Jordan Thrun and Joseph Williams, both sophomores at the University of North Georgia (UNG) and members of the university's Corps of Cadets, arrived in Taiwan earlier this month to spend a semester studying at the Republic of China Military Academy (ROCMA).
The students are the first from UNG to participate in the new exchange program between the two schools. UNG has many partnerships with schools around the world as a means to help students become globally competent citizens. The university is working on new partnerships with schools in Germany, Italy, Latvia, and Oman, according to John Wilson, acting director of UNG's Center for Global Engagement.
"The Republic of China Military Academy offers UNG a great opportunity to partner with a premier Taiwanese military institution," Wilson said. "As one of only six senior military colleges in the United States, UNG stands to benefit from this association through both student and faculty exchanges."
Thrun and Williams will be at ROCMA through mid-June and will continue their military science requirements via UNG's distance learning program. The exchange experience also gives the cadets opportunities to learn about other aspects of the country. Both cadets are attending through a Project Global Officer (GO) scholarship, which is sponsored by the Defense Language and National Security Education Office and administered by the Institute of International Education.
"A typical week for me at ROCMA is Tuesday-Friday morning (3-1/2 days)," wrote Thrun, who is chronicling his experiences in a blog. "On Mondays I attend classes at National Sun Yat-san University in downtown Kaohsiung. On the weekends I can leave early (Friday afternoon) and explore Taiwan."
Two ROCMA administrators visited UNG in August to draft the exchange, and several UNG administrators have visited the Taiwanese academy. About 10 students from ROCMA, which has some 1,200 cadets and is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, also visited UNG.
During their UNG visit, Dr. Rung-Hua Ma, the academy's dean of academic affairs and Dr. Wen Jang Chu, director of international programs, spent a whirlwind day visiting with a number of administrators and faculty members and spent a few minutes with cadets taking a Chinese class.
Ma, a professor of mechanical engineering at the academy, said he was pleased by the welcoming attitude displayed by UNG faculty, staff and administration.
"It is my pleasure and honor to visit your university. I feel your sincerity toward us and our cadets," Ma said. "I hope our cadets can come here to polish their English and increase their international experience and I look forward to seeing their accomplishments."
A number of Taiwanese cadets are expected to study at UNG in fall 2014 for the reciprocal exchange.