US student studying at NCKU shares her Taiwan experience
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- You have probably spotted a group of American students around the campus of National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Southern Taiwan, over the last few weeks as they are head to their Mandarin class or culture course. Or perhaps you might have seen them doing Tai chi under the banyan tree in the beautiful afternoons.
August 19, 2013, 11:57 am TWN
Currently, there are 36 American students who are part of the Taiwan United States Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA) Ambassador Summer Scholarship Program, learning Mandarin and studying Chinese culture as well as experiencing the Taiwanese life style.
“I didn't expect a scholarship to provide so many different opportunities,” said Allison Gray, one of the TUSA students.
“Most scholarships provide you money but this scholarship provides you friends, new experience and new language. I think it's much more valuable than just money.”
Gray, an American student from the University of Maryland, who is a journalism major and aspires to become an international reporter, has been writing about her experience at NCKU from Day 1. So far Gray has posted 19 entries.
“The program went great! I love my language partner. I love my tutors ... I think it couldn't have gone better,” and she feels incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to travel to Taiwan and learn about Asian language and culture, with the idea of one day reporting on this region of the world.
Gray noted that the daily schedule generally involved a one-on-one tutoring session and a small group language class in the morning and a speech about Taiwan's culture and an elective class in the afternoon.
“For elective class, I signed up for Chinese painting and Tai chi,” said Gray and she mentioned that when she was talking with a friend on Skype about her Tai chi class, the friend said, “That doesn't sound like a scholarship!” which makes her laugh.
When asked about the difficulties of learning Chinese painting, Gray responded, “I think the shading is quite tricky because when it's too dark then you cannot take it back. So I try to do it very light at first.”
In addition to language class and culture class, the Chinese Language Center (CLC) of NCKU arranged culture tours to Taipei, Kenting and Kaohsiung for TUSA students during the weekends.
Gray shared a vivid memory of her experience of Taiwan's culture. It was at a temple on Shiding Old Street, Taipei. “I saw people were praying, incense was burning, smoke dissipating into the air in front of dragons carved into the temple's pillars, which is really beautiful.”
“There was a ceremony in which another god was paying a visit to this temple's god ... firecrackers, vibrant costumes, and the rhythmic beating of a drum. I have never experienced an environment quite like this,” Gray added.
The eight-week TUSA program kicked off on July 1 and will last through to Aug. 23.