Pioneer Spotlight: Mei Reeder
Mei Reeder, director of the Confucius Institute and originally from Taiwan, moved to the United States in the fall of 1992 and started working at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the fall of 2008. She is the recipient of the University of Wisconsin System’s 2015 Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award.
What is your favorite thing about UW-Platteville?
I really like the setting, especially in the Midwest. I have been to other states and many other universities. I like it here because it is a college town and I grew up with the exciting idea of that. It’s a little different but after being here for so long it’s a great environment. You get to experience culture, and people are very friendly and open to learning about other cultures and very hospitable.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I have so many examples but I will only pick a few. In fall 2013 we launched credit-bearing Mandarin courses through the foreign language department, and their support was extremely helpful in launching these classes. We also host the annual Spring Festival in February and it attracts over 400 people. We work with different faculty on campus to also put on culture-based forums that open eyes to various cultures. To see students learn about new things is beyond rewarding.
What are some of the goals that you have set short term and long term for the Confucius Institute?
Short term we hope to continue what we are doing now, more credit-bearing, different departments, trying to get instructors from our partner university in China to help develop and teach credit-bearing courses. Long term we hope to fade into the strategic plan of the university. We hope to gradually develop this Confucius Institute in the status of an Asia/China study center. And to also fulfill the leadership’s vision. It would help students, faculty and the community with us working so closely with international studies. We have a lot of potential in our area and we want to see it continue to be successful.
What is your favorite part about working with students?
Students are very vibrant at this university. I think the misconception I received as a foreigner from another country, though now I am a citizen, was that students are immersed in their own world. But here, I find that students are accepting of other cultures once introduced to it. They are not narrow minded; they want to learn and talk to people from other countries. Developing programs for the Confucius Institute we are international focused, and it is fun to see students open their eyes to Chinese culture.
What are some things you enjoy outside of work?
I really love reading and exercising, jogging, spending time with my family. We love biking together in town on long trips. We also just bought a new puppy so it is a new experience for my family of four. I spend a majority of free time writing my dissertation until next year so that is a major part of my life currently. Hopefully next summer I can develop more personal interests.
Interview conducted by Sydney Bend, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications.