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National Central University and Oberlin College in Ohio Sign Memorandum of Intent for the Taiwan Huayu BEST Program

From left, Representative Hsiao Bi-khim, Prof. David Kamitsuka, Director General Johnson Chiang, and Prof. Emer O'Dwyer

A memorandum of intent (MOI) between Oberlin College in Ohio and National Central University to become Taiwan Huayu BEST Program partner universities was signed on April 21, 2022. The two universities had agreed at the beginning of this year, to work together to further enhance Oberlin College’s Mandarin Chinese language instruction, and the Education Division at the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office (TECO) in Chicago arranged several online work meetings to assist the universities discuss and plan the details. 

The Taiwan Huayu BEST Program is an umbrella program launched by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education in 2021, to help meet the global demand to learn Chinese and to promote Taiwan’s quality Chinese language education. It sets up language education partnerships between outstanding universities in Taiwan and overseas. Huayu is one of several terms meaning “Mandarin Chinese” and the word BEST is an acronym that stands for Bilingual Exchanges of Selected Talent.

Benefits for the overseas partner university include having access to highly trained teachers & teaching assistants from Taiwan; scholarships for their students to improve their Mandarin Chinese proficiency in Taiwan; access to a wide variety of learning resources, including TOCFL—Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language—language proficiency testing. The scholarship students visiting the Taiwan partner university will also spend some time helping local teachers as they teach English in nearby elementary and secondary schools, and interacting with the young students. 

The MOI between the two universities was signed by Professor David Kamitsuka, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College, and Professor Lin Chih-Kuang, Director of the Office of Teaching Centers at National Central University. Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s Representative in the United States, stationed at the Taipei Economic & Cultural Representative Office in the United States and an outstanding alumnus of Oberlin College, Johnson Chiang, Director General of TECO in Chicago, Deputy Director General Justin Lee, Daniel Hong, Director of the Information Division, and John Lin, Director of the Education Division, Prof. Emer O'Dwyer, Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Oberlin College, Mr. Gavin Tritt, Shansi Executive Director of Oberlin Shansi, and Prof. Hsiu-Chuang Deppman, Professor of Chinese & Cinema Studies at Oberlin College, all attended the signing in person. 

Prof. Kamitsuka thanked the Ministry of Education for its support of the cooperation between Oberlin College and National Central University, and for introducing the Taiwan Huayu BEST Program. He mentioned that the college is planning to offer Mandarin courses for members of the general community as well as for its students. 

Representative Hsiao congratulated the two universities on their initial achievements after several months of concerted effort and said that she looks forward to more in-depth cooperation between Taiwan and the United States in academic and research fields. During her visit to her alma mater, Representative Hsiao spoke with Dr. Carmen Twillie Ambar, president of Oberlin College, and senior management officials, and discussed Taiwan–US relations topics with faculty members and students.