Sun, Nov 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

International students get down at culture fair

MYRIAD REASONS Foreign students come to Taiwan to study for all sorts of reasons; everything from the world-class technology to the generous scholarships

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Students from 55 different countries put together a show to remember at the International College Students' Cross-cultural Fair yesterday.

Bellydancers from Turkey, jugglers from Costa Rica and dikir barat singers from Malaysia all participated in the event at the Taipei National University of the Arts.

All participants were international students studying in Taiwan.

Yan Hui-ju (楊惠如), the news coordinator of the event, said the number of students at the festival exceeded expectations.

"We got 600 registration forms, but we estimate the number of attendants is closer to 1,000," she said.

Chang Chin-sheng (張欽盛) director general of the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations at the Ministry of Education (MOE) was in attendance at the performances.

"Taiwan is encouraging qualified and outstanding international students to make Taiwan their first choice for degree studies and language training," Chang told the audience at the performance.

One of the students, Diccon Sandrey, is studying International Law on an MOE scholarship at National Taiwan University.

Sandrey, who is from Bristol, England, originally considered going to China to learn Chinese, but a Taiwanese friend convinced him to come to Taiwan instead.

"Now my favorite food is stinky tofu," said Diccon at the performance, which he co-emceed.

Wen Lee Martinez Sandoval from Honduras also chose Taiwan partially for personal reasons.

"I have ancestors from here," explained Sandoval. "But it is also very good for computer science, which is what I'm studying."

"Taiwanese people are very honest, and of all the people in the world, they don't hate foreigners," said Harihara Padhy of India, who is studying for a doctorate in material science at National Chiao Tung University. "I chose Taiwan because it is so advanced in light-emitting-diode technology."

For other students, the scholarship offered by the MOE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to many international students is a definite incentive.

"The scholarship made a big difference in my decision to come to Taiwan to learn Chinese," said Shazia John who is originally from St Vincents in the Carribean.

After a year in a language center, John is now studying chemical engineering at Tamkang University.

The bulk of the teaching and all the tests are conducted in Chinese, John said.

"I think they are very eager to internationalize," said John of Taiwanese higher education. "However, I don't know if they are quite ready for it yet."

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