Tzu Chi University Welcomes Its First Post-Pandemic Mandarin Camp: Thai Teachers and Students Reap Significant Benefits


The summer break for schools in Thailand has ushered in an exciting opportunity. From April 19 to May 1, 2023, a total of thirty-three teachers and students from Chiangmai Tzu Chi School and Chiang Rai Municipal High School 6 traveled to the Chinese Language Center at Tzu Chi University in Taiwan to learn Mandarin.

The curriculum created for the 2023 Thai Mandarin Camp aimed to both enrich and engage, offering not only Chinese language courses but also cultural exchange activities. The program emphasizes practical language usage, providing opportunities for students to converse directly with peers from Tzu Chi High School, experience college courses, and interact with international students in Taiwan. In this way, participants not only learn Mandarin; they also forge new friendships with Taiwanese students.

Chinese Language Center Director Yvonne Lee, remarked, “The Thai Mandarin Camp, which began in 2013, was interrupted for three years, due to the pandemic. This year, we’re delighted to see its return as the first camp we’ve hosted since the pandemic.”

Through Tzu Chi University’s Indigenous Club, Thai teachers and students learned about Taiwan’s Indigenous tribes and greetings from Hualien’s six major groups. They quickly picked up phrases such as the Amis greeting “nga’ay ho” and the Atayal’s “Embiyax su hug?”, reciprocating with the Thai greeting “Sawasdee.” The club’s presentations of Indigenous Taiwanese songs and dances received enthusiastic responses from the Thai participants.

Participants also expressed their creativity through a facial makeup activity, inspired by traditional Chinese opera characters, which unexpectedly saw the appearance of Marvel’s superheroes. A student from Chiangmai Tzu Chi School commented, “I’ve seen opera on TikTok; this is my first time applying such makeup.” Another student said, “I love Spiderman and wanted to create something different from the others.”

In Thailand, Mandarin teaching is highly valued due to its importance in tourism and commercial activities. Besides students from Chiangmai Tzu Chi School, three students from Chiang Rai Municipal High School 6 also participated in the program., One of the students said, “During this time, I’ve spoken a lot of Chinese with my classmates. My Chinese has improved, and I’ve made friends from Taiwan and Thailand. Everyone is very friendly and delightful.”

The closing ceremony, presided over by Dean Guang-Huey Lin of the International College and Director Xinyi Hsiao of the Office of International Affairs, concluded with the presentation of completion certificates to all participants. Dean Lin highlighted the participants’ achievements, expressing her hope that they would return to Tzu Chi University.

For many of the students, this was their first experience abroad. Despite initial anxieties, they found the environment at the Chinese Language Center to be warm and welcoming. A student from Chiangmai Tzu Chi School said, “I was worried when I first arrived because my Chinese wasn’t very good, but having friends around made everything easier. I learned a lot about Taiwanese culture and definitely want to return to Taiwan in the future.” Another student added, “I really like the weather in Taiwan, and I’ve learned about Indigenous dances and hand-made thread books, two aspects of Taiwanese culture I didn’t know about before. I want to express my gratitude to our teachers.”