Meet the friendly IELP chaperone who’s always smiling and ready to chat about Taiwanese culture.
Name: Chih-Chun Yeh
Program: GAE (now a Temple grad student), Short-Term Program chaperone
IELP: Good to see you, Chih-Chun! Tell me about how you came to Temple.
CHIH-CHUN: Last summer, I applied for the DBMD program, but I had to go through the Graduate Academic English program first to improve my English.
Chih-Chun and her GAE classmates.
IELP: Now that you’ve made it to grad school, what are you studying?
CHIH-CHUN: I’m majoring in Tourism and Hospitality Management. I really like the marketing side of things. Something like Visit Philly destination marketing is really cool. I really want to work for this type of company.
IELP: And since you’re a world traveler, you’ll know what you’re talking about! Can you tell me your first impression of the U.S.?
CHIH-CHUN: It’s really different. For example, here there are lots of stop signs on the road, so every car will stop and let the people cross first, and they wave. And I see pedestrians wave back! Everyone is so polite! In Taiwan the traffic is really crowded and we have lots of motorcycles, so we don’t wave on pedestrians. People just let the car go first because they don’t want to take the risk.
IELP: If I only had 24 hours to spend in Taiwan, what would you tell me to see or do?
CHIH-CHUN: Definitely go to Taipei because it’s the capital. You can go up to see the city at the top of Taipei 101 – it’s called that because it’s the tallest tower in Taiwan with 101 floors.
Chih-Chun on the site of a historic house in Penghu, Taiwan.
IELP: In Taiwan, everyone uses Traditional Chinese rather than Simplified Chinese like they do on the mainland. What’s the difference?
CHIH-CHUN: We have different phrases from Mainland China, but most of us can understand each other when speaking. But the written characters are mostly different. Simplified can use the English alphabet to spell out their words, but Traditional Chinese doesn’t.
IELP: What’s a phrase you can show me in Traditional Chinese?
(Chih-Chun wrote 我愛台灣 in a notebook. When spoken, it’s pronounced “Wŏ ài táiwān,” which means “I love Taiwan.” In Simplified Chinese, the same phrase is written like this, with fewer details on the characters: 我爱台湾).
IELP: What’s the best thing you’ve seen or done in the U.S. so far?
CHIH-CHUN: Last winter I went to Florida. Everyone takes things slow, just enjoying everything. We saw the sunset on the beach in Tampa and I felt like, ‘This is really America.’ That’s what you always see in movies.
IELP: Tell me about Taiwanese food.
CHIH-CHUN: In Taiwan we have Night Market. Little shops and restaurants will open from afternoon into the night selling all kinds of food and produce. We have stinky tofu, which is fried tofu with a sauce that stinks. But it tastes good!
We can smell it from here!
IELP: We know you well as a chaperone for short-term students in the IELP. What has been a memorable moment with the students?
CHIH-CHUN: They’re really curious about America. Once we were on the subway and we saw people dancing. The students were like, “What?! Does that happen all the time?” They were so surprised. We also take the school bus to go to some attractions, and they always take photos of it because it’s a classic American yellow school bus. It’s so funny.
Chih-Chun exploring Independence Mall with ACT students this summer.
IELP: What’s one piece of advice that you would give to students thinking of coming to the U.S. for graduate school?
CHIH-CHUN: In grad school, you have team projects, or individual papers, so writing skills are very important. My writing skills were not that good, but the GAE program helped me a lot. Also I am really shy, and at first I didn’t want to raise my hand. It’s different in Taiwan, but in the U.S. you need to talk really often in class to your classmates and to the professor.
Thanks for the tip, Chih-Chun. Who's brave enough to try some stinky tofu with her?