Chang Wei-chun (張瑋純), a 16-year-old student at Taipei Zhongshan Girls’ High School, has long dreamed of studying abroad, so she has dedicated a lot of time to learning English.
Since her family is not well-off, she has been unable to afford a trip overseas — until now. Thanks to an international exchange program run by the Taipei City Government, she will spend a year in the US as an exchange student.
The program, now in its second year, has selected 11 high-school students to study at public high schools in the US or Canada for a year. It offers full or partial scholarships depending on the income of the applicant’s family.
Chang and another two students have received full scholarships of NT$700,000 to NT$800,000 (US$23,400 to US$26,700), while the other eight students have received NT$75,000 scholarships.
Chang said on Wednesday that while it is scary to think about leaving her comfort zone, she plans to take advantage of the year-long program to sharpen her English, explore US culture and introduce Taiwan to foreigners.
“I have never been on a plane before, and I feel so lucky to be able to study in the US. I want to experience every traditional holiday in the States, and learn about their culture and language,” she said at a press conference at Taipei City Hall.
Congratulating the 11 students, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the exchange program aimed to provide more opportunities for the city’s students to study abroad.
“Studying abroad is a great way to broaden your horizons and raise your international competitiveness. The city hopes that the program will help more young people fulfill their dreams,” he said.
The city spent NT$20 million to send five high-school students to study in Canada last year. It has doubled its budget this year and plans to continue to expand the scope of the program and cooperate with schools in more countries.