Taiwanese students study Olympia’s ecosystem during Friendship Tour

A group of students from Taiwan are visiting the Olympia area this week to learn more about the Puget Sound region’s water and ecosystem.

The Evergreen State College has been hosting 18 undergraduate students plus seven faculty from National Sun Yat-sen University since Tuesday. The group is part of the Taiwanese university’s Department of Marine Environment and Engineering. While in town, the group has seen local landmarks like the State Capitol Campus, but also environmental staples such as Tumwater Falls, the fish hatchery, and the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.

The trip has been dubbed the first Friendship Tour by Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum, who teaches public administration at the college and is spearheading the effort. Buxbaum told The Olympian the tour is intended to build relationships between the two schools – and nations.

The group even got a history lesson about Olympia’s drinking water source at McAllister Springs, and learned about how the city will transition to a new water source in October with the opening of the McAllister Wellfield.

“You are arriving at a very historic time for Olympia,” Buxbaum told the group Thursday morning at City Hall.

The rest of the group’s itinerary this week includes a tour of Evergreen’s shellfish garden and a visit to Mount Rainier before moving on to a Seattle leg of their trip.

“At Evergreen, we’re interested in international exposure,” said faculty member Andy Corn, who accompanied the group.