LEAP Students Cross Borders and Promote International Cultural Exchange



New online student Mikaela Merrill Hill is currently living and working in Hualien Taiwan with her husband while working on her LEAP coursework


One of the many reasons I love my job doing communications work for the LEAP Institute for the Arts, is that I have the opportunity to speak with our students. I know I say this a lot, but LEAP students come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and often times are sprinkled across the globe, hungry to use their education in arts management to promote cross-cultural. Our students are truly unique.

One such student is online student Mikaela Merrill Hill. Mikaela currently lives in Hualien, Taiwan with her husband while she works on her Master’s of Arts Leadership and Cultural Management with the LEAP program. Due to the time difference, we weren’t able to speak via telephone. But, Mikaela was kind enough to answer some of my questions surrounding her background, why she chose LEAP and where she hopes to go next!

Where do you live?

I am currently living in Hualien, Taiwan! My husband and I have been living here for over a year and we love it! I am originally from Denver, Colorado so Taiwan has been a huge change. We are here for my husband, who is doing a cancer research internship. We have loved embracing the Taiwanese culture and learning about what it is like in Asia!

What is your background in?

I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Ballet and a minor in Chinese from Brigham Young University.

What do you do now?

While living in Taiwan, I am teaching English in the local schools as well as online. I also teach Ballet here in the local studios. I LOVE teaching ballet here! It has been one of my favorite experiences living abroad!

Why did you choose LEAP?

In 2016, my dance company had the opportunity to tour China. I fell in love with Chinese people, culture, their form of art and the dedication they have to their traditional forms of dance. That experience changed my life! Since then I have wanted to promote cultural collaboration and international relations through the arts between our 2 countries. Originally, I thought I would get a master’s degree in international relations but during my research I happened upon the LEAP program and was completely inspired by the mission and its goals. It combines perfectly my love for dance and the arts with my desire to become an ambassador of the arts between the U.S and China. It was a perfect fit!

What are you looking forward to about the program?

I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of the arts and its effect on nations and communities. I am also excited to study policy, leadership, management and just to immerse myself in new skills while also holding onto the passion I have for the arts. I am also really looking forward to learning from the broad spectrum of managers, leaders, professors and various artists that are a part of the program. I can see how diverse it is and am so excited to be a part of it!

What do you hope to do after the program?

After the program I hope to work with an organization that promotes cultural collaborations and exchanges between the U.S and China. There are so many neat organizations out there like Dance USA, The U.S-China Cultural Council, DanceMotion USA and Ping Pong Productions. I love to work with possibly one of these organizations and hopefully even head some projects and exchanges of my own.