As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, Buena Vista University is expanding opportunities for students to gain international knowledge and a global perspective.
This summer, Sydney Snyder, a senior elementary education major at BVU, will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, as a recipient of The Dr. Marvin Ho Fellowship for English Teaching in Taiwan, one of the newest international programs developed by BVU. As an international fellow, Sydney will spend one academic year at the Taipei Language Institute (TLI) teaching English and serving as an instructor of American culture for students.
“This is such an exciting opportunity for me,” says Sydney, who is from Lake City and is student teaching at the Storm Lake Elementary School. “I’ve learned a lot of useful strategies from my classes at BVU that I’ve used in my student teaching placements and will take with me to Taiwan. The experience I will get from this will only help me to become a stronger teacher.”
BVU has a relationship with TLI that spans over three decades. Since the early 1980s, TLI has provided instructors of Chinese language for students at BVU’s Storm Lake campus. Last year, BVU expanded its partnership with TLI to enable one recent education graduate to teach in Taipei as part of the Fellowship. Dr. Ho is the TLI founder and chairman of the Board of Directors who established the exchange program between BVU and TLI.
“Although TLI has many different partnerships with other colleges, none are quite as unique as the teacher and student exchange program between BVU and TLI. Both parties formed a great friendship over the years,” says Camille Lee, assistant director of international communication/public relations at TLI.
“It’s important to form partnerships with others globally,” adds Lee. “People from different nationalities have different perspectives when looking at the same issue. That being said, it is crucial for us, individuals, to take on this responsibility to widen our limited world views by interacting with different people.”
The Fellowship provides travel to and from Taiwan, living accommodations, a living stipend, and free graduate tuition through BVU’s online program with coursework for an endorsement in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) and training in Chinese language.
“The Fellowship is a way to expand the partnership we’ve had with TLI and to provide increased international opportunities for our students with an organization that we know and trust,” says Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at BVU. “At the same time, the fellowship gives our selected student a year of wonderfully valuable teaching experience, intercultural opportunities, and Chinese language lessons.”
“The BVU community should be very excited about this because I don’t know many institutions that provide a fellowship of this magnitude,” says Dr. Robbie Ludy, professor of special education at BVU who has also been closely involved with the Fellowship program.
Ludy, who was recently named as the new director of academic partnerships and coordinator of international education programs for BVU’s School of Education, says one of her goals is to increase international opportunities for BVU students and faculty. “I hope this is the first of many fellowships and that we are continually looking at other programs and ways to build other partnerships.”
Although the Fellowship is currently only awarded to one BVU education student per year, the program has the potential to expand, says Ludy. “Because there are multiple TLI centers in Taiwan, growth is certainly possible, but first we must determine which locations have the greatest need for people to learn English.”
“I’m hoping the TLI experience will change the way BVU students view the world, and that they will learn to look at life through a diverse filter and reexamine their responsibilities to the world,” adds Ludy. “Not only does the Fellowship allow them to become stronger educators, but gives them a prolonged and intimate look at another culture.”
Sydney says she is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach English to students at TLI. “Professionally, this experience will give me the credentials that will hopefully help me land a job in the school district I would like to be at after Taiwan,” she says. “Personally, the experience will teach me about myself inside and out. This will be the first time I am away from my family for a long time and I will miss them, but I know it’s something I need to do for myself.”