AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk Delivers Farewell Speech at NCKU: Reflecting on and Looking Ahead After Her Three-Year Tenure

AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk Delivers Farewell Speech at NCKU: Reflecting on and Looking Ahead After Her Three-Year Tenure.

SDG17

AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk Delivers Farewell Speech at NCKU: Reflecting on and Looking Ahead After Her Three-Year Tenure.

Synergy Correlation

 
Written by Amy Lin. Image credit to NCKU News Center.

Sandra Oudkirk, Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), visited National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) on June 11, 2024, to deliver her farewell speech before the end of her tenure.
 
During the university's final exam week, Director Oudkirk not only extended her best wishes to the students but also shared her profound insights on education and cultural exchange. She emphasized that these exchanges are the bedrock of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership and crucial for promoting peace and stability. Director Oudkirk expressed her hope that through this speech, students would benefit from cultural and educational exchange programs.

Dr. Hong-Chen Chen, Executive Vice President of NCKU, introduced Director Oudkirk's distinguished career. Director Oudkirk has been in diplomatic service since 1991, accumulating over 30 years of experience, with Taiwan being her first overseas post. After serving in various locations, she returned to AIT in July 2021, becoming the first female director. During her tenure, Director Oudkirk strengthened U.S.-Taiwan relations in various areas, including talent cultivation and technological development. As a leading academic institution, NCKU actively engages in higher education exchanges with the U.S., having signed agreements with over 50 American universities. Over the past five years, NCKU has co-authored over 2,500 academic papers with U.S. institutions, primarily in medicine, physics and astronomy, biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology, engineering, and materials science. Additionally, more than 1,000 American students have come to NCKU for short-term exchanges, Mandarin language learning, and degree programs.

Director Oudkirk outlined the mission of AIT and the significance of U.S.-Taiwan relations, highlighting that people-to-people ties are the foundation of peace and stability. She reviewed the history of exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan, noting that since post-World War II, the U.S. has not only provided economic aid but also encouraged cultural exchanges in the liberal arts such as music and literature.
 
Director Oudkirk also mentioned various collaborative programs, including the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative, the Fulbright Program, and the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which deepen exchanges through English teaching, Mandarin teaching, and music, and empower women across diverse fields. She concluded her speech by thanking her partners over the past three years and wishing for continued prosperity in future exchanges and relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

The event was attended by numerous distinguished guests. Representing the American Institute in Taiwan were Neil H. Gibson, Branch Chief of AIT Kaohsiung Branch; Arend Zwartjes, Public Affairs Officer of AIT's Public DiplomacySection; and Nelson Wen, Public Affairs Officer of Public Diplomacy Section at AIT Kaohsiung Branch. Moreover, Tain-Tsair Hsu, former Tainan Mayor; Jay Hu, General Manager of Jufan Industrial Co. Ltd; Peng-Jian Su, Director of People to People International Tainan Chapter, ROC; and Jian-Hong Chen, Section Chief of the Sports Bureau of Tainan City Government were also in attendance.
 
NCKU was represented by an array of faculty and administrators, including Dr. Hong-Chen Chen, NCKU Executive Vice President; Dr. Sun-Yuan Hsieh, Vice President for International Affairs; Dr. Fu-Zen Shaw, Dean of College of Social Science; Dr. Chien-Hsu Chen, Dean of College of Planning and Design and Dr. Yan-Shen Shan, Dean of College of Medicine. The international affairs team was well-represented with Dr. Sherry Shu-Jung Hu, Associate Vice President for International Affairs and Director of Division of Overseas Recruitment and Admission; Cindy Su, CEO for International Affairs; Dr. Shu-Ying Wang, Director of Division of Study Abroad; Dr. Chia-Hsiang Lin, Director of Division of International Relations; and Dr. Chun Hei Antonio Cheung, Director of Division of Overseas Students and Scholars Services. In addition, many Fulbright Scholars and participants of the International Visitor Leadership Program from NCKU also attended this event.

Sandra Oudkirk, AIT Director, Delivers Her Farewell Speech at NCKU.

NCKU Executive Vice President Hong-Chen Chen (the left) Presents a Gift to Director Oudkirk.

NCKU Executive Vice President Hong-Chen Chen (the right) Fields Questions from Students to Director Oudkirk.

Group Photo After the Speech.

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