My name is Ben, and I'm from Sonoma, California.  For the next ten months I will be living in in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with my host brother Sid and my host mom Jennie. I'm so excited to be here with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth. I was first introduced to the program three years ago when one of my old high school friends was granted a NSLI-Y scholarship to study Russian for a year. Occasionally, our local newspaper would publish articles about his adventures abroad, what he was doing, and, after his return, how the program had given him new direction as well as a newfound determination and focus in his studies. When the time came for me to apply to colleges, I remembered what my friend had done two years earlier, so I gave NSLI-Y my consideration. The more I read, the more interesting the program sounded, until eventually it became my top choice.


For me, NSLI-Y’s iEARN Taiwan program provides so many amazing opportunities - a much needed break in my formal education, the possibility of discovering the direction I wish to pursue in the future, and most importantly the chance to do something I've always dreamed of: to become bilingual and experience firsthand a culture that has always fascinated me. This is my first time ever studying Chinese, but during my time here I hope to become proficient in Mandarin and expand my worldview by observing and living in this new culture.


My plans for the future are still unclear. I have a very broad range of interests which makes choosing a path difficult, but I am hoping that my experiences this year will guide me to choose a fulfilling one.







My name is Carly and I'm a life-long Alaskan. I participated on an exchange through Rotary International during my sophomore year of high school to Chumphon, Thailand and have since fallen in love with Asian culture. Before that, my parents decided it was important for their children to see the world so I have traveled extensively with them during multiple summers. After Thailand I had a wonderful opportunity to go back and see more of South East Asia. I was also able to travel to Turkey. If there is an opportunity to go out of the country and to learn about other cultures and languages, trust me--I will find it!


I am fluent in three languages (Thai, Spanish, English) and hope to eventually add Chinese as my fourth. I have no prior knowledge of Mandarin Chinese but I am starting to decipher the language from gibberish to actual sounds and words. I live in Gangshan District and take the bus to Wenzao College. I do live relatively far away from school, but my host family makes it worth it, as I have a wonderful host mom and host sister. I look forward to improving my Chinese language ability, learning about Taiwanese culture, and getting to know my host family better. Some of my goals for this year include developing a better understanding of Buddhism, learning how to perform a traditional tea ceremony, and studying the art of calligraphy.


After returning to the U.S for a short-lived Alaskan summer (and a job, I hope), I will embark again to Lugano, Switzerland to attend Franklin College Switzerland, where I plan to study International Relations and perhaps Italian!





Hello! My name is Katy and I am from Churubusco, Indiana. I recently graduated from Churubusco High School after spending my junior year abroad in Denmark. In America, I served as president of Key Club, a member of Rotary, Yearbook Club, French Club, Rotex, HOBY Indiana, and took piano lessons. Ever since my year in Denmark, I’ve been struck with wanderlust, and have researched opportunities and scholarships to help fuel my curiosity of all things “foreign!”


I decided to be a NSLI-Y student after applying for the summer on a whim, hoping to spend some time abroad and learn a new language (again!) before heading off to college. As it turns out, I got so excited about the NSLI-Y program that I changed my application to apply for a year-long program. I’m currently studying Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan, and couldn’t be happier with the way my gap year is developing!


I am very interested in career prospects with the State Department, so this program instantly piqued my interest. I’ve always known that I would work and study internationally, as I (and any other exchange student) know that living abroad provides opportunities that help you develop your maturity and flexibility as you learn more about yourself, your host country, and even your own country.


I currently live in Zuoying Distrcit of Kaohsiung and attend Wenzao Ursiline College of Foreign Languages. Going to school in Taiwan is so challenging and so much fun! I have a great host family, goofy friends, and am having the time of my life. Even though most of the time I have no idea what I’m eating, where I’m going, or what people are saying about me (at least not yet--I hope to speak at least intermediate Chinese before leaving Taiwan), I am so content here! I hope to continue my study of Chinese next year as I begin my undergraduate studies (I am currently undecided on which school I will attend) and explore many exciting internationally-focused majors.





My name is Christian and I'm from a small town in Missouri. I just graduated high school and am currently taking a gap year to study Chinese here in Taiwan!


I spent my junior year abroad in Norway, so I'm all about the exchange student experience. I love learning languages and discovering new cultures, so when I heard of the NSLI-Y program I knew it was what I had to do next. I studied Spanish for four years in high school and of course studied Norwegian while in Norway, so I'm ready to start working on Chinese, which I have never studied before.


In the future I plan to possibly work in some sort of government area or go into law or politics - something of that nature that allows me to apply my language skills on a daily basis. I'm ready now to start diving into this new culture and see what life in Taiwan throws at me!





大家好, readers! My name is Hunter, also known as 江荷婷 (Jiang He Ting) or Big River Elegant Lotus. I hail from Jacksonville, North Carolina and am thusly the second NC native to go to Taiwan with NSLI-Y. Unlike my predecessor, however, prior to arriving in Taiwan I had no experience whatsoever with the Chinese language and struggled to even choke out the most basic greeting. Fortunately, we're all Chinese beginners here so I don't feel so bad about starting from square one. 

Like many of my peers, I have studied abroad once before-- I spent my junior year of high school in a place called Ramnicu Valcea, Romania. I learned a lot about myself from that experience, and look forward to learning even more in Taiwan! Also like my peers, Chinese will not be my second language but is instead the fourth that I have studied. In addition to English, I am proficient in both Spanish and Romanian-- language learning and international travel are my great callings in life, and I intend to make every bit of this fantastic experience count while I'm here.