Ambassadors making plans for Taiwan trip Alexis Lang and Tim Goodman, at left, are among the Ambassadors of Excellence who will travel to Taiwan Dec. 27 through Jan. 7. They are both Vermillion High School students. Dr. Bruce Milne, center, will also make the trip, as will Ophelia Hsu, right, a Taiwan graduate student at The University of South Dakota. by M. Jill Karolevitz While Christmas shopping and decorations are in the minds of most people during this holiday season, Dr. Bruce Milne, 43 high school students and nine other chaperones are busy finalizing plans for a trip to Taiwan Dec. 27 through Jan. 7.
Milne, a professor of education at The University of South Dakota, is one of the driving forces behind the South Dakota Ambassadors of Excellence program for high school students each summer at USD. His work with USD graduate students from Taiwan sparked the idea for the Taiwan visit with this year�s ambassadors.
The South Dakota Ambassadors of Excellence is a group of high-ability, talented high school students in grades 10 through 12, who come from approximately 35 communities around the state. Ambassadors assemble for two weeks each summer at USD for academic study in enrichment classes, most of which focus on the arts and humanities. A vital part of this summer program is the annual South Dakota Ambassadors Show, featuring singing, dancing and variety acts. This
high-energy performance, patterned after �Up With People,� will be taken on tour in Taiwan.
In addition to several performances throughout the trip, the ambassadors� itinerary includes a visit to Taipei, where they will meet with the mayor, visit several high schools, and celebrate New Year�s Eve. They will also tour the Taipei Zoo, the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sing-Kuan Tower, Martyr Shrine, National Palace Museum, Lung-San Temple and Hwa-See Night Market. A special New Year�s Day event � attending the Presidential Hall National Flag ceremony � is also on the schedule.
In Taichung, the ambassadors will tour the city and visit the Institute of Technology. A tour of Tainan is also planned, along with seeing an ami aboriginal dance show in Hualien.
Milne is scheduled to give a formal presentation to the teachers and students at National Dong-Hwa University. The ambassadors will also spend a day at Fu-Yuan Village, where programs include visiting the Fu-Yuan Butterfly Valley Forest Recreational Area and the Ma-Lan-Go Creek Ecological Preserve. They will also attend an aboriginal Food and Wine demonstration show and see the Bu-Non tribe�s traditional music show. The visit will end there with participation in the Community Dragon Dance and Traditional Chinese Drum shows.
On the last day of their journey, the students will travel by bus back to Taipei, while enjoying a visit to the National Park and viewing the scenic east coastline.
Students will not only stay at hotels throughout their trip, but they will also have the opportunity to stay with host families, an arrangement made prior to their departure.
Milne firmly believes the Taiwan experience will provide the Ambassadors a greater awareness of their own abilities, along with a sense of cultural diversity that exists throughout the world. The trip will be more than a showcase of South Dakota talent, he said. It will also be a true cultural exchange in every sense of the word.
�We want the people of Taiwan to show us their country,� Milne said. �We want them to share what they�re proud of � their schools, shrines, cities, museums and landscapes.�