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Collaboration allows UCLA to ‘Spotlight Taiwan’

By hong chen

July 15, 2013 1:48 a.m.

UCLA will collaborate with the government of Taiwan this year in a new project called Spotlight Taiwan, a partnership which aims to spread Taiwanese culture around the world.

UCLA is the second school to commit to the project, according to a press release from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture. The school announced its plans to collaborate with Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture last week.

The UCLA Center for Chinese Studies will organize a series of public events promoting Taiwanese culture using about $87,000 in donations from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, said Yunxiang Yan, a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Chinese Studies in an emailed statement.

The agreement and funding will last for one year and can be renewed to up to four years, according to the memorandum of understanding signed by Chancellor Block.

Yan said in an email that Spotlight Taiwan will allow the center to organize Taiwanese cultural events for UCLA and the greater Los Angeles community that normally would not be possible.

Events funded by the partnership include a biennial film festival of up to 10 films, a series of public events featuring traditional and contemporary Taiwanese art, and a lecture series on Taiwanese society, Yan said in the email.

Yan added that the program will strengthen UCLA’s already strong ties to Asia by building cross-cultural bridges to further promote Taiwanese culture in the U.S.

Benjamin Chi, a representative of the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture, said the partnership is natural, as several hundred students from Taiwan study at UCLA and about 25 percent of Taiwanese students studying overseas choose to study in California.

Chi added that he thinks participating schools will bring a level of knowledge and expertise on Taiwanese culture that will allow Spotlight Taiwan to effectively accomplish its mission.

“(The schools) will know what is the best to do to encourage more mutual understanding between (the U.S. and Taiwan) and (will allow more Americans) to learn more about Taiwan,” Chi said.

Students from Taiwanese student groups at UCLA said they hope to to cooperate with administrators on the project.

Cheng-Han Wu, a second-year electrical engineering student and activities vice president of the Taiwanese Student Association, said he hopes students will get the chance to experience the spirit and culture of the country through Spotlight Taiwan.

Taiwanese culture is famous for its food, such as boba milk tea and beef noodle, as well as for its natural beauty in the countryside and its modern beauty through Taipei 101, Wu said.

“Taiwanese culture transmits love and warmness. (Taiwan) accepts anyone from anywhere and connects all of us,” Wu said.

The leaders of the Taiwanese American Union, a student group that promotes Taiwanese culture in the UCLA community, said they hope Spotlight Taiwan will shed light on the variety of cultural programs student groups already host to feature Taiwanese culture.

Emily Chien, a second-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student and publicity director of the Taiwanese American Union, said her student group already hosts events such as an annual Lunar New Year Festival together with the Taiwanese Student Association and other Chinese student groups.

Chien said she hopes Spotlight Taiwan will promote and further expand on such student-organized events.

“(Spotlight Taiwan) will strengthen our own message at UCLA and make sure that Taiwanese students are well represented,” Chien said.

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