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University of Missouri

Connecting Flights

Doctoral student from Taiwan finds a home at Mizzou.

Hsiu-Hui Chen

Hsiu-Hui Chen, M Ed ’09, first learned about Mizzou in her native Taiwan through the College of Education’s Cross-Cultural Immersion Program. She then returned to her homeland as a cross-cultural assistant. Photo by Rachel Coward.

Hsiu-Hui Chen has always made connections — even when they might not seem obvious.

During an internship as a chemistry instructor in her native Taiwan, Chen realized that the lab hours in solitude weren’t for her. So when she heard about Mizzou counseling psychology students visiting her alma mater, National Taiwan Normal University, she sought them out.

“I like learning about how things happen,” Chen says. “I think chemistry and counseling psychology are similar in that you learn about processes, but my passion is helping people.”

Puncky Heppner shares that passion. A Curators Professor of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, Heppner brought students to Taiwan through the Bidirectional Cross-Cultural Immersion Program. The program promotes exchanges and research collaboration between Taiwanese and American students.

After talking with the traveling Tigers, Chen was sold.

She left Taichung, population 2.6 million, and arrived at Mizzou in 2007. After earning a master’s degree in counseling psychology, Chen enjoyed MU enough to stick around for a doctorate (she’ll graduate in 2014). All told, she participated in the cross-cultural program twice as a student and once as an assistant when she helped facilitate the experience for her American classmates.

“Through the program, I have felt the Americanized me and the Taiwanese me connect internally,” Chen says.

She has come to enjoy Columbia’s festivals and cultural landscape, but she admits to missing her 4-month-old niece and 2-year-old extrovert nephew.

“He likes to sing and dance for me on FaceTime,” says Chen, referring to Apple’s video chat tool that has become another invaluable connection. “He’ll say, ‘I learned a new song,’ and then it’s show time for him.”