Alex Shih – National Vice President of Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

I also want to show that Taiwan is home to beautiful people, great music, and a great social scene.

Who are you?

I am currently the National Vice President for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA). I grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and am now a senior at Princeton University. At Princeton, I am a student in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I have yet to make any solid plans for life after graduation; all I know is I want to be doing something that I enjoy. In addition to ITASA, Princeton TASA is really important to me; whenever we throw an event or just relax together I am guaranteed to have a good time! I am also involved with Princeton’s International Relations Council (IRC). Last spring, nine members of IRC and I were lucky enough to visit Taiwan for a week to attend WorldMUN in Taipei. It was wonderful to be able to show Taipei to my friends who had never been there before. In my spare time, I like to listen to music from Taiwan, Korea, and the United States. I also try to stay aware of current events by reading the BBC, Taipei Times, and various blogs and Twitter pages. I am a big fan of karaoke and am most thankful for my friends.

Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?

The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) is a national organization that provides resources for college students interested in Taiwanese culture. Through a variety of projects, ITASA helps college students find a voice, community, and identity. These projects include annual conferences and mixers to bring students together in a social setting, a newsletter to let other students know what their peers are up to, and a website with great resources.

As Vice President, I work with the rest of the ITASA National Board to implement our initiatives. In the past, I organized a mixer in New York City for students from the tri-state area as well as a concert outing to Connecticut to see Taiwanese band Mayday (五月天) perform. This year, I will be maintaining a blog on the new ITASA website that shares interesting information about Taiwan: music, politics, movies, nightlife, and more. I will also be helping the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference team run a successful conference. And of course I will be at as many ITASA events as possible because they are always fun!

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?

I am motivated by fun and friends. I’ve found that initiatives (whether they entail holding a huge event or just showing up to a simple meeting) are most successful when they are fun and with friends. When I work with my friends I am having fun, and that makes projects infinitely easier to accomplish. To that end, while it’s of course necessary to tackle the more formal aspects of a job, it’s also essential that team members develop friendly relationships between one another. As a leader, I believe it’s important to facilitate that.

What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?

I hope that ITASA can continue to help people discover the various aspects of the Taiwanese American identity. I also hope ITASA can show Taiwanese Americans how fun Taiwan is. Some Taiwanese Americans see Taiwan only as a humid island where the grandparents tell them they’re getting too fat or they need to eat more. It definitely includes those aspects, but I also want to show that Taiwan is home to beautiful people, great music, and a great social scene.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage because Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese people are positive people who care about one another. On New Years Eve 2008, Taipei 101 displayed the message “Love Taiwan.” On New Years Eve 2009, it displayed the message “Taiwan Up.”  Even when something awful happens, Taiwanese people stay together and stay positive. I am also proud that Jay Chou is from Taiwan because he is very talented.

What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?

I see all Taiwanese Americans, wherever they are, loving each other and loving Taiwan.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Please check out ITASA at http://www.itasa.org and please keep your eyes peeled for information about upcoming events!

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