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Beauty in Chaos: Teaching Mandarin in India
In 2011 NTHU established the Taiwan Education Center (TEC) to teach both Mandarin and Chinese culture at Indian universities. One of the veteran teachers of the program has recently returned to Taiwan to report on her experience.
 
Huang Ping has been teaching Mandarin in India for over two years, and is currently serving as teacher and director of the TEC program at O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU). Huang states that the emphasis of TEC is on teaching Mandarin, and then using language as a springboard to introduce Chinese and Taiwanese culture. For example, in addition to activities marking the Mid-autumn Festival, National Day, and Chinese New Year, the TEC program at JGU also holds film screenings and talks on how these holidays or festivals are celebrated in Taiwan.
 
Huang points out that while many Indian students understand the increasing importance of Greater China in the world marketplace, they are also aware of the unresolved tensions and ongoing border disputes between India and the People’s Republic of China. As a result, Indians are naturally more favorably disposed to Taiwan. Most of those learning Mandarin at the TEC are students and teachers at the university hosting the Center.
 
Even after two years, Huang concedes that she is still getting used to living in India, especially the highly flexible and unpredictable way in which many matters are typically handled, which can leave newcomers feeling rather perplexed. But Huang has learned to appreciate the beauty in the chaos. For example, when she visited Kashmir she was deeply impressed by the majestic scenery of this troubled region. Indeed, for Huang the staggering cultural and ethnic diversity of India—22 official languages at last count—is one of the nation’s greatest resources.
 
Huang’s advice for anyone thinking about going to India to teach Mandarin is to first make sure that you are fully prepared in three areas: health, English proficiency, and adaptability. In reflecting on the past two years, Huang is struck not only by the passion her students have for Mandarin, but also by how much she herself has learned about India and its fascinating culture.
 
NTHU was commissioned by the Ministry of Education in 2011 to establish the TEC in India, and beginning in 2013 further support has been provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. TEC currently operates five programs at the following institutions of higher education: the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras; and Jamia Millia Islamia, JGU, Amity University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, all in and around New Delhi. TEC currently has eight Mandarin teachers, and to date has provided Mandarin training to over 2,000 students while promoting higher education in Taiwan.
 
Celebrating Chinese New Year at TEC.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at TEC.

 TEC students at a sky lantern festival.

TEC students at a sky lantern festival.

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