13:53 PM

Taiwan Youth Ambassadors Share Culture, Talents with UHD Students

The Bayou Connection program welcomed a group of 16 Taiwan Youth Ambassadors (TYA) to the UHD campus Thursday.

Founded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China in 2009, the Taiwan Youth Ambassadors program allows exceptional Taiwanese college and university students to travel internationally, engage in cultural exchange, participate in dialogue with youth from other countries, and share the culture of Taiwan.

This year, MOFA selected 160 students who were divided into 10 groups. Each group will cover a different region of the world, and they will cumulatively visit 41 cities in 35 countries throughout the Asian Pacific, North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Africa and West Asia over a period of three weeks. The group visiting UHD traveled to St. Lucia and St. Kitts before making their final stop in Houston.

The program's theme for 2015 is "Youth from Taiwan, Compassion for All," a representation of the commitment of Taiwanese students to global humanitarian and developmental issues.

Following the traditional presentation of gifts and introductions from Vice President of Advancement & University Relations Johanna Wolfe, College of Public Service Interim Dean Leigh Van Horn, and Criminal Justice Department Chair Barbara Bellbot, Bayou Connection Program Director Hsiao-Ming Wang introduced the afternoon's VIP guest, John Chih, Deputy Director General of the Taipei Economic Cultural Office (TECO).

"We are honored to have the Taiwan Youth Ambassadors visit Houston as the only U.S. stop on their tour. They truly demonstrate compassion toward the sustainability and global issues of the world," said Chih.

Throughout this high-impact experience, UHD students listened as ambassadors gave a brief presentation on the culture, mannerisms, languages and foods that are characteristic to Taiwan. The ambassadors described the cultural diversity, acceptance, social activism, and volunteerism that make up the national identity of Taiwan.

Following the presentation, several Taiwanese students shared their musical talents with the audience. Performances included melodies played on traditional Chinese instruments, as well as the performance of a Chinese aria.

This is not the TYA's first visit to UHD, and Van Horn anticipates that it will not be the last.

"The visits from the TYA offer a rich opportunity for our students to share and build cultural connections with Taiwanese youth," said Van Horn. "Our relationship with Taiwan has become a grand tradition that we look forward to continuing into the future."