The Education Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Los Angeles held the 2018 Joint Conference for Taiwanese Student Associations on September 29. It was attended by more than 50 presidents and office-bearers from the Taiwanese Students Associations (TSA) at 16 universities: Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, California State University Fullerton, California State University Long Beach, Claremont Graduate University, Pepperdine University,
San Diego State University, the University of Arizona, all five campuses of the University of California, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Southern California.
Rebecca Lan, Director of the Education Division welcomed the students, and personnel from the Consular Affairs Division, the Technology Division, the Taiwan Academy, the Technology Division, and the Immigration Division each spoke about their functions and introduced some useful resources for the students. The Education Division, for example, has produced a practical handbook for students outlining how to organize activities, and apply for related subsidies and scholarships; and important studying abroad safety and health tips, especially useful in this era when natural disasters, internet and telephone fraud, and even shootings seem rampant.
The conference is sponsored by the Ministry of Education each year, to give the attendees a platform to exchange ideas and experiences about how to run their student associations, and render better service to their members. Everyone enthusiastically talked about the operation of their associations, and different activities they plan to organize to enhance relations among Taiwanese students; promote Taiwanese culture, and help each other adapt to American culture and life.
Career Taiwan USA Association, was invited to speak in the afternoon. This is a volunteer group that works to help Taiwanese students find jobs and set down root in the USA. It offers mentoring programs and seminars on applying for jobs, US visa regulations, and how to enhance job-seeking skills. It also collaborates with major successful businesses in Southern California—such as Solar Max, Diamond Wipe, Taboola, and Panda Express—and organizes entrepreneurship field trips to help Taiwanese students find internship opportunities. They also sponsor Taiwanese Student Associations to hold similar events and activities on campuses.
Ning Ning Yu, vice president of Taboola (a leading discovery platform that recommends articles, videos, products and apps to more than one billion users every month), and Lien Chen, Membership Director of the Taiwanese American Professionals, each gave a keynote speech and inspired students with details of their successful career and life in the US. Ning Ning Yu began by playing a song (“Granted” by Josh Groban) to inspire students to chase their dreams and then delivered a speech called “Access, Prepare, and Go”. She encouraged the students to participate in job fairs, look for internships as soon as possible, and enhance key hard and soft skills, including knowledge, technology, passion, perseverance, integrity, communication, friendship, and being helpful. She also pointed out the importance of being curious about everything and urged them to read more international news every day, broadening their vision, and to engage in networking.
The second keynote speaker Lien Chen spoke about “Cross Cultural Communication”. She compared Taiwan and USA using Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory and said that the biggest differences between the two countries are individuality (much stronger in the US), and long term orientation (much stronger in Taiwan). She described Taiwan as being a collectivist society with a more hierarchical culture, while the US stresses individualism. Taiwan is a society where people attempt to make life predictable and controllable, while the US is one where people are more relaxed, and open or inclusive - although people in Taiwan are renowned for their openhearted hospitality. Her presentation gave students a lot to think about and reflect on regarding how to adapt themselves to American society and how to build successful cross cultural communication.
All of the participants benefited a lot from the conference and the many ideas on how to pave the way for a successful future career and life.