First In-Person Gathering with MOE Scholarship Students in Toronto since Pre-pandemic Times
Most of the MOE-funded students in Eastern Canada are studying in Toronto and Montreal and the University of Toronto has the highest number of those in Toronto. On July 10, the Education Division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada travelled to Toronto to meet with some of the Taiwanese students who are recipients of scholarships from the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. Executive Director Tracy Lang joined the students over supper, hoping to get a greater understanding of their situations, both on campus and off.
Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and it has the largest economy. The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Canada was discovered in Toronto last January, and since then, Ontario has been one of the two provinces with the highest number of confirmed cases in the country, and it became the most severely affected province, setting an unwelcome highest record: having 4,816 new cases in a single day on April 16. In response, the province implemented a stringent Stay-At-Home order. During this time, the Education Division sent out masks to the Taiwanese students and kept in close contact with them, to provide them with assistance with everyday life matters when needed.
The government response led to a slowing down of the spread of the coronavirus and then a gradual easing of restrictions in June. Restaurants in Ontario have reopened for outdoor dining but they still have limited capacity to host indoor gatherings, and so the supper get-together was held at the Culture Centre of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Toronto. Everyone had to wear a mask and practice social distancing but it was wonderful to satisfy long cravings for a Taiwanese-style boxed meal and enjoy traditional Taiwanese popcorn chicken, fried cuttlefish balls and bubble tea together!
All the students at the gathering happened to be studying on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto but this was the first time they’ve met each other. It was also their first face-to-face meeting with any other Taiwanese students since the outbreak of the COVID-19 when the University of Toronto switched to virtual learning, although one of the students is doing specialized research on the pathology of ALS -Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and she still had to go to the lab.
Everyone had a great time and they all hope that there won’t be any need to wear masks the next time they get together and they can enjoy meeting face-to-face, actually seeing each other’s faces.