This December 12, Soochow University (“SU”) held the semester’s “Biking with the President” activity. This event is one of the meticulously planned events held every semester by the Office of International and Cross-Strait Academic Exchange and one which SU’s President Pan Wei-Ta considers a personal commitment to the students to attend. (Despite his tight schedule of late, he has always managed to find the time to attend and take in the scenery of Taiwan’s northern rivers with SU’s international students.) This time, over 200 international exchange students participated in the event, including students from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and China as well as local student volunteers from SU to help ensure the event was as smooth as possible. Other special guests in attendance were Professor Zhao Yao (Capital University of Economics and Business; Beijing, China), Professor Zhou Mi (Nankai University; Tianjin, China), and Professor Gong Kuang-xian(Fuzhou University; Fuzhou, China). T
he day started out with less-than-ideal weather (light drizzle), but all the students were undaunted, remaining in high spirits as they received rain gear provided by the event staff to start out on the day’s activities. This semester’s route enabled students to encounter some of the cultural and natural attractions Taipei has on offer, including the famous intertidal zones along its riverbanks. The students departed for the day’s first leg from the SU Waishuangsi campus main gate, passing through Zhishan Park along the Keelung River and on to Guandu Temple, Guandu Bridge, Hongshulin, and to the riverside area at Bali.
At noon the participants arrived for lunch at a popular restaurant in Bali (“The Old Fishing Village”). The President presided over the meal by first giving a small presentation on some of the popular local fauna that inhabit the riverbanks (such as the mudskippers and fiddler crabs) and common flora found in the wetlands (such as its ubiquitous mangroves), providing an introduction for the foreign students and professors alike to this rare ecological site found in the heart of Taipei. During the meal, staff from the Office of International and Cross-Strait Academic Exchange arranged a raucous Q & A session, while the students played rock-paper-scissors to decide who would join the President on stage. The student who emerged victorious was Han Jia-yan , an exchange student from Korea. On stage, she expressed her appreciation and happiness at the warmth and passion she’s been shown while in Taiwan.
Following the group meal, everyone proceeded to Bali Left Bank Park (八里左岸公園) to take in the scenery. By then, perhaps because of the rain earlier in the day, the clouds faded away to reveal beautiful blue skies for the duration of the event. Further out onto the beach, a number of the students split off into small groups to explore the riverside on their own.
This bike riding episode was one of the longer ones—45 km. Upon their return, it was clear from the students’ faces how tired they were, but they all made it despite the challenge. Many of them also commented on how interesting and diverse the sights were, and all said they would definitely come with their friends to do it again. The event itself was a collaboration of the Office of International and Cross-Strait Academic Exchange; the Office of Military Instruction; the Environmental Safety, Sanitation and General Management Division; and the Health and Counseling Center as well as the student service volunteers. We would like to commend all of these groups for working together to make this event a success and will also issue a “Certificate of Completion” to every participant to commemorate the event. And for our students, we at SU hope that this event is one of the many fond memories of their exchange experience, so that when they recall their time in Taiwan, it will immediately bring a smile to their face.