This year’s graduation ceremony at West Point was unique due to the measures put in place to contain COVID-19. For the first time since 1977, the ceremony was not held at the school’s football stadium, Michie Stadium, because the venue was not large enough to seat all graduates with social distancing. Instead, the ceremony was held on an outdoor parade ground with all 1,107 graduating cadets seated on chairs placed six feet (two meters) apart. No audience members were allowed to attend, including family and friends of the graduates. President Donald Trump attended the ceremony in person and delivered the commencement address. However, rather than the traditional practice of having each cadet walk onto the stage to shake the President’s hand, this year the cadets simply saluted him from below the stage while their names were called.
Since 2014, the U.S. Military Academy has selected visiting Chinese language instructors primarily from Fu Jen University in Taiwan, but the program has been broadened to include instructors from National Tsing-Hua University this year. Officials at West Point have praised the high caliber of these Taiwanese visiting scholars, applauding them for possessing the “quality, maturity, and discipline…[that are] exactly the preparation that young scholars participating in this program need.”
West Point is one of the leading institutions of higher education in the United States, and its graduates go on to become preeminent leaders in the U.S. military, government, and business. Thus, the Ministry of Education strongly values the collaboration between West Point and universities in Taiwan, providing Chinese instructors who not only train American cadets to acquire foreign language skills, but also help to shape the minds of these future leaders.