Spokesman says Harvard's summer program in Taipei will broaden experiences

10/14/2021 04:29 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

New York, Oct. 13 (CNA) The decision to move a Harvard University study-abroad program from Beijing to Taipei starting next summer will allow participants to broaden their experiences, a spokesman for the Harvard Division of Continuing Education (DCE) has said.

The U.S. university decided to relocate the summer program from Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) in the Chinese capital to Taipei's National Taiwan University (NTU).

Responding to a request for comment from the CNA, Harry Pierre, DCE associate director of communications, said in an email that the new arrangement "presents a different opportunity for our instructors and learners to broaden their educational experiences."

The associate director added that the decision "reflects a wide array of operational factors."

According to an Oct. 7 report in the Harvard Crimson, the program's director Jennifer L. Liu said the program was relocated because of a perceived lack of friendliness from the host institution in Beijing.

Liu told the Crimson that the program planners had experienced difficulties accessing the classrooms and dorms they needed in BLCU, and also that they were told in 2019 they could no longer hold a party celebrating the U.S.' independence day on July 4.

"Given the condition they provided, we really couldn't run the program with the quality that we are hoping to deliver to our students," Liu said.

Liu suspects that the unwelcoming environment may be due to a change in the Chinese government's attitude toward U.S. institutions.

According to the DCE website, the summer program in Taipei will incorporate the same rigorous language curriculum while providing participants the opportunity to immerse in the dynamic and diverse society and culture of Taiwan.

Meanwhile, NTU told CNA Tuesday a total of 60 participants selected for the program are expected to attend the eight-week program at NTU from June 24 to Aug. 20, 2022.

In addition to offering Chinese-language lessons, the program will also include field trips to famous tourist attractions in northern Taiwan and a series of cultural activities, according to NTU.

Talks between NTU and Harvard University over the issue began in 2019, NTU said, adding that the program in Taipei was originally set to begin in 2020 but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(By Ozzy Yin, Joseph Yeh and Teng Pei-ju)

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