On March 14, 2023, Claudia Petrescu, Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Grant Chapman, Associate Provost for International Programs, Chwen Sheu, Associate Dean of the College of Business Administration, faculty members, and students of the PreMBA Program, a total of 28 people, visited Tzu Chi University. This event was the first exchange program of faculty members and students between the two universities after the epidemic. In addition to visiting Tzu Chi University’s Medical Simulation Center and Tzu Chi Foundation’s Jing Si Hall, they also discussed future collaboration on undergraduate and master’s programs with Tzu Chi University.
To greet the guests who came from afar, Tzu Chi University president Ingrid Liu, Cindy Hsiao, dean of the Office of International Affairs, Guang-Huey Lin, dean of the International College, Lih-Ming Yin, chair of the Department of Public Health, Kuang-Chih Chen, chair of the Department of Medical Informatics, Lyndon Chu, director of the Bachelor’s Program in International Service Industry Management, and Professor Jye-Siung Fang gave their warmest welcome to the Kansas State University faculty members and students.
Tzu Chi University and Kansas State University became sister schools in June 2021. Founded in 1863, Kansas State University is a 161-year-old university. It is the fourth oldest school of the American University Alliance Big 12 Conference. It is a renowned research university in the United States. The visit and exchange program originated, because Professor Chwen Sheu visited Tzu Chi University in early 2021. He was deeply impressed by Tzu Chi University, especially the Silent Mentors, which moved him. Therefore, he with other faculty members, and students decided to come to Tzu Chi University for exchanges after the epidemic lockdown was lifted.
Tzu Chi University students Shi-Yuan Fang and Yi-Xuan Chen hosted the lunch gathering in fluent English. Together with students from International Service Industry Management led by Dr. Konstantin Weicht, an Austrian professor from the International College, they prepared a scrumptious vegetarian lunch for our guests. Professor Weicht also shared his experience of living in Taiwan. After ten years, there are still many new things to discover about Taiwan. It’s full of surprises (sometimes good, sometimes bad). Taiwan is very convenient. Living abroad in a strange country makes you appreciate and learn more about your home country. He said Taiwan is a beautiful country, mainly because of the Taiwanese people.
Dr. Weicht pulled different “Taiwan secrets” out of his bag, which he associated with his ten years in Taiwan, and shared them with our overseas guests. A Tzu Chi University flash drive symbolizes Taiwan’s technological advancement, bamboo chopsticks symbolize tasty Taiwanese foods, and the Taiwanese seal for official business makes every foreigner wonder. There was constant laughter on both sides! What else was justify in the bag? Red and white envelopes, the Taiwanese restaurant menu (tick boxes), and Taiwan’s famous instant noodles.
Claudia Petrescu, the Vice Provost of Kansas State University, said that she is very grateful for Tzu Chi University’s hospitality and kindness. Kansas State University is relatively large in scale and has more students than Tzu Chi University. Due to its long history, they have already developed a steady operating system. “I came to Tzu Chi University this time and saw something different,” she said. “I look forward to more collaborations and exchanges between the two universities for this kind of operational system. Knowing that Tzu Chi University has international students from nearly 27 countries, Vice Provost Petrescu recalled that she was also an international student who went to the United States to study. She also asked President Liu about her vision of Tzu Chi University in eight years. President Liu said that Tzu Chi University will continue to care for local students, expand international exchanges, recruit international students, and become a global university.
Professor Jye-Siung Fang, a former Tzu Chi University president, is also an alumnus of Kansas State University. Professor Fang said that he has always been very grateful for the scholarship provided by Kansas State University, which enabled him to complete his Ph.D. program at ease in the United States. After graduation, as long as he had the ability, he would not forget to give back. He remarked, “I am very happy to see so many faculty members and students from my alma mater at Tzu Chi University.”
Many faculty members and students of Kansas State University came to Hualien for the first time. When the students shared, they said that the most impressive thing was the Silent Mentor program. They felt it was something significant, and they felt moved. They learned a lot, hoping to take what they saw back to the United States and share it with more people. Professional MBA director Suzy Auten was deeply moved and put all of her cash into the bamboo bank to help those in need. The visit ended warmly, and everyone believed the two universities will have more fruitful collaboration results.