Browsing Tag

Taiwan

FLTA

Creating Diverse & Dynamic Networks: Building a Bridge at MSU

June 30, 2020

By Jou-Chun Lai, Chinese FLTA at Michigan State University (MSU)

“我覺得我好像跟沒有出國一樣。”

I feel that I didn’t even go abroad.

A Chinese girl I met on campus uttered this phrase after I’d been at Michigan State University (MSU) as a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) for a month. It’s not hard to imagine why this student made this statement: my host institute, MSU, has a large number of students from China.

The Chinese community at MSU is very close. You can join or get information from Chinese student organizations, easily find Chinese roommates, and even work in research laboratories where everyone else is Chinese. Because of this far-reaching comfort zone, even if someone in the Chinese student community wanted to practice English, it’s hard to find a way to do so.

However, I noticed that MSU also has between 130-150 students learning Chinese as a foreign language. These students might be American, Chinese-American, or from other countries. Surprisingly, only a few of them have friends who are Chinese students.

Then, an idea came to my mind: Why not build a bridge between these two groups?

This is how everything started.

First, I worked with a student club with only one member, “ForeignersLearnChinese.” We redefined the club’s goal and started to recruit a new executive board mid-semester. During recruitment, the idea of a “Chinese Language Mingle” event came together, and we began planning. The main idea of the event came from the concept of having a language exchange partner, so we invited native Chinese students to be our table leader volunteers. Each table had a conversation topic based on different Chinese speaking levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). Participants practiced their Chinese through conversations about their family, hobbies, and other common themes. We also had some interesting conversations about the difference in dating culture between China and the United States. However, the most popular table was “Chinese Internet Slang and Abbreviations.” This is something you never learn in the classroom, but can be very practical in your daily life. If you learn some slang to use with native speakers, you’ll seem very knowledgeable and even cool.

At the end of the event was our first language partner meeting. Using a pre-survey from students learning Chinese and native Chinese speakers, we matched language pairs based on mutual majors or hobbies. After the first meeting at our event, they could hang out by themselves, choosing to practice more Chinese or English.

It was amazing to see them find their partners, start to talk in Chinese, and maybe begin new friendships. I started to imagine that as my students began to communicate with each other more, they would come to not only know more authentic Chinese, but also understand the diversity of the Chinese language. I also imagined that the native Chinese students would gain deeper insights into American culture and student life.

As a FLTA, I know that I’m just a passerby, and leaving soon. These students might forget everything I practiced with them in the textbook, but I believe having a local friend who is a native speaker is the best way to keep your motivation up and practice a foreign language. Language is not just a subject, but a medium to connect with others. Having a chance to build a bridge for my students is the most meaningful thing I’ve done during this journey.

In the beginning, I always felt disheartened reading about other Fulbrighters who always seemed brilliant and successful. It seemed like I was the only one who was lost and couldn’t find meaning and value. If you also feel the same way sometimes, just remind yourself that it’s normal. Be patient with yourself, take a breath, observe your surroundings, and open your mind and imagination to new solutions. Everything happens for a reason and I hope hearing my story will help you find your own way.

U.S. Fulbright

To Taiwan and Beyond!

June 6, 2016
Lucille Boco

Lucille Boco, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan

In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad. 

 大 家好! (大-Dà,家-jiā,好-hǎo- Hello everyone!) My name is Boco and I’m currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Taidong City, in Taiwan. Taiwan is a small island in the Pacific Ocean, north of the Philippines, and south of Japan. The temperature in Taiwan is very hot, so it takes a while to get used to. Especially if, like me, you are used to the cold temperatures of New England.

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U.S. Fulbright

Finding a Home

June 25, 2014
Aubrey Doye 1

Aubrey Doyle, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Taiwan, with 6th Grade Fuxing Elementary School Students

“Where is home?”

For most people, this is a very straightforward question. But for me, it’s a little more complicated. Although I was born in the United States, I spent most of my life living in Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. I have grappled with the concept of “home” for as many years as I can remember. I knew my Fulbright year would be special, but when I reflect on my experience, I realize that I walked away with lifelong friends who are a second family to me, and with memories that truly symbolize the feeling of “home” I have for Taiwan.

Before I went to Taiwan, I promised myself to live every day to the fullest. I ran two marathons, traveled throughout the country, attended religious and cultural ceremonies, and even earned my Taekwondo black belt.

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U.S. Fulbright

A Slew of New Opportunities

September 27, 2012

In the last couple months, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program has added several new opportunities throughout the world, from Laos to Greece to Senegal, in both English Teaching Assistanship and Study/Research (full) categories of grants. Here’s a quick listing below, with three from just the last two days!

With the deadline only a few weeks away, could one of these new opportunities be the one you were looking for?