The University of Iowa

Student Spotlight: Siau-Tong Ding

November 12th, 2019

As part of International Education Week 2019, Siau-Tong Ding is one of seven University of Iowa students chosen by a committee of students to be recognized for their leadership and engagement in international education on campus and abroad

Siau-Tong Ding has actively participated in a wide range of programs on campus, including Friends Without Border and Bridging Domestic and Global Diversity program. She has also volunteered for the Building Our Global Community student panel to help faculty and staff learn more about international student experiences, joined the International Student Advisory Board and was elected as the secretary of ISAB to advocate for international students for the 2019 - 2020 academic year, participated in the president's leadership class, and much more. Tong has been active in participating in international education experiences in her first year on campus and has shown incredible promise to make a bigger impact on campus in the future.

“Studying abroad in Iowa helped me realize that there are people from all walks of life and that everyone deserves respect and should be celebrated.”

Name: Siau-Tong Ding
Field of study: anthropology (BA) and environmental policy and planning (BA)
Hometown: Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

What experiences/organizations/programs have you contributed to your international education?


Participant in International Student Panel

Undergraduate research assistant in European Archaeology Lab

Member of President’s Leadership Class

Volunteer at Office of the State Archaeologist

Volunteer at the 2018 Iowa Organic Conference

Volunteer at North Liberty Food Pantry

Volunteer at UI Student Garden

Member of Friends Without Borders/Global Buddies Program

Member of Friends of International Students


International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), secretary 

Executive board of Anthropology Club

Member of Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society


Bridging Domestic and Global Diversity Program

University Honors Program

Underrepresented Students in Sustainability mentor program


International Distinction in Education Award for international students

What is the most valuable thing that you have learned through your international education experiences?

The most valuable thing that I have learned through my international education experiences is the ability to be independent. Being here in a foreign country by myself, I had to learn to navigate a whole new culture and system very different from my own. It’s not always easy, but when I look back, I find that my horizons are much broader, and I am much more open-minded than before. My problem-solving skills have also become much better. My parents are thousands of kilometers away from me, so I have to figure everything out by myself. Not only academics but also everyday things such as cooking, cleaning, paying bills, transportation, managing my money and bank account, lease renewals for my apartment, communicating with my roommate, etc.

If you had one message to pass on your fellow classmates about international education, what would it be? 

The world we live in today changes rapidly. With the advancement of technology such as the Internet, it is no longer as difficult as before to learn about other cultures around the world. However, I have to say, even though we can learn about the world through the Internet, it is a completely different experience when you study abroad and immerse yourself in a foreign culture in person. Studying abroad helped me broaden my horizons and learn about myself as a person. It also helped me realize that there are people from all walks of life and that everyone deserves respect and should be celebrated. Studying abroad also helped me build a more global perspective on how I see things. If I had not chosen to study abroad, I likely would have a much more limited view on certain issues due to the lack of different perspectives I would not have been exposed to.