The Final Recap

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

Hello everybody. My name is Jackie Hardwick, and I am an FEA CET Access Partner Scholar. This blog post recaps the time I spent abroad as I participated in the Summer 2023 CET Taiwan program.

The last ten weeks have been so enlightening, and it’s funny reading back on all of my earlier blog posts and seeing my progression. My original goal for this post was to track my “changing perspectives and priorities,” but I believe this became more than that.

I’ve studied abroad before, but this summer was different. The time I spent with the girls in my apartment was invaluable to me, and I appreciate everything they have given and taught me during this time. We talked about anything and everything, and were happy to sit around our living room table every night to recap our day and share whatever new terms or vocabulary we learned. A typhoon (颱風) passed through Taipei a few days ago, and our daily Chinese class was canceled. We sat on the floor, only getting up to grab snacks or cook dinner, and reflected on the summer we had. We showed each other the souvenirs we collected for our families and talked about what we were looking forward to during the next school year. Then, we had a study session and helped each other prepare for our final exams. It hit me as our local roommate quizzed us on vocabulary and grammar patterns that this would be one of the last moments I would share with the other girls, and I got a bit emotional, I’m not going to lie. So thank you to my roommates, for being a part of a space I called home for a short while.

Overall, I think I did well in my Chinese classes. Although the grade I earned during this program is one way to measure my progress, I don’t consider it a major element. My 老師 and I shared a final conversation about my progress in the class, and it was extremely positive. When I first started this program, I was worried sick about the workload, the difficulty of the course, and especially my lack of knowledge of traditional characters. Reading traditional characters isn’t as harrowing as I first thought, and I feel much more confident in my speaking and listening skills. Learning a second language is a continuous journey, but this class was definitely a highlight on this path. The fact that I feel comfortable speaking Chinese outside of class shows my growth more than any grade, and I’m so grateful to my 老師 and my class for having a part of that.

I am happy to report that the Brown Bag presentation at my internship went extremely well, and the other interns and I were so relieved. We had around 100 attendees, and really good engagement throughout the presentation. A few other Fulbright and EducationUSA employees also attended the presentation, and gave us positive feedback as soon as we finished. We turned in all of our work and had our final meeting with Tracie. Seeing all the work we’ve done in these last few weeks summed up in a few email attachments seemed a little weird at first, but Tracie thanked us for the work we’ve done and shared her final thoughts. This internship gave me clarity on the career path I wish to pursue. I love collaborating with people to create and plan events, and working with Tracie on the Brown Bag series throughout the summer only proved that. And as someone who relied on programs like EducationUSA when I was in high school, I know how paramount they are to connect students in need with resources that can help them. I would love to work with international education programs similar to EducationUSA, and that is where I will shift my focus when planning my post-graduate career path.

And most importantly, I met so many people that have enriched my life for the better. I think anyone who meets me in person knows how much I love to make friends, but this trip definitely made me anxious. When I landed in Taiwan, I was worried more than usual about finding people I could connect with and share this experience with. But my worries were completely unfounded. Between traveling to different cities around the country, rounds of karaoke or bowling, and the daily lunches we would share after class, the people I spent my time with were essential to this experience. We shared our stories with each other, talked about our career and academic goals, and laughed through so many bad jokes. We slowly but surely became a community, and I value everyone who became a part of it. So to all the local roommates, language partners, students, and friends that I was able to connect and bond with, thank you for sharing this experience with me.

Studying abroad in Taiwan opened up so many opportunities for me. I’m in the final leg of my academic journey, and now I have a clear idea of how I want to start my career. I’ve gained a new mentor, and I know I can look to her for advice and direction. I’ve listened to so many new perspectives about education in both East Asia and the United States, and I know I will stove to ensure those voices are heard in the spaces I occupy. I’ve bonded and connected with people that I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life, and I already have plans to visit again in Taiwan or throughout the US. This experience has given me so much, and I’m proud of the growth I’ve seen in myself in terms of my independence and willingness to learn. So thank you to everyone that I shared a moment or memory with in Taiwan, and thank you for reading my blogs!