The Taiwan Hostfamily Program’s Automated Student-Host Matching System：Helping overseas students experience the warmth and enthusiasm of Taiwan
The Ministry of Education is committed to the internationalization of higher education, and is delighted that the number of overseas students in Taiwan reached 117,970 in 2017. This total includes a significant increase of 5,681 in the number of students from Australia, New Zealand, and countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia which are a focus of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy educational initiatives.
The Ministry cares very much about the quality of the lives of overseas students in Taiwan. For this reason it established the Taiwan Hostfamily program, now in its tenth year, to help build important bridges between Taiwan and these students.
The Taiwan Hostfamily program has been refined over the past nine years and the number of participating host families and overseas students is continuing to grow. Thirty colleges and universities now actively support this program, and so far 4,816 overseas students and 2,723 households have participated.
Various training courses and cultural experience activities help the overseas students and host families to better understand each other's country and culture, and enhance the homestay experience for everyone involved. The program tries to match each participating student with a suitable host family. For example, a student who loves mountains or music might like to be matched with a homestay family in a mountain area or that has a strong involvement with local music.
A new online training system and automated student-host matching system for the Taiwan Hostfamily program were officially launched on January 1, 2019. The online training makes training more easily available to more host families, and the student-host matching system offers both students and host families an avenue to suggest activities that can be arranged if a host family or student indicates that they would like to participate.
The Taiwanese host families do their utmost to make the students feel at home. For example, when Ms. Lee Shi-wei, a homestay host from Miaoli, welcomes overseas students into her home, she hopes to help them appreciate the beauty of Taiwan, and more importantly, experience the friendliness of its people. So she felt very moved when she heard her French homestay student say that his host family made him feel like he was one of the family.
The warmth and good feelings that the students experience create wonderful memories for them. For example, Quy Anh, a Vietnamese student studying at Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, feels that Taiwan has now become her second home. She says that her host family treated her just like a family member, not simply as a guest. During the Ching Ming Festival, when families visit and tidy up their family tombs, her host family invited her to help them, giving her a deep understanding of the festival.
As the program approaches its 10th anniversary, it is hoped that even more Taiwanese families, overseas students, and colleges and universities will take part in the program.
Taiwan Hostfamily Program: https://www.hostfamily.org.tw/en
Suggest activities using the online system: https://www.hostfamily.org.tw/en/node/how