Tomball City Mayor Declares August 1“Taipei City International Students Day”
Tomball City Mayor Declares August 1“Taipei City International Students Day”Photo (L-R): Dr. Lee Ann Nutt, President of Lone Star College-Tomball; Liao Wen-Cheng, Chief Secretary of the Taipei City Education Department; Gretchen Fagan, Mayor of Tomball City; and Sophie Chou, Director of the Education Division of TECO in Houston
On August 1, 2016, Lone Star College-Tomball held a “meet and greet welcoming party” to welcome fifteen high school students from Taipei City for its two-week summer program in Rocket Science and Robotics.
The Education Department of Taipei City funds a global internship program for its vocational high school students. Its aims are to extend students’ experience of learning professional skills, raise their awareness of global industry trends, and enhance their understanding of different cultural contexts, through study abroad visits where they stay with local host families during the summer. The program has been run each year for four years now and admission to the program is getting more competitive each year. Participants are selected based on their academic performance, their Chinese and English language proficiency, and other eligibility criteria set for a particular group’s target subject area. The Taipei City government pays half of the cost for each participant and the participants are each responsible for the remaining cost.
One of the groups organized by the Taipei City government for this year was the Aerospace Engineering Technology Internship and Culture Immersion Tour USA 2016, in light of its global internship program missions.
Gretchen Fagan, the Tomball City Mayor; Bruce Hilligeist, president of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce; and Sophie Chou, Director of the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston joined Dr. Lee Ann Nutt, President of the Lone Star College-Tomball, and the host families at the welcoming party. Mayor Fagan expressed Tomball City’s warm welcome to the Taiwanese students by declaring August 1 as the Day of the Taipei City International Students.
The two-week program consisted of morning sessions on rocket science, and afternoon sessions on robotics, and there were also weekend field trips to Johnson Space Center, Lone Star Flight Museum, Oil Drilling Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Battleship Texas, Rice University, and the United Airline airplane maintenance center.
In contrast to the very modern technology-related lessons and excursions, the visiting students lived with host families in the Tomball area, enjoying the luxury of countryside living style. The ranch houses, acres of land with cattle and livestock, the scenery, and a relaxing ambience are all typical of Tomball. Their stay in this welcoming city offered the students a one of a kind cultural immersion experience that they had never had in Taiwan where they have a metropolitan lifestyle.
During the program’s closing ceremony, every student went up to the stage and talked about what they learned from the program and how living with the host families had affected their perceptions of cultures different from their own. Some students said that they plan to put extra efforts into learning English after they return to Taiwan so that language will not be a barrier when similar opportunities arise in the future, and to become multilingual citizens of this global village.