Western Faces: ‘Chang’-ing with the times: Adviser loves interactions

Lynn Steller

Not many people need more than one hand to count the number of countries they’ve visited. But Yating Chang is different.

Chang, the study abroad adviser, needs almost five hands to count where she has been.

At Western, Chang spends her time helping students perfect their study abroad experiences. She helps tailor programs to fit each student’s needs.

She said she is familiar with the field and experienced with encountering new culture, as is evident in her wide travel resume. She said her background is what helps her work with students to make their experiences better.

“You can see this drastic change in a student after a study abroad. They have this glow showing me they are more self-confident,” Chang said. “It’s something I really enjoy.”

Born in Taiwan, she moved to Singapore at age 10. Since then Chang has visited or lived in 21 countries, settling in the United States. She first went to Indiana University as an exchange student because she liked to travel.

“You have to make a daily decision on your work and your life,” Chang said.

She said that her decision to work at Western was a result of her time at the University of Oregon, where she graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Chang said she worked at University of Oregon’s study abroad office while attending school. She said it helped her decide to pursue it as a full-time job.

Chang learned of an opening at Western through an online job registry and was one of three scheduled to interview for the position.

She said she was supposed to be on a plane headed for her interview on Sept. 11, 2001, but was forced to wait another month.

When she first received her acceptance letter, Chang said she thought of chicken.

“I wondered, ‘Why am I going to a place with a lot of chicken?'” Chang said, referring to the restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But her concerns about chicken didn’t stop her. She said she viewed coming here as another cross-cultural experience. She said she loves to travel because she learns something everywhere she goes.

“The world is like the Grand Canyon,” she said. “You stand there and realize how minute you are.”

But traveling has its drawbacks. Chang said she misses her family. They live all over the world, so she only sees them once a year.

Chang also does more than meets the eye here at Western.

She teaches one class each semester in addition to her full-time job in the study abroad office. Chang said she likes to apply what she has learned and pass it on to students.

This semester she is teaching an introductory course in psychology. She said that she would love to teach more if she had time.

Bowling Green senior Stephen Hopper has worked with Chang for several years. He has gone on two study abroad programs and is currently Chang’s assistant study abroad adviser.

Hopper said Chang puts her psychology major to work. He said is a good communicator who treats students and faculty with the same type of respect.

“She has helped me gain insight into international education and international studies,” Hopper said. “She is eager to try new things and change with the time.”

One piece of advice Chang gives to students is to immerse themselves in a different culture.

“I always challenge students not to eat in McDonald’s,” she said.

Reach Lynn Steller at [email protected]