In collaboration with Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation and Oriental Institute of Technology, a select group of DISTED students travelled abroad to Taiwan for a month long programme from July to August 2014 called “New Era Service Talent Development” under the Transnational Education Experience Programme .
The programme was set up to provide a platform for students to experience different sights and sounds to gain a further understanding of the Taiwanese working culture. It also aimed to equip students with the desirable attitude, aptitude and skills in the service sector.
The students participated in a range of activities which included lectures, interactive sessions and study trips that focused on the concept of HUG (human-centric mindset, uniting multiple domains, global view with local act) and FIT (friendly in nature, innovative with diversity, technology awareness).
Each group comprised of six to seven persons, with students from DISTED’s Bachelor of Arts programme partnering with Bachelor of Design students from Taiwan. This allowed all of us, with our different backgrounds and cultures the opportunity to mingle with one another and exchange knowledge and stories.
Students were requested to prepare reports of their assignments at San Xia Old Street, San Xia Indigo Dyeing and San Xia Museum. Each mid and final report encompassed creative new service design that meets the requirement of FIT and HUG in order to create new era service. Under the guidance of several lecturers, each group of students came up with different ideas, such as the implementation of mobile application for San Xia Old Street to deliver educational and convenience service to people and much more. Students were also required to present their ideas in front of class every two weeks.
Ng Chian Chung said, “Through this learning programme, I had the opportunity to learn about something really new, which allowed me to redefine the meaning of service. Moreover, this learning programme enabled me to view a problem from different perspectives and to use a creative way to solve them. The month long programme gave me a lot of precious memories, which I will treasure and cherish.”
Students also went on a number of study trips, such as visits to the Taiwan Outward Bound Centre, Environmental Technology Research Centre, Kao Corporation Factory, shopping malls and University under the umbrella of the Far Eastern Group. Through these educational visits, they experienced first hand and had a deeper understanding of each corporation’s operations. Apart from the tight study schedule, they also had the chance to visit a few famous touristy spots such as the Fu Hang Soya Shop for a taste of Taiwan’s traditional breakfast soya milk (in dry form and liquid form) and yau za kuih, Yi Lan County, Tamsui, National Palace Museum, SongShan Cultural and Creative Park. Each study visit trip created a memorable experience for the students, who seized the opportunity to explore Taiwan.
The students also nurtured strong friendship with each other throughout the one-month programme. Students learnt about teamwork, coordination and respect each other culture. As quoted by Kahlil Gibran (1883), “in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures”. Aside from the busy learning period, students were also touched by passion and friendly nature of the Taiwanese people. They also made many new friends.
“A month in Taiwan really made a difference in terms of learning and the opportunity to meet many new friends in this programme. All of them are nice, friendly and easy to reach out to. Bidding them farewell left behind a treasure trove of nostalgic sweet memories for us,” student Yeoh Khim Seah added.
The programme ended with a closing ceremony, where everyone received a certificate as a proof of completing 160 training hours for the New Era Service Development Programme. In addition, Choo Tze Liang, Lim Meng Siew and Eunice Ang Yee Jun both were awarded as second, forth and fifth best performer respectively throughout the programme.
Overall, throughout this programme, students had grown tremendously as they underwent many defining moments with tears and joy. They experienced the hardships of being homesick and exhaustion over workloads, while at the same time enjoyed the excitement of travelling around Taiwan with friends. In fact, it was a good opportunity for students to be better individuals, according to Sarah Ho Hsing Chian who said, “I personally think that it was a great programme for students who do not have the opportunity to study abroad. Through this month-long programme, we were also able to learn to live independently. The classes we attended were also useful as it was something new for students from other majors like accounting.”
by Toh Yong Wei, BA(Hons) Business Management, Staffordshire University