Roberts Fellows welcomed students and faculty from Taiwan’s Ming Chuan University with a reception in the Alumni Lounge last week that included icebreakers, a pizza party, a scavenger hunt and an ice cream social.
The Roberts Fellowship is a selective undergraduate leadership fellowship in its 14th year. In addition to attending weekly classes and spearheading community service projects, each class of Roberts Fellows travels abroad to Asia for a trip that includes a visit to Ming Chuan.
Last week’s reception reunited some Roberts Fellows with Taiwanese friends who welcomed them to Taiwan during their travels abroad this May.
“Before I even got home, I had Facebook requests from people that we had met there,” said accounting senior Colin Ohl, a Roberts Fellow from the 13th class who traveled to Asia earlier this year. “The excitement has been building from the students posting ‘I got my plane ticket and flight information.’ We’ve definitely been in touch.”
During their stay, Ming Chuan juniors from the Department of Applied English will complete two courses, one in American culture and another in collected American Literature.
“It’s a very good chance for us to take English as a target language and really blend into this environment,” said Ming Chuan junior Brian Lee.
Ming Chuan students and faculty will also be involved in Mandarin Chinese and Chinese Literature classes which will be open to members of the SVSU community to attend.
Two of the faculty members accompanying the Ming Chuan University students are Roberts Fellows alumni now living in Taipei.
“I think that is about as good of evidence as there is that ties have been very strong,” said Andrew Swihart, professor of psychology and instructor of Roberts Fellows courses.
SVSU and MCU alumnus Natalie Pretzer-Lin of the fifth class of the Roberts Fellows is one of those faculty members who traveled with the students.
“I know they are very excited about living on an American campus and enjoying the quality of the dorms we have here,” she said.
The 43 Taiwanese guests will reside in SVSU’s student housing until the end of July.
“Not many of them have travelled abroad, and since they’ve been here, they are very impressed with how big our campus is, how beautiful our campus is, and how the classrooms are all up to date,” Pretzer-Lin said.
“I feel the environment is very comfortable and close to nature. It makes people feel relaxed,” said MCU’s Bonnie Wu. “We also feel excited about the swimming pool and fitness center.”
SVSU alumnus Deborah Kraklow of the fourth Roberts Fellows class is a full-time professor at MCU. She organized off-campus activities each Saturday in July, including trips to the Detroit Institute of Art, a Detroit Tigers game, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Mackinac Island and Frankenmuth.
Kraklow says when Roberts Fellows and MCU students visit each other’s campus, it fosters “a feeling of connection when they come to a new country.”
“They feel like there is somebody that they know, and it lets them reciprocate.”