This paper contains reflections on my stay in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China as a Fulbright Senior Scholar from May to July 2015.
Because the Fulbright Scholar Award is prestigious in supporting activities and projects that promote educational exchange and international understanding, I have been able to identify and collect data and collaborate with researchers and business managers in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. Since my research topic focuses on mergers and acquisitions among companies in these three places, researchers and data in this area are scattered in multiple disciplines (e.g., business/management, political science, and sociology). It is challenging to conduct research in three different locations within three months, however, it is also extremely worthwhile to exchange ideas with people who are doing similar research or who are conducting business with real experience.
During my stay, I gave guest lectures to graduate students (approximately 60 students and 10 faculty members) where I shared my prior and ongoing research projects. I was also able to serve as a discussant and presenter giving an oral presentation in one international conference (Asia Academy of Management). Several comments and insights that people shared with me open new perspectives on my research and understanding of local communities. With more ideas on the way, I look forward to continuing my research in the near future.
I had many positive experiences during my stay in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Hangzhou. Although these three places have a shared Chinese culture, these cities have unique historical backgrounds and paths behind their development. During my stay, I spent time visiting local museum and sites that informed me about the past and the present of these three cities/countries. The Fulbright research grant gave me a wonderful opportunity to know these places deeper and to appreciate their current achievements than my previous shorter visits. In addition, it is the people and their kindness that I will always remember. In particular, people in Taiwan are so warm and polite that I feel almost addicted to asking for help. Furthermore, I have often received questions about US culture and cultural differences between Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. These conversations continued throughout my time in these three places, and they have sparked further mutual understanding. For instance, I noticed that people in China are not used to saying “thank you” and “please” to each other. I was once told to stop saying these words because people in China feel distant among each other by using these words. On the contrary, people in Taiwan consider these words dearly, so I am free to use “please” and “thank you” a lot in every conversation. Another cultural difference exists in the preference of public transportation. The MRT is available at each location, and it is highly recommended to take the MRT in Taipei and Hong Kong. However, the best way to get around the city in China is to use “app for taxi service” software on your cell phone.
To conclude, this has been a rich and fulfilling event in my research journey. My experiences on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have been entirely positive, and I have made friends among the faculty and students. I feel that I have been a good ambassador for Fulbright, the United States, and my home institution. I only wish I had more time to explore other cultural places in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong.