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Ten MIT undergrads went to Taiwan to study Chinese for two weeks over IAP. The program was hosted by the Chinese Language Center of National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The campus is situated along the Kaohsiung port, the largest harbor in Taiwan. The students were mostly Chinese language minors and concentrators.
In the mornings, students participated in a Chinese language class taught by MIT Senior Lecturer Haohsiang Liao. In the afternoons and weekends, students had meeting with NSYSU students to practice their conversation skills, attended lectures on history and culture topics with Professor Emma Teng, or participated in field trips.
The group visited Buddhist temples, cultural sites, and local city attractions, as well as visited the popular tourist destination of Cijin island.
Special trips and activities were arranged to give students experiences in traditional and contemporary Taiwanese culture, including a martial arts class, and a tea ceremony and guided tours of the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Kaohsiung. At the National Museum of Taiwan History in Tainan, students had the chance to participate in a Q&A session with museum director, Dr. Lung-chih Chang. At the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum, students learned about Buddhism and participated in a tea meditation. A trip to Taipei allowed students to visit the National Palace Museum and Taipei 101, a renowned engineering feat.
One of the best aspects of this study-abroad experience, explained Haohsiang Liao, was the interactions between the MIT group and peers from the NSYSU campus. “Four university families,” he explained, “hosted students for a Chinese New Year dinner, enabling them to experience an authentic holiday, including dumpling-making at home.” He continued, “Students from both universities really enjoyed their interactions. And at the closing ceremony, students expressed their appreciation with heartfelt words.”