey, exploring the scenery of various towns along the way and experiencing the local customs of Taiwan.

The Office of International Affairs at NSYSU noted that this first group of students gained a multifaceted understanding of Taiwan through academics, daily life, cultural exchanges, and travel. Immersed in a fully Chinese learning environment, they not only improved their language proficiency but also enriched their cultural literacy, achieving significant results. They hope to establish a lasting international friendship between the two institutions, bringing valuable life experiences with each collaboration.
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