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Fostering the New Generation of Leaders—
The NTU Leadership Program Emphasizes Service to, and Care for Society

In order to demonstrate their learning results, the students of NTU's Leadership Program made a presentation of their achievements on December 28th, 2009 in the International Conference Room of the Main Library to which President Si-Chen Lee was invited to give a speech. Using "Stepping out of the comfort zone, and helping the needy without frontiers" as its slogan, the presentation won universal admiration. Dr. Si-Chen Lee said that, during the "Acceleration and Transformation: Fostering Excellent Talents for Taiwan" presentation held in Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall held on October 24 last year, Dr. Morris Chang, Chairman of TSMC made a speech on the "Social Significance of an excellent university," in which he emphasized that an ordinary university's mission was to foster "good talents", whereas an excellent university's mission was to foster |"leaders" for Taiwan.

Since there was no precedent with regard to how a leader can be cultivated, NTU's Leadership Program had to consult the experiences of the first class universities in the world. Take Oxford University, for example, Oxford was famous for cultivating Prime Ministers and members of Parliament for UK, and its oldest Merton College used "politics, philosophy, and economics" (PPE) as the basic courses for leadership cultivation. Similarly, the NTU Leadership Program garnered the courses and faculty in these areas to start the Program, plus placing great emphasis on service, concern for society, international outlook, empathy, and leadership skills, with a view toward cultivating leaders and pillars of society.

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Stepping out of the comfort zone, and helping the needy without frontiers

This year, 16 students from NTU's Leadership Program, faced the challenge of having to climb the Himalayas within 21 days with some friends from other schools who shared the same interest. They rendered service to village people who lived at the same height as Jade Mountain. By facing a challenge to the limits of their physical prowess and their endurance capability, they crushed the myth that they belonged to the "strawberry generation," unable to withstand any pressure. And they proved that the true spirit of leadership lay in rendering service to other people. This group of students, spent six months preparing their teaching materials, raising the appropriate funds, collecting local information, and strengthening their physical endurance. As a result, a cross county overseas service program was unfolded in the summer. While it was swelteringly hot in Taiwan, the Himalaya mountains were covered with deep snow. The students took a long and winding trip to the Himalayas, had to withstand cultural shock and the toil of the trip, but they all had a busy and fulfilling experience. In addition of having to cope with the threat of altitude sickness with the ever increasing height, the students cracked their brains to think of innovative ways where they could by pass their knowledge to local children. In essence, the students of the NTU Leadership Program trusted that, in order to cultivate leadership skills, they must first conquer the austere environments, and harbor the spirit of rendering service to others.

NTU is confident about cultivating leaders with diversified skills

Starting from academic year 2008, NTU initiated an inter-disciplinary curriculum called "Leadership Program". Many students applied to the Program for the first year, but only 25 students who had ample experience with student association and track records with service programs were accepted. Director of the Leadership Program, Dr. Chen-En Ko said: "The Leadership Program actively seeks to cultivate leaders in all fields for NTU. It aims to cultivate the students' leadership skills, international outlook, and spirit of service. We hope that the future leaders of Taiwan are equipped with leadership skills and charisma, plus a genuine concern for our society."

In order to implement the actual training for the students, in addition to classroom courses, the Program demanded the students to participate in enterprise internship programs, and teamwork commercial tests. For example, Miss Yi-Zhen Wu, a senior at the Department of Electrical Engineering and her team, organized a "smile week" campaign in campus, where they raised the creative works from over 40 writers, celebrities, artists and entrepreneurs for a charity sale. Miss Wu said: " The biggest achievement during the process is: we learned to communicate with different types of people. In addition of having to communicate with our peers and to accept different opinions, we had to convince many people of the older generation to share our philosophy. I am truly gratified to see that the activity has been brought to a successful end. And I am surprised to find out that I could do more than I expected."

Breaking physical limits to engage in dialogue with oneself

In August of last year, 16 students from NTU's Leadership Program bravely stepped out of their campus, and implemented the "Himalayas, community service and outdoor leadership training" project with members from the Taiwan Sports University, Tung-Hai University and the Family Support Center. This was the first time that the four units worked together on a project. Separate and apart from ordinary mountaineering activities, the participants had to work at remote mountainous villages the same height as Jade Mountain, where there was no phone, no computer, and even no flush toilets. The 16 students worked heartily together with other members, where they had to bear the challenges to the limits of their physical and mental capability, but they succeeded in using the funds they raised to repair the school dormitories, to repaint the walls, and to build fences for the local altars. They conquered the austere challenge.

Miss Wei-Chen, a senior from the Department of Economics, recalled, "When we decided to go to the Himalayas, in order to adjust to the local austere environments, we started a training course which demanded that we ran 60 kilometers in 30 days. Every morning at 7 a.m., we assembled for the run. And the girls, not to be undone by the boys, also gathered at the Athletic Room for weight training. Aside from increasing our physical prowess, the choice of gears was a big issue. We toured every sports gear shop in Taipei, seeking to shop for gears that would reduce the dangers of climbing high mountains. In addition to self-training, we had to gather local information and solicit sponsorship from various agencies so as to effectively enforce our program." Dr. Yung-Yaw Chen, a teacher for the Leadership Program, said: "The difficulties faced by the students during the implementation of this program only helped them understand the importance of leadership skills and teamwork, allowed them to see the different facets of society. In addition to enhancing cultural and international perspectives, they also enabled the students to understand one thing, that the success of any project stemmed from the support and help of many people. "

Chinese version