By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Last month, Roger Howard ’18 sat down to discuss international affairs with someone who knows a lot about the subject: Vice President Dr. Chen Chien-jen of Taiwan.
Howard, who majored in political science and minored in international studies, was in Taiwan as a recipient of a Mosaic Taiwan Fellowship, part of a program for North American young professionals sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His fellow students elected him president of the group, and he enjoyed the unique opportunity to meet with Dr. Chen Chien-jen.
“We talked about how Taiwan struggles with international recognition but still thrives as a free economy and democracy, and about what the island nation does to help the cause for democracy not only in Asia but across the world,” Howard said.
The conversation took a personal turn, as Vice President Chen shared his own history as a famed doctor and public health figure who successfully led the battle to end the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak.
“To cap off the discussion we talked more about how Taiwan, Canada, and the United States can continue to strengthen diplomatic ties and how we can uphold and protect the democratic and free principles that all of us hold close,” Howard said.
The high-level meeting was an “incredible honor and privilege” for Howard, but was only one aspect of his immersive experience.
The program also included team-building and leadership development exercises, workshops, forums and lectures relating to Taiwan. In addition, the fellows visited businesses and non-governmental organizations, and toured scenic locations.
Howard came away deeply impressed with the Taiwanese people and what they have managed to achieve, despite the lack of official recognition as a nation by a large part of the international community. Ingenuity and improvisation enable Taiwan to thrive.
“The most enduring impression of Taiwan for me are how free the people are, the freedom of the economy, and the freedom of their elections and democracy,” Howard said. “Taiwan should and does serve as a beacon and model of success for not only Asian countries but truly the world.”
Howard credits Dr. Jean Abshire, professor of political science and international studies, with making him aware of the fellowship, and IU Southeast with encouraging him to broaden his horizons.
“IU Southeast prepared me to be a global thinker and leader,” Howard said. “Understanding global politics, cultures, and economics helped me excel in Taiwan and really contributed to my success in getting into the Mosaic Taiwan Fellowship.”