Mallorie Miller from Ashland University’s Global Education Office accompanied nine Ashland University students who spent six and a half weeks of their summer in Taiwan as part of the University’s Dauch College of Business in Taiwan summer program.
The students who participated in this trip were Bradley Metcalfe, an entrepreneurship major from Willard, Ohio; Casey Neer, a marketing major from West Salem, Ohio; Cory Grahl, a hospitality management major from Parma, Ohio; Jacob Miller, a business management major from Bellevue, Ohio; Lindsey Cerimele, a marketing major from Warren, Ohio; Michael Gase, a business management major from Pickerington, Ohio; Mykenna Schlorb, a history major from Mansfield, Ohio; Peter Djordjevich, a finance major from North Royalton, Ohio; and Phillip Metcalf, an entrepreneurship major from Ashland, Ohio.
The students spent much of their time at Providence University in the Wu Chi district of Taichung, Taiwan. The summer program involved students enrolling in two Providence University classes – Mandarin language and Cross Cultural Business and Management Seminar. Providence University paired the students with learning partners, who were Providence University students interested in improving their English and knowledge of the American Culture.
“A key objective of the program is to provide meaningful exposure to an Asian market and culture for Ashland University’s business students,” said Dr. Khush Pittenger, professor of management and coordinator of the COBE in Taiwan program. “It is a unique opportunity as not many students are likely to travel to Asia on their own and there are no other Ashland University travel abroad programs that focus heavily on Asia.”
According to Pittenger, Asia has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and such international experiences bring to life what students read in textbooks and newspapers. Pittenger also thanked Alan and Julie Roth for providing the generous financial support to make this program possible and affordable for Ashland University students.
This year’s program also involved students visiting a number of Taiwanese local enterprises, including Gold-Joint Industries – ACE, a Taiwanese-based geosynthetic company. In addition, the students did some sightseeing and visited Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, and Taichung as well as towns in southern Taiwan and Sun-Moon Lake.
Dr. Jeff Russell, dean of the Dauch College of Business and Economics, said this program is a great opportunity for Ashland University students to experience urban attractions of the third-largest city in Taiwan, which has a population of one million plus. “Any international experience significantly improves students’ visibility with prospective employers,” he said.
The students had great things to say about the experience.
“All of the traveling we did while on the island and experiencing the culture was absolutely amazing,” Neer said. “Getting outside my comfort zone was difficult but in the end I’m glad I took the leap. In my opinion everyone should experience a culture outside of their own. It shows you that there is more to the world you know. Which is something many people can benefit from.”
Sivik said the friendships that she made in such a short amount of time have been one of the greatest parts of the trip. “Getting to know our learning partners was a great experience. It is incredible that we were all able to become friends despite a slight language barrier and the fact that we come from two different cultures. Having international friendships has made me realize that the world is not really as big as it seems,” she said.
Sivik called Taipei “a gorgeous city” with a cluster of buildings between hills of trees and surrounded by mountains. “We were able to get another incredible view from Taipei 101. Taipei 101 is the most famous skyscraper in Taiwan and is currently the fifth tallest building in the world, reaching 1,670 feet,” she said. “We were also able to ride in the world’s fastest elevator. Our ears were popping from the rapid change in elevation.”
Miller described a typical day in the life of an AU exchange student in Taiwan.
“We would wake up around 8 to go and get breakfast at what we fondly called Breakfast Street. Then, we walked back up the hill to campus and climbed the steps of St. Peter Hall to go to Mandarin Class,” he said. “We were in Mandarin Class from 9 a.m. until noon. We had this class every day of the week. Both of our professors were extremely enthusiastic and loved that we were grasping both the culture and the language so quickly.”
Miller continued, “Then we had break time for lunch. Usually, we ordered in food which was usually rice, noodles (with or without soup), dumplings or even McDonald’s. After lunch was done, then the fun began. We would either have a planned program or free time to discover the city on our own.”
Miller noted that July 23rd was a typhoon day, which was much like a snow day in America except that people did not go outside and play in it. “The entire city of Taichung, both businesses and schools alike, were closed down due to typhoon Matmo. We were cooped up in our dorm room for the entire day,” he said.
Metcalfe said the group of Ashland University students that have traveled together shared an amazing bond.
“Walking down crowded streets, climbing snake infested mountains, tasting the bitter salt from the ocean mist and smelling the exotic spices mixed in the local foods will be remembered by all of us,” Metcalfe said. “Most importantly not only will we remember the sights that we have laid our eyes upon, but we will remember the smiling faces that we have so often turned to when a smile had stretched from ear to ear on our faces.”
He said one of the coolest places the students visited was the beach in Kenting. “We also went to visit Sanxiantai (in Taitung) and also watched an Aboriginal Tribe dance, we were even treated by an invitation to dance with them,” he said. “Talk about an experience. Just think, the natives who wish to hold onto their history and lush culture so firm, are happy and willing to extend a hand and share that with people that they hardly know.”
Cerimele said the group also had the opportunity to travel to Lukang, one of Taiwan’s most important cities. “Lukang is extremely important to the Taiwanese culture because of the incredible number of temples (more than 200) that the city houses,” she said. “Lukang is also crucial to Taiwan because of its close proximity to a harbor.”
Metcalf described the Xitou Forrest, which offers some of the most breathtaking views in Taiwan. “We spent much of a day exploring what this tropical forest had to offer. Attractions included a 100 meter rope bridge, a 25 meter bridge made from bamboo, miles upon miles of walking paths, hammocks, and an elevated walking path that took you up through the canopy of the forest,” he said.
“Being several feet up among the tree tops was a great experience, but the views were something that cannot be explained. The forest offered exotic looking trees, giant snakes, ponds filled with koi up to five feet in length, oriental gardens, flowing streams, waterfalls, butterflies, and an amazing 6.644 foot view from the top of Lingtou Mountain,” he added.
Metcalf also noted that Taiwan is a relatively small island with very little area to dispose of waste. “As a result the Taiwanese are very conscientious of what they do with their trash and take recycling very seriously,” he said. “The resources on the island are very scarce and the Taiwanese are forced to import most of their raw goods. The recycling rate is near a staggering 50 percent and you can be sure the Taiwanese find new creative ways to use recycled goods in their products.”
Grahl said he was very impressed by the visit to Gold Joint Industry and learned much information about the dynamics of geo-engineering. “It was fascinating to see how they build structures without that much concrete. It is easy to see why Gold Joint has won three international achievement awards. We then went to a fish market and were overwhelmed by the variety of fresh seafood,” he said.
Grahl also talked about the group’s trip to the American Chamber Festival, where they listened to music and tried new food. “We also went to Jade Market where we bought more souvenirs,” he said.
Gase added that the group also enjoyed its visit to the new Taichung City Government building. “We were able to tour this building and learned about the building and some of the history of Taiwan and its government,” he said. “Following this we went to one of the shopping malls close by and we attended Ding tai feng, which is famous for its dumplings or xiaolongbao. The rest of the day we spent touring the rest of Taichung and the night market.”