Atchison County local Amber Kelly was one of three students chosen as part of the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s annual Taiwan Agricultural Youth Exchange Program. The program ran from Dec. 4-10.
According to a press release about the program, the students were selected by the KSDA based on “their exceptional leadership and communication skills, appreciation for international travel and passion for Kansas agriculture.” The trip was coordinated by the KSDA and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Denver, Colorado.
Kelly said she found out about the program through one of her professors at Kansas State University and applied to learn more about America’s relation with other countries, specifically in agriculture, and to learn about other peoples’ views of the U.S.
During the trip, Kelly said they toured two different facilities, including Green Vines, a sprout-growing company, and an orchid facility that grew flowers. Much of the week, however, was spent at the National Taichung Agricultural Senior High School, where they got to sit in on the classes.
“The classes were very hands on, and the students are really driven to learn,” Kelly said. “All of them were just so excited to show us Americans their culture and how they get in and go for things.”
For Kelly, the best part of the trip was the food, particularly a dumpling restaurant in which they were given 10 courses of different kinds of dumplings, including a vegetable one served in chili sauce.
Kelly said the hardest part had been the first day, when they were learning how to communicate in a different language.
“We had a group of locals who met us at the airport. They spoke a little English, so it was mostly just us trying to understand hand signals,” Kelly said.
This got better, however, as the week progressed.
“The people of Taiwan were so welcoming and so excited that Americans had come to visit,” Kelly said. “It ended up becoming a really cool, fun experience.”