UST Students Observe Elections & Build Bridges in Taiwan
The world is wide and filled with wonder, yet it is amazing how similar we are with people who grew up thousands of miles away on a different continent and in a different culture.
This is what 19 UST students learned when they traveled to Taiwan from Dec. 29 through Jan 12 to participate in a study abroad course led by Dr. Hans Stockton, director, Center for International Studies and MPPA Program, on Contemporary Taiwan culture, history and politics. This is the seventh study abroad trip Stockton has led in Taiwan since 2005.
The trip began with New Year’s Eve in Taipei and culminated in the students serving as election observers during Taiwan’s national elections on Jan.11, an opportunity afforded to them by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Introducing students to Taiwan through such an immersive program, accompanied by high level access, is one of the most meaningful experiences I can bring to students at UST,” Stockton said. “Our students were warmly welcomed everywhere we went and many new friendships were formed. Such is the foundation for building new bridges that strengthen the links between our two great nations.”
Over the two weeks, the group circumnavigated the island with visits to the cities of Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Kaosiung and Hualien. Each destination provided students with experiences at cultural sites, political party campaign offices, government offices and visits to our sister schools, Chia Nan University and Wenzao University.
Senior international studies student, Samaria Herbert’s interest in the trip was first piqued when students from Chia Nan University visited UST. As a Residence Life Conference Coordinator, Herbert handled their arrangements for staying on campus. During their three week stay Herbert had a chance to interact with and befriend the Taiwanese students. When Dr. Stockton presented the opportunity to study abroad in Taiwan, she jumped at the chance.
“As cliche as it sounds, I learned that the world is not as big as we make it out to be,” Herbert said. “I was 12,000 miles away from home but I made connections with people just like i would in Houston. I met students who liked the same things as me, even though at the surface level, it appeared that we had nothing in common”
For more information about study abroad, visit www.stthom.edu/studyabroad.