On May 25, the Ministry of Education held a formal celebration of the Taiwan Hostfamily Program’s 10th Anniversary. Envoys from the Indonesia Economic and Trade Office to Taipei, and representatives from the participating universities and colleges attended this happy occasion.
Dr. Mon-Chi Lio, Deputy Minister of Education, explained in his opening remarks that the Ministry has been actively promoting programs to foster educational exchanges between Taiwan and other countries, and encouraging overseas students to study in Taiwan, and the number of overseas students in the institutions of higher education in Taiwan has been increasing each year: the total number almost tripled from 45,413 in 2010, to 126,997 last year.
Deputy Minister Lio further explained that the Ministry cares very much about the quality of the lives of the overseas students in Taiwan. Since 2010, the Taiwan Hostfamily Program has been launched to help to make these students feel at home. Ten years later, thirty-one colleges and universities now support this program, which includes training for the families, cultural experience activities, and activities to match students with suitable host families, and so far, 4,177 families have been trained, and 5,101 overseas students from 102 countries and regions have been hosted by 2,884 families.
The warm and friendly interactions that overseas students enjoy with their host families also help them to better understand Taiwan’s unique and diverse culture. At the same time, by its very nature, the program helps to broaden the global outlook of the members of the participating host families, and it helps to create a multi-lingual environment, both of which contribute to local internationalization.
Ms. Tao-Yuan Hsia, from one of the host families, and Gabriela (Gaby) Travisany, a student from Nicaragua who was hosted by Ms. Hsia’s family, generously shared their experience of blending into each other’s lives. They often visited some of Taiwan’s many scenic spots and tasted local specialties together. Gaby also introduced Nicaraguan culture and traditions to the school that Ms. Hsia’s daughter attends. Ms. Hsia and Gaby present a perfect example of cross-cultural exchange.
Ms. Hui-Ping Chu, another host family member, first met Oyuntuul Damba, a Mongolian student, two years ago. Ms. Damba and Ms. Chu often cooked and enjoyed authentic Mongolian food together in Ms. Chu’s home and shared details of each other’s food culture. On Mother’s Day, Ms. Damba gave Ms. Chu a handwritten card expressing her gratitude to Ms. Chu for looking after her just as if she were Ms. Chu’s own daughter.
These are just two examples of the many wonderful relationships that have developed between the overseas students and local families participating in the Taiwan Hostfamily Program.
Deputy Minister Lio also presented certificates of appreciation to representatives of ten host families, to express public gratitude to these families for their contribution to and support for the program. And he expressed the Ministry’s hope that more universities, colleges, families, and overseas students will get involved in this program in the future. Twelve students – from Burkina Faso, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Spain, and Vietnam – then sang “Thank you for your love” in Taiwanese as an expression of their heartfelt appreciation to their host families and to Taiwan.
The Taiwan Hostfamily Program is helping Taiwan reach out and open its doors to students from all around the world. The Ministry hopes this program will continue to grow and prosper, and create a welcoming environment in Taiwan.