The Hsieh Nien Fan (literally thank-the-year banquet) of The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, is an opportunity to show it's appreciation to governmental officials, civic groups, experts and scholars for the assistance they provided to the International Business Community throughout the previous year. In a longstanding tradition, the ROC President and the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) are invited to address attendees. Taiwan government officials and members of the American Chambers (AmChams) may congregate in a casual atmosphere as a way of starting the year, on the right foot.
At the banquet last Thursday, President Ma stated he is working to add foreign talent to Taiwan's labor market and school systems. "Opening the door for international students and professors will raise the bar in Taiwan's educational system to meet a higher international standard," the president said.
Thomas Friedman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times. He recently wrote that, The way to prosperity in the 21st century is through education rather than natural resources. He cited Taiwan as an ideal model of the concept. Taiwan is his favorite country (other than his own). Friedman uses Taiwan as an example for highlighting a recent report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report concluded there was a significant negative link between the wealth countries gain from natural resources and the skills of their school population. Taiwan has developed its people's skills, which proves to be the most valuable and renewable resource in the world. Norway mines fish and oil from its oceans. According to China Post, Friedman wrote that, Taiwan has mined its 23 million citizen's talent, energy and intelligence. Taiwan has the fourth-largest financial reserve in the world.
Adding to that, President Ma said, Taiwan must also adopt a far-sighted immigration policy that will not only attract foreign talent, but encourage their desire to make long-term contributions to Taiwanese society.
Arild Tjeldvold of the National Chi Nan University in Puli is the only long-term Norwegian Professor living in Taiwan. Occasionally, Norwegian professors have seminars in Taiwan.
Many Christian missionaries have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of those in need in Taiwan. Several missionaries have received the Prize of Highest Honor from Presidents and Organizations of the Rep. of China. Norwegians who have been rewarded include Doctors Alfhild Gislefoss, Olav Bjoergaas and Kristoffer Fotland. Nurses with rewards are Bjarne Gislefoss and Kari Joten. The first foreigners to receive permanent Alien Resident Certificates (ARC) in The Rep. of China were the Norwegian couple Alfhild and Bjarne Gislefoss in 2002.This award signifies the country's high regard for their long-term devotion and good deeds towards the nation.
Taiwan is a good environment for students. According to Taiwan's Ministry of Education, only 14 Norwegians were studying at Universities in Taiwan last year. Other Norwegians were studying at colleges and high schools. A few joined in an exchange program with 4H or Rotary, living with Taiwanese host families for one year.
Some Norwegians are studying for a higher degree in Taiwan. Camilla Eide is the newest student on a 5-year program studying Chinese at Wenzao Ursuline College of Languages in Kaohsiung. Jan Erik Christensen is a PhD candidate in Chinese literature at National Chengchi University in Taipei. Miriam Garvi has a PhD degree in economy from Sweden. In Taiwan, she is performing post doc research on Norwegian missionary work.
Mariette C. Boe, Media Adviser of the Association of Norwegian Students Abroad (ANSA) told me: - ANSA currently has three members studying in Taiwan. Membership of ANSA is voluntary, so not all students are members, especially those who are just on exchange for one semester.
As Norway does not recognize the first year of a Taiwanese bachelor's degree as equivalent to Norwegian higher education, Norway doesn't give support for the first year of a bachelor's degree in Taiwan. That, together with language and cultural differences, is one of the many reasons Norwegians choose not to study in Taiwan. Since there are so few students studying in Taiwan, the Loan Fund (Lanekassen) has not prepared a list of approved programs. However, you can get support for all education equivalents to a Norwegian master or bachelor's level (i.e. not the first year of the bachelor). You do not get support for language education beyond one semester in Taiwan.
The most frequently topic of study in Taiwan is economics as either a full degree in Taiwan, or as an exchange from a Norwegian institution. Among other things, students at the Norwegian Business Schools (BI) and Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) go on exchange to Taiwan. National Chengchi University in Taipei is popular among exchange students.
ANSA is a member organization for all who study abroad. To become a member, receive affordable student insurance and participate in career day events, you must be a student at an educational institution abroad for more than three months. ANSA offers both half-year and one-year memberships.
My son will begin studying Chinese at National Chengchi University in Taipei in August of this year. You may follow his preparations and studies on his blog: http://larslearnschinese.blogspot.com.
Zhang Baorong, an associate professor at Xiamen University conducted a survey among senior high school students from three coastal provinces including 30 major high schools. Through interviews and questionnaires, 51.3 % of the respondents (more girls than boys) said they were "very willing" or "relatively willing" to study in Taiwan. They were attracted to Taiwan because of its proximity to their homes, an environment not as competitive as China's, good social order and limited requirements for foreign language proficiency.
Taiwan's policy of opening colleges to students from China has been in effect for one year. However, they may not apply for mobile phone numbers or credit cards. They are not allowed to open a bank account and cannot buy cars or motorbikes in Taiwan for six months.
Taiwan, The Rep. of China, is one the most democratic countries in Asia. Everyone has the freedom of speech, even the press. Students in Taiwan may enjoy Facebook and other social networks and even news agencies. Students in The Peoples Rep. of China do not have this freedom. Currently 42 websites are closed in China. Students in China may use weibos, a microblog similar to Twitter, but more than 210,000 posts have been deleted by Chinese authorities since mid-March, state media Xinhua News Agency said last week. Still, China has many more Norwegian students then Taiwan.
Approximately 5% of Taiwan students are foreigners. President Ma hopes the number of foreign students in Taiwan will increase to 10% by 2020. Norwegians are welcome and invited to study in Taiwan.
Mr.Geir Yeh Fotland - Taiwan National Correspondent NORWAY NEWS.com
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