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Central Police University Delegation from Taiwan’s Study Visit to the University of Houston-Downtown

The Education Division & the 21 students from Taiwan's Central Police University ready for the Bayou Connection Program at UHD

On January 8, 2024, the Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston (TECO in Houston) hosted a welcome dinner for a delegation of 21 students from Taiwan's Central Police University (CPU) who were in Houston to participate in the Bayou Connection Program at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). The attendees at the welcome dinner included Dr. Deborah Bordelon, UHD Senior Vice President; Jay Zambrano, Vice President for International Relations; Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, Dean of the College of Public Service; Dr. Kevin Buckler, Department Chair of Criminal Justice and Social Work; Dr. Wang Hsiao-Ming, Bayou Connection Program Host; Dr. Judith Harris, Bayou Connection Program Co-host; and Jonathan Lui, Houston Police Department (HPD) North Division Chief among other criminal justice educators.
CPU has organized study tours to the United States for its cadets since 2005, and in the past 19 years, more than 400 students from CPU have participated in short-term research programs at UHD. Among them, thirteen have successfully obtained master's degrees, and all have broadened their horizons through their study abroad experiences.
The Bayou Connection program, initiated in 2002 by Dr. Wang Hsiao-Ming of the UHD Criminal Justice department, is designed to enhance academic exchanges between the United States and Taiwan. The program's objective is to offer aspiring law enforcement professionals studying in Taiwan firsthand experiences learning about the American justice system. UHD plays a pivotal in designing the English curriculum for the program, and in coordinating visits to various criminal justice institutions in the Greater Houston area for the CPU students. The students visit police stations, a training academy, courts, prisons, and fire departments.. The Bayou Connection program has inspired reciprocal exchanges, and many groups of students from the U.S. visit Taiwan for overseas study.
Houston and Taiwan have enjoyed meaningful, practical law enforcement and criminal justice related exchanges for a long time. In an effort to foster positive interactions between Houston police officers and people from Taiwan in the local community and to enhance the safety of Taiwanese students and tourists in the United States, the Ministry of Education approved funding support for the Survival Mandarin program in July 2018. The program offers Mandarin courses for police officers in the greater Houston area, and the three best performing officers are awarded one-week scholarships to study Mandarin in Taiwan. 
Senior members of the HPD added a personal touch to the students’ time in Houston. Chief Finner and Executive Assistant Chief Ban Tien met with the CPU delegation to talk about their own experiences in law enforcement and hear from the cadets.
This year's delegation comprised students from various departments at CPU: Administration Police, Law, Criminal Investigation, Public Security, Crime Prevention and Corrections, Foreign Affairs Police, Border Police, Administrative Management, Maritime Police, and Fire Science. Jeng Yu-Huan, a student in the Department of Border Police at CPU, said, "This program offers us a variety of courses that introduce theories and operations of policing in America, helping us to compare it with policing in Taiwan and comprehend the similarities and differences between them. There are also many field courses that give us opportunities to witness the actual operations of law enforcement agencies, which I consider precious learning experiences." Lan Yi-Tsen, a student from the Department of Police Administration, said, "We have visited the jail, the academy, the port, and more. We can learn from the advantages and improve upon the disadvantages. This trip might bring about a significant change in my mindset. While it may not make an immediate difference, it could sow a seed in our hearts. Someday, when we have the chance to take action, the experience may inspire new thoughts and perspectives."
The Bayou Connection Program is a testament to the strong ties between the City of Houston and Taiwan and it will continue to offer aspiring law enforcement professionals studying in Taiwan opportunities to witness the American justice system firsthand.