Mt. Vernon recently welcomed a group of eight students and eight teachers from Taiwan. The group experienced American education and culture for two weeks, while simultaneously sharing their own culture with Mt. Vernon students and staff. According to Chen Chun-Sheng, who is an elementary principal and was the leader of the group, they were impressed by the hospitality and warmth offered by the faculty, staff, and students at Mt. Vernon.
A welcome dinner for the host families, School Board of Trustees and school administration supplied an introduction to Mt. Vernon for the Taiwanese guests. A traditional hamburger/hot dog American affair began the cultural experience at Mt. Vernon.
Educationally, the group from Taiwan would like to emulate the technology from Mt. Vernon in their own schools, as well as the learning environment that is present in all Mt. Vernon schools. Chun-Sheng, who uses the American name, “Handsome,” shared that the American schools are very student-centered and engaging, which is another focus he’d like to improve in his schools back home.
During the stay, Taiwanese students stayed with host families and attended school alongside a student from Mt. Vernon. Five Taiwanese students were 16 years old and attended Mt. Vernon High School, one was in fifth grade at Fortville Elementary School, and two were in Kindergarten and stayed with their parents. The adults, who all had leadership positions in their schools, chose to stay in a nearby hotel.
One of the most impressive experiences with the Taiwanese was when each student shared their musical talent with the fifth graders at Fortville Elementary School (FES). Each Taiwanese student, dressed in their school uniform or recital dress, showed mastery of their musical instrument. Piano and guitar were the instruments of choice; the FES students were truly amazed and impressed with their talent. (See videos below.) The exchange ended with “Handsome” giving each FES student a high-five in the hallway as they went back to class.
Not only did the Taiwanese experience American education, but they also visited sites such as the Motor Speedway “Kiss the Bricks” tour, an Indianapolis Indians game, and bowling. A detailed tour of Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI) showed the Taiwanese many of the programs and opportunities an American university offers.
The Taiwanese also wanted to experience plenty of shopping in America. The group visited Edinburgh Shopping Outlet followed by a trip to experience a big-box store, Walmart. With rain threatening the Brown County day trip, additional shopping at Greenwood was the appreciated substitute.
When students at Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation experience another culture with foreign students their age, their eyes are opened to global opportunities, similarities, differences, and a worldly experience. The International Exchange program at Mt. Vernon will continue to infuse a variety of cultures through all schools and provide opportunities to experience other countries.