International Students at Providence University 靜宜大學
Sharon Anderson Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.
Sharon Anderson, having finished putting her daughter through university and having enjoyed a successful career in the Conference Management Industry decided the time was right to focus on getting a business degree. She is preparing to graduate from the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore Maryland and attended Providence University as an exchange during the Fall ’08 semester. Providence offered Ms. Anderson a host of opportunities. As she prepared to return to the States she discussed her experiences with a tealit.com staff writer.
What motivated you to choose Providence University?
“Being able to learn Chinese will be important. Especially, as a person working in the business environment. I felt that because I would be able to take business classes in English and have the opportunity to learn Chinese that this would be a good opportunity to have the best of both worlds.”
What makes the programs at Providence unique?
“Providence – the international office and their exchange program is one of the best. I think the staff goes out of its way to try to work with the students, to help the students learn as much as possible. I think what is the greatest asset is their personnel, the people: Victor, the director; Linda, Kelly, Tiffany, Wayne…all of them. That is the thing you come to value is the personal touch of them. That is to me the key. Anybody can establish rules and a program and how to carry it out, but the way its carried out is determined by the people, and I think they are what’s makes the difference.”
Describe the classes at Providence.
“The Chinese learning center works to meet the student where the student is at. I enjoyed learning Chinese and am encouraged to continue back in my own country.”
“You enjoy the programs. I had the opportunity to learn Chinese and take [business] classes in English. This is a benefit to me because its not a whole semester wasted of ‘Ok, well…I just came here to learn Chinese but then I’m not able to take classes.’”
In describing what part of the program struck her the most Ms. Anderson focused on the Strategic Management Seminar.
“We were able to actually partner and work with a Taiwanese business. What our assignment was – the business is interested in breaking into various international markets and because I was from the U.S. and my classmates they were from the Philippines those were the two markets that we chose to look at. We did analysis of what the market already held in the U.S. and in the Philippines and then offered some kind of strategies of what would be a good way for the company to enter into the U.S. and Philippine market. We were actually able to meet and do site visits of the company and see the product that they produce. And so – it’s real world experience.”
What about the campus & the people?
“I was able to meet so many people. The one thing I think I will remember the most is how open and giving the people were. When my friend from America came one of the student workers from the Office of International Affairs - she invited us to her home for the weekend. And her parents welcomed us.”
“They took us in for the weekend. They took us to a seafood brunch so we would have the experience of the seafood. It was actually 8 of us: Ms. Linda actually drove us to Kaohsiung and then Pearl’s roommate and then some of the other students from the International Office actually came. We were actually able to spend the whole weekend together. It was almost like our own little family and we were in our own little world.”
“The way that people have extended themselves at Providence was so unexpected. You know, you hope to make friends but, they really went above and beyond.”
Providence University's Logo
Among the reasons for choosing Taiwan as her overseas study destination Ms. Anderson mentioned the opportunity to learn about the history of Chinese culture. The programs at Providence also complemented this.
“One of the things about Providence’s international program is that they offer a cultural learning class. We had the opportunity to learn about the traditional Chinese Wedding. Also about Chinese Opera, calligraphy, Chinese painting. They took us on several trips. I had the opportunity to actually paint, actually write calligraphy. So, and these are some lasting impressions…and it has more meaning for me because I was actually a part of the culture and had the opportunity to do so. And I value that. I think, because, as I said, the world is becoming smaller - its inevitable that most people will have to learn about other cultures, interact with other people… and I think the more that you know about a person the more you understand the differences and it can help facilitate a good relationship. I call them now my Taiwanese family…I have a place to come back to when I come back.”
What are your plans after returning to the U.S.?
“My goal when I return to America is to continue learning Chinese. Because its so different from English to be able to at least come and, say, Taiwan, China, wherever – and be able to speak Chinese. I think people appreciate that, that you can speak their language. And, then I also think that because its so different that that’s an accomplishment.”
What does Providence’s Catholic affiliation mean?
I’m not catholic. Even though it’s a Catholic institution…they respect religious freedom. You don’t feel - whatever your religious preference you feel free, and that’s the advantage. They have a value for religious freedom. You know that they have a respect for God, and so that you appreciate.
Perhaps returning to a remark Ms. Anderson made when she 1st sat down for her discussion is the best. Describing her motivations for choosing Providence & studying abroad she said
“International experience gives you an edge….” And Providence Provides students that edge: with Business classes in English, the opportunity to learn Chinese, classes conducted with local firms looking to expand into Western markets, the chance to make lasting international friendships, the opportunity to learn more about Asian culture and the broad satisfaction Ms. Anderson expressed in Providence.
Elisa Romero, Honduras
Elisa Romero of Honduras of is one of those rare personalities who seem to sparkle with joie de vivre. Just 19 years she said that from her very youngest years she was telling her friends and family that she wanted to go abroad and learn Chinese.
“Chinese is so different and I always wanted to learn it. Wanted to learn something so different, so interesting.”
She 1st enrolled in Chinese classes at Providence. Having established a foundation in the language she enrolled in Providence as a full-time degree seeking student, majoring in International Business.
Describing her choice of Taiwan she focused on two points – culture and business:
“Taiwan has such a rich culture – you really hold on to what you believe. You have a different for example new year. I just wanted to see all that & experience it - go to somewhere I hadn’t been and learn, and Taiwan just has all of that.”
“I want to study international business – Taiwan is such a perfect place to talk about business. It has grown so much in the last 50 years. So, I decided Taiwan was the best place and its full of opportunities for a brighter future.”
Among the Providence’s most attractive features Elisa noted that 1st for her was the school’s faith- based roots. She described how much happier her mother was knowing that she would be attending a Catholic university.
Elisa then described the way the school manages international students, noting “All the little details…” they handle so well. “If I have a question, I can go to Linda…” at the Office of International Affairs. She noted that “for someone who is really far away from her country and her family, those questions really make a difference makes us feel special and at home like a family.” And this was a major factor in convincing Elisa to stay at Providence, even though she had applied to other schools. “They seem interested in us.” “[We are] not just another student.”
Speaking to people back home thinking of coming to Taiwan Elisa said:
“I will tell them not to be scared…of the distance. They think it is too far. I might not see my people in like 3 years maybe until they save. And they feel maybe they’re going to get homesick. There are many people here willing to help is. Some people [may think] the Taiwanese are really shy. And, even if they are shy they try to help you out. It’s really nice and its fun and it’s a good experience and its worth it.”
Heber Martinez, Honduras
Heber Martinez is a 22 year old artist, also from Honduras with an eye for color and detail who appears in every way the artist. He spent 3 years at the National School of Fine Arts in Honduras and worked as a graphic designer before enrolling in Providence University, majoring in Mass Communications.
Heber chose Taiwan because he has always been attracted by Chinese arts. “I like…Chinese paintings and calligraphy. When I studied I saw a lot of Chinese painters. So I decided I have to learn how to do that, studying calligraphy and many other arts.”
In Taiwan he finds cityscape and landscape to be a rich canvas itself. In the multitude of buildings and panoply of signs found down every street he sees art. Then, turning around he finds green mountains and a lush landscape close at hand. “You can have buildings, cars and so much movement…then you can have mountains, trees, rivers and the sea in the same area.”
Describing his motivation for attending Providence Heber also began by mentioning the schools Catholic roots. Saying the school “Has the same values that I have.”
Heber followed that consideration with a strong endorsement of the Providence University’s treatment of international students. “I have to say that all the people that work here, especially in the Office of International Affairs are very helpful to me.”
Describing the way the OIA handled any issues he encountered and noting that “We are scholarship students so they always…” keep us fully informed of everything we need and sure that we are getting everything in a timely manner.
Further, Heber described how Providence University’s commitment to International students extends down to individual instructors. During lectures professors “always check to see if [international students]understand”.
Another issue Heber raised was Providence University’s resources. Firstly in terms of media – he noted that purchasing necessary cameras, computers and video equipment in Taiwan was often “20-30%” less expensive than in his home country.
Next, Heber described one of Providence University’s gems – a resource the school is known for nationwide – it’s library of some one million volumes. Noting that the library was one of the nicest places on campus, Heber also pointed out that nearly 30% of the volumes are in foreign languages – a significant percentage in Spanish! Including books, magazines & newspapers Heber noted “That’s why we don’t get homesick.”
Speaking to people thinking of studying at Providence:
“I have to say that Taiwanese people are really nice. They try to help you. I think it’s a really nice place to live. I have to say that anyone who has the opportunity will be in love with Taiwan.”
Rachel Tsha, Congo
Rachel Tsha is perusing a degree in Ecology. She comes from an elite Congolese background – her grandfather was instrumental in leading the country to independence and served as Congo’s first Prime minister; her father was the country’s minister of health and a senator. Rachel has politics in her blood. She mentioned that one day she hopes to return to Congo to participate in the government as well.
Rachel chose Providence University on the recommendation of a Taiwanese friend. Rachel’s parents both came from a western medical background, but Rachel’s dream has always been in just the opposite direction. She wants to study Chinese medicine, and pioneer its introduction to Congo.
Rachel’s experience at Providence echoes both Elisa & Heber’s. In choosing Providence she begins by mentioning her Catholic faith. This made the move to providence very easy.
After that she describes the amount of support she gets. “If I have problems or questions they are very helpful.” “Even if we have a typhoon, they call me. It touches my heart.” Other African students studying in Taiwan tell her ‘You are lucky.’”
Speaking to her compatriots back home considering Providence, Rachel says: People they are nice; they are friendly. Don’t be afraid to go.”