Lubbock, TX — As many of you know, the Fulbright Taiwan experience was a bit of a roller coaster. The global pandemic sent me scurrying home back in March 2020 about three months too early, but I was able not only keep teaching remotely through the pandemic, but even invited back for another series of team-taught lectures (with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Jih-Hsuan Tammy Lin) back in Fall 2020. It’s been an absolute thrill to maintain such a close relationship with National Chengchi University (國立政治大學). In fact, I recently received word of some internal funding to revisit NCCU this May 2022, but details are still being ironed out. =)
I’ve been watching some of my former 政大 students already succeeding quite well — one was recently collecting data regarding nostalgia and media use for her MA thesis, and that was a topic we covered heavily in my “Media Entertainment” course. It’s always tough to tell how much of an impact you’re making when you’re (a) at a distance and (b) online, but it’s been good to see the students really flourishing during these times.
As many might know, Taiwan has been suffering from a relative surge in COVID-19 cases lately, which have forced various levels of social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols. While many in the US debate or outright reject the reality of vaccines as a live-saving and pandemic-ending solution, Taiwan anxiously awaits vaccine shipments — including from the US. I’d been wondering how my former students were handing this new reality.
About two weeks ago, I received a remarkably heartwarming email from the International Master’s Program in International Communication Studies program (IMICS). With students set to graduate this term, they’d already decided to move their graduation ceremonies online.
… and in their planning? They invited me to be part of the festivities. Their ceremony will kick off at 12:55 AM here in Texas, and I could not be more thrilled to join the festivities. In a months-long struggle for relevance and place, this small token was one more reminder that those mundane things we do matter.
Congratulations, IMICS Class of 2021. =)