Ali Al Mubarak – Mechanical Engineering Major
After a long spring semester, I have the chance to relax for a bit to prepare for my trip to Taiwan for two months. The first month of this trip I was able to experience a lot of new things. As an engineering major, I don’t often get to practice my business or communication skill building relationships between countries. In our business history class, I got a chance to learn a lot about Asian culture and business practices around here. I personally don’t read history about asian countries, in this class I was able to learn a lot. Also I got the chance to learn Chinese which is quite a challenging language to learn. At the same time while taking those two courses, we were able to take some tours around Taiwan. I saw a lot around the island from traveling and learned more about Taiwanese history. Throughout our travels, we meet a few CEO’s of businesses and that helped me a lot to improve my public speaking. The experience about my internship is still to come…
Amy Bennett – Accounting Major
Amy Bennett’s Experience at Pemay
At first, when I heard about this program, the language portion was the most important to me. Mandarin is my favorite subject and, if possible, I am interested in living and working in Taiwan or greater Asia. I was putting a lot of emphasis into learning Mandarin before I joined this program and was eager for another chance to improve my speaking skills. I was surprised, however, when I realized how important other subjects became over the three weeks.
Of course, it is extremely important to understand Taiwan’s history but studying the history and culture while living within the society really changed the impact for me. Before joining the program, I had already studied the history of Taiwan and China but this time, I could actually experience the outcomes rather than learning about the history in the vacuum of my home culture. Therefore, the East Asian Business class was invaluable to my understanding of Taiwan’s place in the world and the reasons why people interact with each other the way they do here.
Lastly, the field trips provided great insight into various political and governmental institutions. Everyone says to avoid talking politics here because the subject is so complicated and can be quite touchy—understandably. So getting a little insight into political workings and talking about some of the issues—not just the China/Taiwan issue—that currently plague Taiwan (the general brain drain, the aging population, etc.) allowed a view of Taiwan that I had never gotten before.
What has changed about me:
I am gaining more confidence in talking to Taiwanese professionals, which is much different than before because I had only ever communicated with students and teachers. I have a better understanding of Taiwan’s business and governmental world and I already have more experience working within that world. I think before this program, I felt like there was no
On a more personal level, I have always been sort of led around Taiwan by people who live here. These last three weeks, though, I have prepared myself for living on my own and being more independent, which I think has changed me in a big way. Moving into the next part of the summer, I am surprised that I am not more nervous about being separated my American classmates. I’m truly looking forward to what’s to come.
Jack Briggs – Political Science Major
Jack’s Experience at
Before I had arrived in Taiwan in the June of 2018 I had never stepped foot outside the United States. My interest in Asia started in the beginning of the second semester of my Freshman year, only months before I had even heard about the Asia Global Biztech Program. Combined with this lack of experience and being the youngest in the group I was eager to embark on not just an adventure in Taiwan, but a challenge. That’s come to be the case and I have found myself learning more and doing more here than I could back home. It’s one thing to read about US-Asia Pacific relations and it’s another to be on the ground level of those relations. My time interning at the Taiwan-USA Industrial Cooperation Promotion Office (TUSA) is a great example of this. TUSA is a special program of the Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Industrial Development Bureau under the auspices of Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Our office promotes industrial cooperation between the United States and Taiwan in critical areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, precision machinery, green energy, biotechnology, and information communication technologies. In many ways TUSA serves a vital connection between some of my main interests; emerging technologies, international trade, and diplomacy. When I read an article now about US-Taiwan or US-China-Taiwan relations I have some experience that I can draw on to understand competing theories.
Nick Giegerich – Computer Science Major
Nick’s Experience at ITRI
It was a strange feeling when I first arrived at my internship location. Mainly because for the last month I was surrounded by new and old friends and had built a comfort level around that. When I arrived at ITRI I didn’t know a single person and went from having so many people to talk to and hang out with too being on my own. I had no idea how many people at ITRI were in the same position as me and it didn’t take long to meet great people and forge friendships. Coming from Providence University and already having spent a month in Taiwan gave me a great head start to working in Taiwan. I was already comfortable with the weather, culture, and interacting with the people. I was worried going into my first day of work that I wasn’t qualified enough to be working at such a large institute. After meeting with my mentor and going over what I would be working on I was relieved to find out I had the perfect amount of experience to work on the project he had assigned to me. Upon completing my project at ITRI I was able to dive into topics of computer science that I had never touched and it helped me broaden my skill set. The internship along with the class at Providence has given me so much more than I could ever ask for and I am beyond grateful to be able to participate in such an amazing program.
Nick’s Taichung Experience
My trip to Taiwan so far has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and by the end of this month I believe that’ll be the greatest experience of my life. I have been to quite a few countries in my life but I have never been fully immersed into a countries culture such as I have here. When first arriving to Taiwan I of course had the typical “culture shock” of being in a new country and learning about the everyday differences between the United States and Taiwan. Typically when people travel abroad this is about as far as they will get when experiencing another country. We were fortunate enough to go much deeper than most people with our experience of Taiwan. The Project Management course, Chinese lessons, and field trips have given us chance to go much deeper into the rich history that is Southeast Asia. For me personally I have gained so much knowledge about Asia’s role in not only North America but the entire world. Coming from interest that mostly lie within the tech world I rarely touch on the business or political side of things so having the chance to join this program has opened my eyes to the world. I never thought I could take away as much I did from Jack’s class in only three weeks. The format of the class being more of a discussion fosters a great learning environment and allows people to discuss topics that pertain to today’s issues or that you may be passionate about. The Chinese course was priceless, giving us an amazing introduction to this very complex language. The teacher was one of the most patient instructors I’ve ever experienced and really instilled the basics of Chinese into me. Being able to have structured field trips throughout the trip was priceless. We were able to talk about business, tech, and political industries in class and then actually visit them. Any class can talk all semester about companies but actually being able to visit the facility and talk to the people who work there is something else.
Mixing all of these things together makes for an unforgettable experience in itself, but then there is the interactions we’ve experienced with the local people. This is what I believe makes an experience something to remember. I have never been to a country where I have felt so welcome. The people who live here are the nicest and most welcoming humans I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They will go out of their way to help a completely lost foreigner who doesn’t speak their language; that has to be the greatest thing I will take away from this trip. It doesn’t matter who you are, what language you speak, or the color of your skin we are all one race. I truly believe the Taiwanese people embrace this concept and through my experience here I have been able to forge an everlasting bond with people from the cohort and from Taiwan. As I continue here in Taiwan I hope to meet more unforgettable people and build lasting memories.
Amy Krutz – International Relations Major
Amy Krutz’s Experience at OiKID
Studying in Taiwan through the Asia Biztech program is something of a collection of happy happenstances for me. Not only did it give me an opportunity to practice and grow my Mandarin language skills, but it also placed me in a foreign culture’s business setting which was something of a goal of mine. On a more personal note, coming to Taiwan gave me an opportunity to visit my family. My grandmother is from Chaiyi, Taiwan and I hadn’t seen her family in over five years.
My investment in this program grew and grew over the course of the first month. Most fascinating to me was listening to Professor Marr connect pieces of information and history to weave a rich tapestry that we could set current events against. Following the news for me up to that point had been a series of keeping up with the latest headlines and trying to look into future implications, neglecting in the process the backdrop that on which those events were happening. One of my most valuable take-aways was realizing that, though the American future-oriented mindset has its value and is important, important too is looking back to understand where we came from.
This was hammered home through talking with officials, businesspeople, and peers on our visits with various influential organizations throughout Taiwan. Pieces of history or long-standing traditions were built into the fabric of their thought processes and practices. Now that I knew to look for them, I could see them almost everywhere.
Finally, I cannot emphasize enough the impact our partnership with Providence University had on my experience. We were assigned two international friendship buddies who were absolutely integral in adjusting to, learning about, and figuring out how to operate in Taiwan’s rich culture. I was so thrilled to be able to ask about the little ins and outs of a new culture through the eyes of a peer. While I learned Mandarin vocabulary and sentence structure in class, I learned how to speak on the streets with our buddies. While we learned about the overarching political and historical themes in class, I learned about how those themes affected the Taiwanese on an everyday basis from talking to our buddies and their friends.
I am so excited to apply the new concepts I have learned throughout the course of this first month in my internship with OiKID. More than that, I am thrilled to say that I not only have a greater understanding of the workings of the world, but new friends who are just as eager to keep learning and growing with me.
Rhett Suciu – Master of Business Administration
The international business class was a really great experience. I learned a great deal about the history of Taiwan, China, and other Asian countries. Learning the basic knowledge and history was key to diving deeper into the past issues and why they affect relationships today. The fact that the knowledge is coming from someone who has spent a great deal of their life in Asia made the depth of the information much greater and more thoughtful. When we finally began to deal with the modern issues, all of the previous classes helped us understand where the issues were coming from. It also granted us a different perspective to look at issues, which is really important for bringing information back the United States. We not only learned about what issues exist and why, but better yet how to begin solving them.
The Chinese class was a real joy and very informative. Our teacher helped us to learn so many words in such a short time. Chinese is extremely difficult, so this was pretty impressive. She was also completely open to stopping class and helping someone learn a word, or about a topic other than what we were learning. The class was also a conversation which was very refreshing. We were teaching her and Mafana words and phrases in English, as they were teaching us Chinese.
I believe that the out of class experiences are just as important as the in class work. To understand this culture and country, you need to get out there and live it. Making mistakes, getting lost, trying to talk to people in Chinese, and many more things are part of what working in other countries is going to be like. The other thing that you will see as you make those mistakes, is that most people here are more than happy to help you and genuinely seem to enjoy that you’re trying to figure out Taiwan. Overall your integration into Taiwan isn’t complete without diving into the culture of Taiwan, and learning about its people.
Rhett’s Experience at Nexcom
Because we were able to fit a significant amount of information and experiences into the short three weeks, I feel prepared for the internship. I believe that there will be a huge amount of new lessons that I must learn, but I’m confident that I can handle it with the preparation I’ve received. I look forward to the challenges and adventures that this program and country have to offer.
Lucas Swope – International Business Major
Lucas’s Experience at Nexcom
This was the first time Nexcom had taken on international interns. So, in addition to the vast amount of industrial robotics research performed, we were also piloting a new consulting program for the expansion of NexCOBOT into American education markets. Our objective was to secure Nexcom as the leading robotic education service and resource provider in America. Our target to achieve this was through a closer partnership with Boise State University and a flipping of Nexcom’s current market approach to focus more on the end-user needs of their products and services. We became a valuable resource to Nexcom, because we could approach things from a different mindset, a “Western Mindset”.
Holding this “Western Mindset” in the East, we could approach market issues Nexcom faced, in ways they had never thought of previously. We were able to transcend the communication and social barriers that blocked our colleagues and Taiwanese predecessors. We were given the liberty to explore; encouraged by our mentor, we ran with and developed ideas that challenged eastern business logic. It was this exploration of differing ideas, that we realized the importance of international business exchanges. We gave Nexcom our Western view and we received a better understanding of Eastern business culture, customs, and language. The reciprocity of this relationship was immensely beneficial and constructive for all those involved.
I was able to take-away a contemporary perspective of an entire industry segment, prior to, I had absolutely no knowledge or exposure of. This internship with Nexcom gave me the exposure of corporate operations, idea generation, project development, and on the job training at a corporate level. I feel as though Asia BizTech gave me the skills and knowledge to enter confidently into the Business and Technology industry as a successful first-year worker. My great takeaway from BizTech, was the chance of a life time to deliver a business consulting plan to the CEO of a multinational company. This experience gave me a lift in my confidence to perform under the pressure of a foreign environment and adapt to a different culture of business.
I was able to give an incredible amount of time this summer to develop and learn as much as I could about Nexcom and the business/political environment of Taiwan. I could give Nexcom a fresh perspective on American markets and a second opinion on Asian business culture. I will without a doubt take the transferable business skills I learned in Taiwan forward with me as I progress through my career. The experience being in Taiwan was unique, because it brought me to the forefront of the emerging Business and Technology Sector. Without being in the epicenter of this sector, my experience wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful as it was. I was able to make critical connections to people that could propel my career forward once I graduate from Boise State.
Savannah Willits – Urban Studies and Community Development
Overall, my main take away from this experience is the importance of innovation. After living in Taichung—a city with more than two million people—and being briefed by different Taiwanese organizations, such as ATI and TaiwanThinktank, it’s clear that innovation is the key to a thriving and functioning society. Specifically, new ideas and creativity lead to a better quality of life through the practice of efficiency and resourcefulness. Whether it’s having a metro card that works for all public transportation and functions as a studentID and dorm key or an electric scooter, innovation conserves our time and resources. When living in a city with a multi-million population, innovation is also way of life in order to accommodate such a massive population. As the size of cities is expected to increase, human ingenuity will only become more important and central to living.
On a grander scale, I believe innovation—whether technological, social, or anything in between—creates an influential society that is destined to lead the rest of world. Power and domination has been in the favor of innovative entities throughout history. In order to remain relevant on the world stage and to continue to succeed in all areas of life, America must innovate and continue to be at the forefront of advancing technology. In comparison, in order to exert power and influence, Taiwan must not only innovate, but also keep their secrets from swimming to the mainland, despite the difficulty Chinese subsidies and strategic forms of bribery. Innovation is a critical way to increase hard and soft power, for an innovative country provides a model for the rest of the world.
If new ideas shape the world, how do we cultivate a culture of innovation? Similarly, how does one become an entrepreneur? The traits of an entrepreneur are also the traits of people who are willing to embrace living in a foreign country: they are willing to learn and make mistakes, to have patience, and to have courage to try. Personally, I struggle with all of these concepts as a perfectionist. The fear of failure and imperfection stops ingenuity before it even begins. Accepting that life will have unforeseen obstacles and having courage to face the unknown is central to cultivating new ideas and experiences. For the emphasis is placed upon learning and growth, instead of stagnation of perfection. Accepting the risk of failure is a healthy and necessary endeavor and is a critical lesson for those who value innovation. Due to this lesson of innovation, I strive to be more tolerant and courageous in the face of failure and imperfection. Opportunities are abundant when one is willing to try—even if it is trying tofu which smells like death at a night market.