Taiwanese students visit NIU camp to experience American culture


By Rhea Riley

26 Taiwanese students spent three weeks at NIU to experience the 2014 American Summer Education Camp and gain a better understanding of American culture.

The camp started when Pi-Sui Hsu, associate professor in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, began conducting research on international education. Hsu was contacted by Taiwan’s National University of Tainan affiliated primary school, to ask if NIU would host their students.

“We offer a pretty exciting camp, its really encouraged people and people are really excited by what we have been able to do,” said Terry Borg, director of External and Global Programs.

The 26 students, ranging from 9 to 12 years old, arrived at O’Hare International Airport on June 26.

Each summer workshop also had local DeKalb children in attendance, which allowed the Taiwanese students to learn and interact from their American peers.

“I think these programs, of this type, provide a real richness and experience to the DeKalb area youth,” Borg said. “It really makes the world much smaller, in a sense that it brings students of ages [alike], from around the world, for our youth to learn from.”

During their stay, the students were exposed to the DeKalb community and Illinois attractions. They had planned visits to Chicago to tour the Magnificent Mile, as well as spending the day at Six Flags Great America. They also spent Independence Day celebrating with a picnic at Hopkins Park.

Each night, the students were tutored by several NIU undergraduate students. The NIU students, all education majors, assisted the Taiwanese students in practicing their English language skills by going over the days events and their feelings over the experience they had.

“It’s important for the students from the college of education to have the opportunity to work with students from other countries and groups of students that include both native and international students,” said Lisa Freeman, executive vice president and provost. “They develop the skills that come from working with children that start out with different experiences and responding to students to that see the world from different eyes.”

The camp held its closing ceremony Wednesday, where students received certificates for their stay. There were about 60 attendees at the ceremony, including both President Doug Baker and Freeman. The ceremony was streamed back to Taiwan, so the students’ family member could watch.

“Certainly, next year, we would like to see something like this and more of it,” said Paul Baker, director of the Office of College Relations. “I’d like to see some opportunities where we can send some of our faculty and students so they can work over there.”