Review of SCLP Summer Program in Taipei, Taiwan

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Review of SCLP Summer Program in Taipei, Taiwan

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Summer is always an exciting time for students to unwind, go on vacation, and … go take more classes?  Unknown to many students, there is a large abundance of academic opportunities to take advantage of over the summer: for example, the Language Study Program for Compatriot Youth (SCLP) at Tamkang University in Taipei, Taiwan.

This program is a language and cultural program offered to students from around the world.  Students with Chinese/Taiwanese heritage accepted into the program live for six weeks on campus while attending classes and participating in various activities.

“Personally, I wouldn’t attend this camp since it requires a big time commitment.  Six weeks is a lot of time to take out of the summer,” said Stephanie Welbaum, junior.

Students checked into the program on Thursday, July 5.  The first couple days of camp were filled with orientation festivities, such as touring the campus and learning the camp song.  This gave the students time to get comfortable with their new surroundings.

“The first week, I felt sort of strange being so far away from my family. It took an adjustment to get used to the environment at camp,” said Lisbell So, an eighth grader from the Dominican Republic.

A highly controversial policy at the camp was the discipline points system.  At the beginning of camp, students were awarded 15 points. Students could get their points deducted for a variety of reasons, such as, entering an unauthorized area.  If students had less than ten points, they were not allowed to attend the graduation trip at the end of camp. If students had less than six points, they were sent home.

On Monday, July 9, campers took a Mandarin placement test to determine their level of Chinese to be placed into a class best suited for their skill level.  The exam was split into three sections: online reading, a written essay portion, and an oral proficiency test. Based on their results, students would be split into one of five levels: A, B, C, D, or E (with E being the most advanced).  Within those levels, students were split into classes with others who tested similarly to them.

After the craziness of the first couple days settled down, the following days were a blur of classes and activities.  

A typical day would start with a morning call at 7:30 a.m.  Students were responsible for making sure they made it to their classrooms by 9:00 a.m.  Then students would attend five hours of language class, with a break for lunch in between.  Following language class was two hours of culture class. After that there was usually time set aside for a lecturer, movie, or group time.  During group time, each class’s counselor would take their class to do some kind of activity, such as going to the grocery store down the road or practicing for that week’s group performance.

Every Friday, the entire camp would leave campus on a MRT Tour.  The MRT is Taipei’s metro system. Donning bright yellow shirts, campers were taken to see important historical and cultural sights around Taipei.  A favorite for many of the campers was the trip to Taipei 101.

During the weekends, students were given the opportunity to check out if they had the proper parental permissions.  This gave participants more freedom to explore Taiwan and experience the culture on their own. Before students could check out on Saturday, there was usually an event first scheduled in the morning.  Events included activities such as singing and public speaking competitions. Classes had to prepare during the week for these upcoming competitions.

As camp began to draw to a close, students were required to take a final exam to evaluate their progress during the program.  Many students spent the night before cramming for the exam since their graduation trip was on the line. If students scored below a 60 percent, they were not able to attend the trip or receive a graduation certificate.

Before the graduation trip, many campers had to leave for various reasons, the main one being school was about to start back home for many of them.  There were many emotional goodbyes as crowds of campers gathered around the front doors to send off their friends and classmates.

¨Camp was a mix of good and bad.  I was confused at the beginning of camp because I was lost and had no friends.  After bonding with my class and meeting new people, camp became very fun. I regret not attending the graduation trip. When camp ended, I was devastated, and I have not been able to recover since,¨ said Vincent Yin.  Yin lives in Miami, Florida, and is a junior at SLAM, a local charter school.

The much anticipated graduation trip took students to see parts of Taiwan outside of Taipei including Taichung and Sun Moon Lake.  The trip lasted three days and two nights and was filled with bus karaoke and new experiences. None of the campers wanted to return to camp to say their last goodbyes on the last day.

“I wish I could go back in time so I could have no regrets and have my friends with me again.  I only realized the trip was special after it ended,” said Maxime Luk, a 17 year old from Paris, France.

Despite the constant complaining about the blinding yellow t-shirts and the bed-checks at 10:30 pm, many of the campers are now suffering from PCD (post camp depression).  A cheesy lyric from the annoyingly catchy camp song sums up the overall memories for many about the program: “永遠在一起”.

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