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WKU student selected to attend U.S.-China-Taiwan relations symposium

Paul “Francis” Wilson of Akron, Ohio, a freshman Honors College at WKU and Chinese Flagship Program student with majors in International Affairs and Photojournalism, has been selected as a student delegate to attend the 2016 Strait Talk Symposium at the University of California, Berkeley.

Paul "Francis" Wilson

Paul “Francis” Wilson

Wilson is one of 15 delegates chosen for the Symposium—five from mainland China, five from Taiwan and five from the United States.

Strait Talk is a nonpartisan, youth-focused academic program which aims to foster peaceful progress and constructive dialogue across the Taiwan Strait by educating, connecting, and empowering young leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait and the United States. The Symposium began Sunday (March 27) and concludes Saturday (April 2).

Dr. Timothy Rich, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at WKU, notes “how China and Taiwan interact in the future will play a crucial role not only in economic development in the region, but regional security. While many focus on the rise of China, Taiwan’s democratization and sense of national identity has unfortunately often been ignored.”

Dr. Rich finds the value of continued student engagement in this topic important.  “Francis has spent time on both sides of the strait and should benefit greatly from this opportunity,” he said.

These relationships and cultural appreciation are a large part of Wilson’s academic and co-curricular activities. Wilson, who studied Chinese for an academic year in Beijing after high school on a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship, has continued his Chinese linguistic and cultural studies at WKU through the Chinese Flagship Program.

Outside the classroom, Wilson is actively engaged in the 100 Thousand Strong Foundation as a student ambassador; has pioneered a WKU Project Pengyou chapter focused on person-to-person bridge-building for the betterment of U.S.-China relations; has interned at Next Media in Taipei, Taiwan; and worked as a journalist for the Confucius Institute on a recent study abroad trip to mainland China.

Wilson is proud to represent WKU at the Symposium and is eager to forge new connections with peer leaders while learning more of U.S.-China-Taiwan affairs. “It’s certainly a privilege and a pleasure to participate in this exchange between peoples,” he said.

About the Chinese Flagship Program at WKU: CFP is a federally-funded grant program for undergraduate students. Students begin the program with little to no exposure to Chinese language or culture with the goal of reaching a superior level of language proficiency by graduation. Students spend an intensive amount of time in language immersion courses during the semester and enroll in study abroad and study away programs during breaks. Their final capstone year is spent studying and completing an internship in China.

Contact: Jennifer Markin, (270) 745-2764

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