Contact: Jim Gavin
(Indianapolis) May 22, 2008 - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita returned today from leading a delegation of fellow secretaries of state to the Taiwanese Presidential Inauguration of Ma Ying-jeou in Taipei this week.
Leading the delegation of his peers was among Secretary Rokita's latest duties as president for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). Prior to the election, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution praising Taiwan's democracy and urged other countries to dispatch delegations to witness the election.
It is important that we recognize and applaud the smooth transition of power to the new president in Taiwan, said Rokita.
As a cornerstone of freedom in Asia, Taiwan is successfully demonstrating that democracy works. I was honored to represent not only NASS and chief state elections officials across the nation, but also 6.2 million Hoosiers to our friends in Taiwan.
Indiana has a very strong cultural and economic relationship with Taiwan. In 1979, Indiana established a sister-state relationship with Taiwan Province. In addition, there are numerous sister-city relationships between Taiwanese and Hoosier cities. The City of Taipei, where the presidential inauguration took place, has been a sister-city of Indianapolis since 1978.
Also while in Taiwan, Secretary Rokita met with representatives from Indiana-based Eli Lilly & Co. Earlier this year, the Secretary was invited to speak at Indiana's first-ever leadership for international education summit, which was co-sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education, Longview Foundation and Eli Lilly. The Summit raised awareness among stakeholders of the need to connect Indiana's international education and economic development goals in an effort to position Indiana as a leader in producing a globally aware and economically competitive workforce.
In 2004, Secretary Rokita was instrumental in organizing the first international teacher exchange between Indiana and Taiwan. A delegation of Indiana school leaders, including the state's director of international education, was hosted by the Taiwan Ministry of Education for the 2008 American Superintendents/Educators' Project on Chinese Language Teacher Recruitment and Sister School Partnerships. Three Indiana school districts will host visiting teachers from Taiwan for the 2008 - 2009 school year to teach Chinese language and culture.
Thanks to this ongoing framework for international exchange, Indiana students and school communities are benefiting from the teaching of Mandarin Chinese language and culture, said Dr. Suellen Reed, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, who led the creation of a mutually beneficial exchange of teachers and school leaders and school to school partnerships between Indiana and Taiwan.
Enrollment in Chinese language classes has increased 334% in the last two years, and Indiana is the first state to adopt grade-level standards specific to Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages for all grades K-12.
Secretary Rokita's trip to Taiwan was paid for by the Republic of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.