US college and postgraduate students arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for a two-month Chinese-language and Taiwanese culture course on a scholarship jointly established by the Taiwan-United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) and the Ministry of Education.
The ministry said it hopes to make Taiwan the top choice for foreigners to learn Chinese.
Department of International and Cross-strait Education counselor Chiu Yu-chan (邱玉蟾) said the 55 students were selected from 46 universities across 32 US states that have joined TUSA or signed memorandums of understanding with the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan.
Students are from Cornell University and Columbia University in New York and Stanford University in California, among others.
Chiu said they are to attend Chinese-language classes at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan over the coming two months.
In addition to 120 hours of Chinese-language studies, the students will also be taught about Taiwanese film and pop culture, food, art, politics and economics, as well as cross-strait relations based on the National Cheng Kung University curricula, she said.
The students are also to tour the nation, traveling from the streets of Taipei to the beaches of Kenting (墾丁), she said, adding that 46 families have offered the students board.
The ministry hopes to achieve “meaningful” diplomacy through the program by fostering “Taiwan-friendly” individuals, she said.
Ministry official Lai Yi-fan (賴羿帆) said more than 250 US students have participated in the scholarship program since its inception.
The program has come a long way since it was established in 2005, with the number of US students covered by the scholarship increasing from just four to 55, while TUSA received more than 200 applications this year.
The US is an important ally to Taiwan, Lai said, adding that he hopes the ministry can continue to work with TUSA to expand the scholarship so that more US students can visit Taiwan.
Lai said the ministry is exploring the possibility of offering the scholarship at other universities.
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