Eight Boise State students who participated in the Asia Global Biztech Summer program in Taiwan are making their way back to campus after nearly two months abroad.
The program, the first of its kind at Boise State, was hosted by the College of Business and Economics with collaboration from the College of Engineering and the School of Public Service. Students studied history, political economy, business, culture and language at Providence University in Taichung, Taiwan, then fanned out across the island. They served month-long internships at Taiwanese firms specializing in a range of fields, from robotics, to artificial intelligence and research.
“It’s been a great honor and privilege to watch students gain life experience over the course of the program,” said Jack Marr, program founder and a clinical associate professor of international business who directs COBE’s global projects.
“The Eight,” as Marr likes to call the group of students who participated, came from a variety of academic disciplines. They ranged in age from freshmen to MBA students. They spoke a scattering of languages.
“We found strength in diversity,” said Marr.
For many of The Eight, he added, the summer in Asia was transformative.
Amy Bennett, an accountancy student minoring in Chinese language, came to the Biztech program having attended a summer language program in Taiwan in 2017. At first, she saw Biztech as an opportunity to hone her language skills. She plans to live and work in Asia in the future. But she soon realized the value of studying history, culture and business outside the “vacuum of my home culture,” she said.
She spent her internship with Pemay, a biotech manufacturer.
“I am gaining more confidence in talking to Taiwanese professionals, which is different from before when I had only communicated with students and teachers,” said Bennett. “I have a better understanding of Taiwan’s business and governmental world, and now have experience working within that world.”
Marr designed the program with several Asian partners, including the university and the Taiwan Thinktank, which advises senior officials on economics and political issues.
“I had a vision of this based on my past experience establishing New York University’s Business School in Shanghai,” said Marr. “I thought that with Taiwan, everything aligned: academics, government, business and cultural sponsors. Our Taiwanese partners responded to this vision, so we wanted to make it happen quickly. And we did.”
The program earned praise from many in Taiwan.
“We are grateful for you bringing such a group of talented students from Boise State to Taiwan,” wrote Carol Huiling Pan, section chief from the U.S. Academic Cooperation Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “What you are doing with Taiwan Thinktank is a really down-to-earth and helpful program, a key for deepening U.S.-Taiwan relations.”
Marr already is looking forward to next summer when the next group of Boise State Biztech students will travel to Asia. Recruiting for the 2019 program will begin early this fall.
Learn more about Boise State and Asia: Listen to The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs podcast featuring Marr on China’s presence on U.S. campuses.