Two WWU Education Students to Travel to Taiwan to Teach

By Allie Layos ’09


When William Woods University lets out for the summer, two students will continue their education. Caitlin Steiner of New Bloomfield, Mo., and Kelley Martin of Columbia, Mo., both education majors, are bound for Taiwan. 


The trip, May 11-25, is meant to expand the horizons of the students and provide them with a unique opportunity to experience teaching in a different culture. 


Dr. Roger Wen, assistant professor of education and business, decided that a trip to Taiwan would be in order after his students spent the past 10 months teaching a class of Taiwanese fifth-graders to read and speak English.


The course, called Educational Technology, allowed WWU students the opportunity to partner with Jian Sing Primary School in southern Taiwan.  Kuo, Chun-Lin (Brian), one of the teachers there, received his master of education degree (M.Ed.) from WWU in 2008.


Through live video conferencing technology, the students were able to teach lessons to the fifth-graders in Taiwan. Now Steiner and Martin will have the opportunity to meet and teach this class in person, as well as other classes throughout the country.


The trip will begin at Jian Sing Primary School, where the pair will again teach the students English, as well as integrated lessons of social studies and art. Later the group will travel to other schools, and will even have the opportunity to experience the culture of Taiwan as they visit sites such as the Tainan Confucius Temple and the BaGua Mountain.


While they are there, they will also host the second Taiwan WWU Alumni gathering event with help from the WWU Alumni Office. William Woods has had a program of educating students from the Southeast Asian island since 1992 and has conferred more than 700 degrees to Taiwanese students.


On May 21, Steiner, Martin and Wen will travel to Central Taiwan and to National Changhua University of Education, to give a speech called “Integrating Technology and Utilizing Resources for K-20 Education.” The speech will be given to the student body and education faculty on site, but it will also be broadcast via video conferencing to remote students as well.


Wen has high hopes for this trip, and carefully selected Steiner and Martin to participate.


“Students were chosen by me and the teacher in Taiwan, based on their performance and interaction with those fifth-graders during the video conferencing activity. There were also some financial commitments they needed to provide from their end. I invited several students for this opportunity and these two met the requirements and were able to participate,” said Wen.


Steiner’s certification area is in teaching middle school social studies, and when she was approached by Wen about the trip to Taiwan, she welcomed the chance to go.


“I jumped at the opportunity because I love traveling and teaching. . .put them together and it makes for an exciting trip,” said Steiner. “I hope to gain more understanding about Taiwan, as well as a different aspect of teaching.”


While Steiner has done much traveling before, she has never been to Taiwan.

“I’m pretty excited to go because I have never been to Asia and I like experiencing new things. I’m also excited because this experience provides a different style of teaching and perhaps a new teaching opportunity,” Steiner said.

“I’m going to judge the success of the trip and teaching the students formally as well as informally. I am thinking about having the students complete a short worksheet that I can evaluate and then use in my education portfolio. Also, I will discuss the activities and lessons we do with Dr. Wen and the other teachers.” 

Martin, whose certification area is in art education, said, “I want to participate in the trip for several reasons; the biggest one is for my resume. How many opportunities does an education major get to show off their skills internationally? I’m excited to challenge myself, and this is a great challenge.”


She added, “Another reason is to go out of the country and experience the culture, eat the food and just see what’s out there. I’ve only ever left the country to go on vacation and one doesn’t really experience the culture while lying on a beach towel getting a tan, or watching off a boat. I hope to gain from the trip knowledge about the country and memories. But mostly I want to gain confidence in the classroom and in myself that I can go half way across the world and accomplish things by myself. That’s going to be awesome.”


Martin is a little nervous, but more than that she is excited; she plans to do some art projects with the Taiwanese students and can’t wait to get started. For her, the success of the trip will be measured in what she learns and in how smoothly the trip goes.


“I will also consider it a success if I don’t run out of money,” she said.


According to Wen, there are many purposes to this trip: to celebrate learning, give WWU students diverse experiences by teaching in a different culture and environment, visit different schools to see how education works in other part of the world, and finally make WWU visible on a global scale.


“I hope that they would be able to use this experience and reflect upon what they have learned from school to be better educators in the future,” said Wen. “I want them to be able to look at issues from a global perspective.”