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Taiwan Tech's Flying Faculty at the Universidad Politecnica Taiwán Paraguay

"It has been such a rewarding experience!"

The Universidad Politecnica Taiwán Paraguay (UPTP), established in 2018 in Paraguay’s capital Asunción, is a transnational education project that introduces Taiwan’s successful technology education model to Paraguay. Courses at UPTP are taught by flying faculty from Taiwan Tech to ensure education quality and to prepare students for their 18-month stay in Taiwan in their third year of studies.This academic year, three young assistant professors, all of whom received their PhD-degrees from Taiwan Tech, have ventured out to teach at the UPTP campus. 


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Dr. Lincy Varghese from Tamil Nadu, India received her PhD degree fom the Taiwan Tech Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering in 2022. Her research interest are in the field of polymer chemistry and biopolymer membranes. Aa an Adjunct Assistant Professor at  UPTP, Lincy has been teaching introductory courses into Chemistry, Mechanics of Materials, as well as Chemistry Laboratory Practices.

Dr. Zelalem Legese Hailemariam, an Ethiopian national, has been appointed  Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering after having received received his PhD in Information Management in 2022. At UPTP, he has offered four courses, i.e. Introduction to Computer Networks, Computer Graphics, Data Structures, and Object-oriented Programming.

Dr. Jean-Raymond Fontin from Haiti graduated with a PhD from the Department of Industrial Management in 2022 which he joined as an Assistant Professor in the same year. Jean-Raymond specializes warehouse optimization and banking innovation. His courses at UPTP cover teaching courses in Operations Research, Industrial Accounting, and Probability Theory.


pOn 7 December 2022, the Office of international Affairs  (OIA coordinator Doris Tseng below on the right) met all three for an online interview to talk about their experiences.

Q: What were your reasons to accept the teaching assignment at UPTP?
We all felt that it is a great chance for aspiring university teachers to gather teaching experience in a new environment. Our professors at Taiwan Tech encouraged us to grasp this chance, so we went for it.

Lincy: I have been a Teaching Assistant before, but being responsible for a semester-length course in an undergraduate program at a university abroad is a new, challenging experience.


Q: You are familiar with the academic culture and students’ learning habits in Taiwan. What are, in your eyes, the similarities and differences, between Paraguayan and Taiwanese students’ learning habits?
Both,Taiwanese and Paraguayan students are really eager to learn, but there are differences in their approaches. Taiwanese students are more independent learners. They attend the lectures, and will go through the materials by themselves after class. Here in Paraguay, basically all the learning takes place in the classroom. One of the reasons for this is that UPTP students have classes all day long, up to 45 hours per week!

Zkey: Students here rely much more on what professors teach in the classroom. We have to provide detailed lecture notes with all our presentations, that’s different from courses at Taiwan Tech.


Q: What has been the biggest challenge with respect to teaching and daily life in Paraguay?
As for teaching, we need to devote a lot of time to class preparation and lab practice. Especially for afternoon classes, when students are really tired, it is often difficult to go along as planned. One has to find of innovative ways to catch students’ attention, for example, by coming up with daily life applications and concrete examples. Also, because the UPTP is a very young institution, it is not as well equipped as Taiwan Tech. You will need improvisation skills, resilience and imagination.

In terms of daily life, we are quite spoilt for convenience in Taipei. In Asunción, public transport is not that developed, so you mostly move around in taxis. Also, English is not widely spoken, not even at the international Airport, that’s a real challenge.

Q: What does this teaching stint at UPTP mean for your career? What are your most valuable experiences?
The teaching experience itself, the relationship with our students is very valuable to us. And working in another country definitely an asset for a professional career in any field. Adapting to a new environment, getting familiar with another academic culture, in short, the experience of diversity is very important these days.

Raymond: It is truly rewarding to see my students improving and growing. Their sense of achievement is a source of happiness for me.

Zkey: The teaching experience is exciting for me. Being a teacher is among the most rewarding, fulfilling, and challenging careers. I like being committed and responsible for my courses, and I am learning a lot through class preparation. My role is essential because of the impact I can have on the lives of the students that I teach.

pLincy: I also love the teaching experience, especially the laboratory classes. Because of the pandemic, students have only had online lab classes so far, so they have a lot of questions on the experiments that we are conducting. That is really interesting and inspiring for me!  

Q: Which advice would you give other Taiwan Tech faculty members who are thinking about joining the Taiwan Tech flying faculty at UPTP? 
We would really like to encourage Taiwan Tech faculty to come to Paraguay to teach at UPTP.  It is a very valuable experience and also an adventure to live in another country for some time.

Of course, when you go abroad you cannot expect everything to be the same as at Taiwan Tech. Taiwan Tech is a well-established, well-equipped university, while UPTP is still in the process of being set up. You have to be able to adapt and to improvise, but don’t expect that everything will be done your way.   

Zkey: If it was not for UPTP, how would I have had the chance to live in n Latin-American country or see the Iguassu Falls in Brazil? I want to encourage colleagues to go on this adventure. Come in with an open heart and mind to learning new things, and forming positive, authentic relationships with the students, staff, and whole UPTP community.

Raymond: It teaches you resilience, and is a very rewarding experience in general. Public safety is not as much an issue as I had imagined, and we are very well taken care of by the Taiwan Embassy and Taiwan Tech staff on campus. It is important not to isolate oneself, there are joint activities such as playing Padel (a kind of tennis, hugely popular in Spain and Latin American countries) with colleagues on Sundays. One can definitely have a good life here!

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National Day Reception at the Taiwan Embassy in Asunción Taiwan Tech faculty and adminsitrative staff posing after playing Padel


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