Bi-Directional Cross-Cultural Immersion Program


In 2005 the Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology (ESCP) Department and the University of Missouri (MU) signed a formal agreement to promote student exchanges and research collaboration with the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling (EPC) at the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU).
TaipeiThe purposes of the Bidirectional Cross-Cultural Immersion Program (BCCIP) trip to Taiwan were three-fold: (a) to promote cross-cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills by providing a short but intense experience living and studying in another culture; (b) to promote personal and professional cross-cultural relationships among students and faculty; and (c) to establish a long-term professional collaboration between the University of Missouri (MU) and National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU). Click here for more pictures about Taiwan

The BCCIP is an excellent example of promoting students’ learning through cross-cultural professional collaboration. The counseling psychology program at NTNU has a very distinguished history, and is well known for its innovative training and outstanding faculty that are leaders in Southeast Asia. Similarly, the counseling psychology program at MU has just celebrated 50 years of continuous accreditation and is widely regarded as one of the top training and research programs in the U.S. These two top ranked counseling psychology programs, joined hands to form the first bi-directional cross-cultural immersion program in the field.

In August 2005, Dr. Lifei Wang led 13 graduate students from the EPC Department for a 10-day cultural immersion at MU. Through the leadership of Drs. Heppner and Flores as well as Yi-Jiun Lin and Pius Nyutu, we arranged a broad array of professional, social, and cultural experiences for the students. Overall, the students reported the immersion experience to be a very positive and powerful experience. More information and Pictures

In January 2007, the CMRTC Directors (Dr. Puncky Heppner and Dr. Lisa Flores) led a group of thirteen faculty and students for a cultural immersion program at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taiwan for the BCCIP. To prepare the group for this cultural immersion experience, a seminar course was provided and taught by Yi-Jiun Lin and Chia-Lin Tsai under the supervision of Dr. Puncky Heppner. The BCCIP was a great success with a wide range of positive outcomes such as (a) promoting cross-cultural sensitivity, (b) enhancing self-awareness in relation to cultural contexts, (c) acquiring knowledge and appreciation of Chinese culture, and (d) increasing cross-cultural skills. More information and Pictures

In October 2007, Dr. Lee-Chou Chen and Dr. Lifei Wang led a second group of graduate students from the EPC Department for a 14-day immersion at MU. Each of the NTNU students was paired up with at least one MU graduate student who served as their buddies and interacted with them in a variety of ways. As a result, the BCCIP MU trip not only allowed the NTNU students opportunities to learn about the U.S. cultures and counseling psychology development at MU and in the states, it also led to creating learning opportunities for the MU ESCP students to gain more awareness and knowledge about Taiwanese cultures, people, and its counseling development without leaving the country. A lot of students described the cross-cultural experience as an irreplaceable one and has significantly impacted them in many ways, such as their worldview and educational and career pursuit. More information and Pictures

In January 2009, the CMRTC Director (Dr. Puncky Heppner) led a group of seventeen faculty and students for a cultural immersion program at the National Taiwan Normal University in Taiwan for the BCCIP. To prepare the group for this cultural immersion experience, a seminar course was provided and taught by Hung Chiao under the supervision of Dr. Puncky Heppner. During the trip, the group participated in a wide range of professional, cultural and personal immersion activities, such as attending professional lectures, visiting a college counseling center, visiting elementary schools, visiting temples, night markets, interacting with NTNU students, living in local family, and making professioanl presentations. The BCCIP was a great success with a wide range of positive outcomes. Please read more blog entries from Jan 2009 BCCIP trip: One of the gorup members shared:”As our time here draws to a close, I have been thinking a lot about what I will take away from this immersion experience. One element that stands out, is my increased awareness of how culture influences almost everything we do personally and professionally. For example, through the connections I’ve made here on a personal level as well as the professional classes, I feel I now have a greater understanding of how personal relationships are central to the people of Taiwan and the practice of psychotherapy here.” [P. G.] More information and Pictures

This semester, the EPC faculty and students from NTNU (located in Taipei, northern Taiwan) are very excited about hosting and organizing another reciprocal immersion experience for MU students; for more information about the department see: The BCCIP will involve a wide range of professional activities, activities during past BCCIPs included: (a) lectures offered by NTNU faculty on a range of current professional issues in counseling in Taiwan, (b) on-site visits to explore first-hand an array of professional counseling activities in Taiwan (e.g., University Counseling Center, Teacher Chang (a famous community counseling center), a private practice group, an elementary school counseling center, and (c) potential visits to a hospital to learn about health psychology interventions, and the internationally known Mandarin Language Center, etc.

A variety of cultural activities will also provide additional glimpses into Taiwanese culture, past BCCIP held tours to the world famous National Palace Museum (which houses some of the best examples of Chinese art and culture over thousands of years), the Native Taiwanese Museum, Jade Market (where you can buy loads of jade products), antique markets, the varied and colorful night markets (including Snake Alley), Tai-chi demonstrations, the spectacular Grand Hotel, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and the awesome Lungshan Temple (as well as other temples). Participants will also have many opportunities to eat delicious and authentic Chinese food (quite different from typical Chinese food in the US restaurants), to see a wider array of Chinese art objects, to shop, and of course to interact with a wide range of people in Taiwan.

In addition, unstructured time will be available for exploration and additional immersion experiences.  The array of possible cultural activities and nightlife is vast.  In short, the experience will provide a multitude of professional and cultural activities; participants will receive an excellent overview of counseling in Taiwan as well as up close opportunities to learn about social, historical, cultural, and political issues about Taiwan.

To help participants to receive maximal benefit from the experience, the BCCIP is providing a seminar in the fall semester of 2012 to prepare participants with basic cultural background and information, as well as small-group discussions during the two-week immersion to process and learn from the experience.


The seminar will be meeting once a week during the Fall semester 2012 to provide participants with an introduction to the geography, history, economic and political arena of Taiwan as well as Chinese culture and a basic introduction to the language (to help participants “make it” on the streets).

On-site Discussion Groups

During the two-week immersion, regular times will be arranged for discussion in small groups to process the wide array of cognitive and affective reactions to the experience.

Number of Participants

This group of participants include 17 participants from the ESCP Department.

Past coordinators: Puncky Heppner, Ph.D. and Kenneth Wang, Ph.D.

Current Coordinator: SONIA DHALIWAL, PSY.D.

Anticipated Costs

Note: The costs below are based on an estimate from our first BCCIP in Taiwan and considered to be maximum costs.

  1. Airfare will be the largest expense, approximately $900–$1400, depending on the availability of group rates, etc.
  2. Lodging will be minimal, approximately $10-15 a night living in a student residence hall. There is a chance there could be opportunities to live with a host family, which would eliminate these costs as well as greatly enhance the learning opportunities.
  3. Miscellaneous organizational expenses, $200.
  4. Although most meals will be the responsibility of the participants, the costs are relatively inexpensive; a few meals will likely be provided by NTNU. Estimated costs averaging $10/day for around $120, but most likely lower.
  5. Minimal transportation costs around Taipei and surrounding area, estimated to be around $50.
  6. Entrance fees to museums, etc., anticipated around $25.
  7. Personal costs, shopping etc.

Maximum Total Estimated Costs (excluding personal shopping costs): $1415 to $1975.

Questions about BCCIP

Please Contact Dr. Puncky Heppner via email (

Previous Photos
BCCIP Aug 2005

BCCIP Aug 2005

BCCIP Aug 2005

BCCIP Jan 2007

BCCIP Jan 2007

BCCIP Jan 2007

BCCIP Oct 2007

BCCIP Oct 2007

BCCIP  Oct 2007

BCCIP Jan 2009

BCCIP Jan 2009

BCCIP Jan 2009 Video on touring Taiwan: