Karen Chia-ru Lin – Filmmaker and Music Video Producer

Los Angeles, CA

I look forward to seeing what parts of our culture we will be able to pass to our children, and they to their children. It will be a colorful future…

lin.karen4Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American born in Seattle to my mother from Taipei and my father from Taoyuan. I have an amazing sister and an amazingly large “Proud to be Taiwanese” family –all 80 of us (and that’s just my immediate family!!). I love movies, good food, family and good friends.

What do you do?

I am a filmmaker who got bitten by the film bug from the moment I made my first short film “Drive By” while still in graduate school studying public policy. I have been working in Hollywood for over 15 years, and for the last 8 years as a music video / commercial producer. I continue my goal of directing projects that I feel passionate about hoping to get many of my projects and a first feature film off the ground in the coming years.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwanese is just who I am. It is what makes me see and experience the world as I do. So many wonderful experiences of living bi-culturally… and really tri-culturally because of the Japanese influence. It means I am linked to the amazing family and friends that surround me who share this common experience and history. I love getting to eat delicious foods, experience hot sticky summers with giant cockroaches and typhoons, speak a language that few in the world speak, and have a huge wonderful family!!

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

I look forward to seeing what parts of our culture we will be able to pass to our children, and they to their children. It will be a colorful future… one with children of mixed races, all I hope to be proud of where they came from. People will be in all different careers our parents would never have dreamed of. It will be a future of endless possibilities and no limitations.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love shaved ice!

My website: www.zuzufilms.com

I recently directed the “Write in Taiwanese” Census 2010 PSA video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcFLfw73O30

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Panney Wei – TV-Radio Host, Author, Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker

Los Angeles, CA

My vision for the future of Taiwanese America is for Taiwanese Americans to rise in every sector of society, to have leaders reflected in every industry and to come together as a community to support each other…

wei.panney1Who are you?

I am an award-winning writer, TV-Radio host, life coach, and motivational speaker on personal growth and empowerment, women’s issues, the power of the mind, and personal transformation, inspiring people to move through obstacles and achieve their dreams. I’m the great granddaughter of one of China’s greatest statesmen, General Tso Tsung-Tang, immortalized in pop culture for his famous dish “General Tso’s chicken”, and granddaughter to Albert Liu, a former Senator serving the Taiwanese government.

I have a passion for community activism and serve on the Board of several non-profits including the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, National Asian Artist Project, and as a National Senior Advisor for the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) and Women in NAAAP. I currently serve as State Secretary for the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus- California Democratic Party and was recently named one of “2010 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” by the Asian American Business Development Center. I’m also a member of the National Speakers Association and host/producer/writer of my talk radio show “Positive Changes with Panney Wei” on KCAA 1050 AM, NBC News radio and write a column as the Hollywood Relationship Expert for The Examiner.com.

I am trained as a Certified Hypnotherapist and life coach, finishing a Doctorate in Naturopathy, and am the author of an upcoming self-help book on attracting the love of your life. www.panneywei.com.

What do you do?

I’m a Certified Life Coach and Hypnotherapist – Author- Motivational Speaker and TV-Radio Host versed in the power of the mind and moving people through obstacles so they can achieve their dreams. I host my show “Positive Changes with Panney Wei” on KCAA 1050 AM NBC News radio to nearly a million listeners a month and podcasting at www.kcaaradio.com and iTunes where my show is ranked Top 100 Best Podcasts on iTunes in Spirituality. My dream is to help more people through the world of publishing or television and hope to host my own TV show someday. I have a private practice doing corporate training, one-on-one coaching and hypnotherapy, and motivational speaking, and my goal is to change the world and transform people’s lives, one person at a time. I was recently named one of the “2010 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” and greatly honored that I’m being recognized for my achievements, life purpose, and work in the community!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m first generation Taiwanese and very proud of my heritage! As an immigrant coming to America and being naturalized at the age of ten, I realized the value of being multicultural and bilingual in America today and the value and importance of cherishing one’s Chinese or Taiwanese heritage. There are so many people in our community that have contributed to the advancement and fabric of American society and we should be proud of our contributions as a community.

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

My vision for the future of Taiwanese America is for Taiwanese Americans to rise in every sector of society, to have leaders reflected in every industry and to come together as a community to support each other whether it’s in the arts, film, music, science, law, non-profit, health and wellness, television, engineering, or other fields. We are only as strong as our numbers and our ability to work together and support each other, so my hope and vision is for all of us to see each other not as each other’s competition but as each other’s sisters and brothers. Our cultural heritage is what makes us unique, our values and ancestry is what gives us a strong foundation, and when we bring them to America and bridge East and West, that’s where our strength and power lies. It’s in the combination of the two, drawing on what’s best in the west and merging it with the east and our Taiwanese heritage. I hope one day there will be an Asian American president of the United States and hopefully that person will one day also be Taiwanese!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Connect with Panney! My website is: www.panneywei.com and I would love people to connect with me through my other sites:

Blog: www.apanneyforyourthoughts.blogspot.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/panneywei
Facebook: www.facebook.com/panneywei
Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/panneywei

My favorite Taiwanese dessert is the Taiwanese bao-bing slushy ice with red bean, mochi, mango jelly, and condensed milk! I could eat that all summer!

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Edward Huang – Past President of North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association

Danville, CA

My wife and I have lived in many cities in the US. We are always active in the local Taiwanese community.

huang.edward1Who are you?

I was born in Taiwan. I attended a Japanese elementary school at the end of WWII in 1945. I experienced Taiwan’s rule under the Japanese and also the KMT-Chinese governments. The Japanese were very strict but followed the law. The Chinese were known to be corrupt, and did not go by the law. Under the KMT rule, there was always a way to win lawsuits with bribes. My parents’ generation, educated by the Japanese, went by the principles of honesty and integrity. I treasure these principles. I came to the US in 1960 to attend graduate school at Kansas University.

What do you do?

After I received a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from KU, I worked for US oil companies for 30 years. I was a research scientist working on improved methods to recover oil from oil reservoirs. Then I spent five years in Taiwan as an adjunct professor at  National Cheng-Kung University. In 2000, I joined a research team at the University of Colorado to work on micronization of drugs for pulmonary delivery. I retired in 2004 and settled in the SF Bay Area.

My wife and I have lived in many cities in the US. We are always active in the local Taiwanese community. In LA, at the invitation of Mr. Shih Chou, I attended a planning meeting to form the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) in 1985. From 1991 to 1995, we were active in the committee of Great Performers From Taiwan. The purpose of this series was to promote composers and performers form Taiwan, such as Tyzen Hsiao, Cho-liang Lin, Nai-yuan Hu, etc. I am also active in North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association; I served as president from 2005 to 2006 (www.natpa.org). NATPA has been active since 2002, encouraging young Taiwanese scholars to attend our annual conference and become involved in the group. I currently serve as an at-large member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) Board of Directors.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a first generation Taiwanese American. I am proud of the Taiwanese heritage, which is different from the Chinese heritage.

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

In the past 10 to 20 years, we have seen more and more young Taiwanese Americans become interested in joining Taiwanese American organizations. This is a very good phenomenon, as we need strong organizations like the Jewish Defense League or Japanese American Citizens League to speak up for their motherland.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My work done at University of Colorado can be viewed at www.aktiv-dry.com. Under “services,” there is a photo in the lab showing me with Professor Bob Sievers and a graduate student. You can also see my papers under “publications.”

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Joanna Lin – Magazine Marketer

New York, NY

I’m 14th generation Taiwanese, 2nd generation Taiwanese American. My ancestors left the Fujian province in the early 16th century and found their way to Taichung, Taiwan.

lin.joanna1Who are you?

I am always wanting. If that makes any sense? I am always wanting to do better, be better, and have the best. I am female, 25 and a Midwestern transplant in New York City. I am aspirational – seeking to find / see / understand the mysteries that lay in this world – as cheesy as that may sound. I am a Michigan graduate (Go Blue!) who majored in anthropology and Japanese studies. I love to explore, and I love to try and experience new things. I have a bad case of “wanderlust;” I always want to travel. Not only that, I always want to eat.

What do you do?

I’m a magazine marketer by day, foodie, adventure-seeker & wannabe New Yorker / photographer / writer by night.

As a magazine marketer, I work for Time Inc.’s Consumer Marketing division for Fortune, Money and Real Simple magazines (look for my name in the masthead!) My life is full of analysis, excel, and trouble-shooting.

As a foodie, adventure-seeker & wannabe New Yorker / photographer / writer, I am always seeking to create as many memories as possible. The best meal I’ve ever had, the best trip I’ve taken, or the photographs and writings I create are all near and dear to my heart.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 14th generation Taiwanese, 2nd generation Taiwanese American. My ancestors left the Fujian province in the early 16th century and found their way to Taichung, Taiwan. Nearly 500 years later, my parents left Taiwan for America.

For my family to have such strong roots in Taiwan completely amazes me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to appreciate what it meant to be Taiwanese American.

From countless trips back to piles of research projects that I’ve done on the island has only made me prouder to be Taiwanese.

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

I hope, dream, cross my fingers, throw salt over my shoulder, etc. that one day there will be solidarity amongst Taiwan, Taiwanese, Taiwanese Americans, etc.

It truly saddens me that so many people can be torn over two colors (pan-green/pan-blue). If it explains anything: my dad is pan-blue and my mom is pan-green and we never, EVER, discuss politics in my household.

Everyone seeks solidarity, but no one could use it more than a nation torn down the middle.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I’ve lived in Taiwan at two points in my life – once to study and once to work. Both times I had to climb mountains to either get home or go to work. This is ridiculous, why on earth is Taipei so mountainous!?

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Daniel Hsu – 1st Generation Community Leader, Dentist and Father

Irvine, CA

I believe in self-sacrifice, service to others, and giving back to society. I am a member of several service organizations, and our group, NATMA, performs at least one mission trip each year, usually to a developing country abroad.

hsu.daniel1Who are you?

I am a dentist, mentor, father and husband. I am the past President of the North American Taiwanese Medical Association (NATMA), Chung Shan Medical University Alumni Association, the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, and the Taiwanese Friendship Golf Club.

What do you do?

I graduated from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston and have been practicing dentistry for 28 years. What is special about my office are the workers. We are a team, and I am fortunate to still work with the two original office staff that I started with when first opening the office. I am a Christian, and in my daily life I follow Christian principals through my actions. I believe in self-sacrifice, service to others, and giving back to society. I am a member of several service organizations, and our group, NATMA, performs at least one mission trip each year, usually to a developing country abroad. We have been to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Panama. In my spare time, I enjoy golfing and singing. I used to sing professionally at Taiwanese night clubs in my younger days.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

From a small and oppressed island, I feel that Taiwanese people have overcome vast obstacles and have given themselves a great and proud voice to represent their culture through achievements and success. I am pleased to see qualities such as humbleness, kindness, and gentleness in the people and I am happy to be a part of this group. I am always looking for the best in people and I believe every person has some redeeming quality to be found if you simply look. I am proud to represent my community as a person of Taiwanese descent.

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

The future of Taiwanese America looks very promising to me as advancements in technology and medicine arise. More and more of our younger generation are surpassing the levels once unobtainable and making themselves renowned all over the world. To remind our future Taiwanese of their culture, I will work my hardest to connect the generation gap through ways that are current as well as meaningful to relate to them in hopes they will be reminiscent and yearn to learn more of their background.

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Susan Tsay – Retired High School Language Teacher and Writer

Houston, TX

In 1986, I co-founded the Houston Taiwanese School of Language and Culture with a group of like-minded Taiwanese Americans. In this venture I created teaching materials that would enlighten children of Taiwanese descent about Taiwanese language, culture, and traditions.

tsay.susan1Who are you?

During World War II, my father went to Japan to study for a degree in pharmacy. I was born in Nagoya City, Japan, and then grew up in Taiwan. My parents had eight children, of which I am the eldest.

I attended Kao-hsiung Girls High School, and then after graduating from National Taiwan University I returned to Kao-hsiung to teach school and write short stories.

Originally I had no plans to make a life in the US, but because my husband had gone to America to pursue an advanced degree, in 1969 I took our two young children there to reunite with him. In 1973 my husband received his PhD from Michigan State University and obtained a post-doctoral research position at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, so our family moved to Houston where we have lived until now.

Before leaving Taiwan, I had taught for five years and also published a short story anthology comprising more than 100,000 words.

In 1975, I began teaching Chinese language classes at Bellaire High School in Houston’s public school system. Between 1982 and 1984, I completed a Master’s degree in education at Houston Baptist University. In 1986, I published my second short story anthology in Taiwan. After 32 years at Bellaire High, I retired in 2007.

All along I have been actively involved in the Houston Formosan Association. In 1986, I co-founded the Houston Taiwanese School of Language and Culture with a group of like-minded Taiwanese Americans. In this venture I created teaching materials that would enlighten children of Taiwanese descent about Taiwanese language, culture, and traditions. This would provide them the resources needed to understand their family roots.

What do you do?

Since retiring, I have frequently been invited by the director of Rice University’s Chinese Teachers’ Training Program to share with their trainees the lessons of my 32 years of teaching experience. I also do my best to coach new Taiwanese immigrants in the Houston area on how to navigate the American high school educational system.

Nowadays I am living the life I dreamed of as a child: gardening, reading, and writing. I spend two hours every day tending to my garden, participate in a book club that discusses a new book every two months, and continue to write. My third collection of short stories will be published shortly. The 32 essays include remembrances of my childhood, the 2-28 massacre of 1947 and the subsequent decades of “White Terror,” and the students I have encountered.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwanese people do not fear hard work; They are diligent, down-to-earth, do the best they can, and possess wisdom. The footprints of Taiwanese people exist anywhere the sun rises: all over the world Taiwanese people have created successful businesses and made great contributions to their local communities.

I am a first generation Taiwanese who emigrated to America. I am proud of my Taiwanese heritage.

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

In the US, the second-generation of Taiwanese Americans has outstanding accomplishments in domains such as medicine, science, engineering, law, and education. Only in the political arena do we still have a relative lack of influence. Hopefully in the not-to-distant future we will see a Taiwanese American mayor of a major city, governor, congressman or senator. We should even aspire to someday elect a Taiwanese American president of the United States. As Taiwan’s ex-president Chen Shui-Bian often said: “having a dream is most beautiful, and then hope will follow.”

Any additional information you would like to share?

My blog (written in Mandarin Chinese) address is: http://shuyuan0220.blogspot.com/

You are more than welcome to visit.

Comment by her younger son, Andy, now an associate professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University: Several generations of young Taiwanese Americans have passed through my mother’s classroom on their way to great accomplishments, including some who have become celebrities in Asia. I have run into my mother’s former students in all corners of the world. No matter what I might accomplish individually, I suspect that I will always be better known as “Tsay lao-shi’s son.” In that I take great pride.

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Alison Yang – High School Student and Beatboxer

Sylvania, OH

I beatbox everywhere and anytime I can. Rhythm is steady, and in an unpredictable world, that can be very comforting. I love performing, and I try to connect my passion for serving others with my music.

yang.alison3Who are you?

I am an incoming senior attending Sylvania Southview High School in Northwest Ohio. I was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas. My parents are immigrants from Taipei. Though the Taiwanese American community is small in my area, my parents have always encouraged me to explore my heritage and to be proud of it. I am a typical hardworking, high-achieving student, but I also have a passion for community service and music.

What do you do?

I live in the suburbs surrounding Toledo, a fairly economically depressed area. I serve as the public relations executive for Youth in Philanthropy Encouraging Excellence, and I help to raise funds and secure grants for nonprofit groups that beautify the community and serve the interests of the youth. I research at the University of Toledo and am captain of my school’s debate team. I am also an avid beatboxer and guitarist. I beatbox everywhere and anytime I can. Rhythm is steady, and in an unpredictable world, that can be very comforting. I love performing, and I try to connect my passion for serving others with my music. I perform in benefit concerts, and busk for donations to nonprofits.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A17Hm85kfQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8yENycaOsQ

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation Taiwanese American. To me, being Taiwanese American means being proud, persistent, and tough. Our story embodies the ability to overcome adversity and obstacles. Our sense of community is also uniquely strong –we share many of the same struggles, and those struggles tie us together.

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

The future looks bright. I have met so many strong Taiwanese American leaders, and I know that with such competent and passionate people fighting for our rights, we will eventually break through.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love collaborating, so if you are any kind of musician that wants a sick beat on a track, let me know! [email protected]

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Susan Hsu – Musician, Writer, and Policy Analyst

Arlington, VA

I especially enjoy coming across independent artists who do or make art for the sake of creating something or just expressing themselves… doesn’t matter how ‘big’ or ‘successful’ it is.

hsu.susan1Who are you?

I am a musician, writer, and policy analyst in international trade. I have a really awesome family, friends and twin sister, Emily! When it comes to being Taiwanese, people might know us most because of a YouTube video that went unexpectedly viral… we filmed it last summer to help raise funds for Taiwan’s relief efforts after Typhoon Morakot.

What do you do?

I sing & play violin/guitar in a band called Exit Clov, as well as another project with my twin sister Emily called The Sounds of Domestic Living (SODL). We’re actually in the process of recording an album of Taiwanese songs to be released under SODL. Along with our Exit Clov bandmates, we run a small-scale indie collective and record label called the Nervous People Collective. I used to be a journalist, but I still keep a blog called Mousybabe (mousybabe.com) with film and music reviews and other random absurd things I come across. During the day, I work as a policy analyst in international trade. And lastly, my family recently started our own little craft business in memory of our dad’s artwork (imoM.etsy.com).

If you ask me what I do with my life, I guess it’s just one big hobby! I also love collecting records, going to shows, reading books, learning about music history, art, politics, culture and religion. I especially enjoy coming across independent artists who do or make art for the sake of creating something or just expressing themselves… doesn’t matter how ‘big’ or ‘successful’ it is.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

There are many distinctive things about Taiwanese culture, but I think I’m especially proud when it comes to how we are raised to respect and treat people, especially friends and loved ones. Taiwanese people are such kind and giving people – there’s a strong emphasis on being thoughtful, humble, selfless, self-effacing, self-sacrificing or however you want to put it. I think the knee-jerk reaction from a western perspective is that this is a sign of weakness because you’re not immediately asserting your individuality. But to me it’s a virtue. It doesn’t mean you automatically submit to what others seek. It’s actually about the opposite – it’s standing up to the culture of taking before first giving, it’s about being courageous enough NOT to open your mouth before you know what the shot is, and taking the time to first learn the difference between true wisdom and brash thoughtless egoism. Of course you risk being taken advantage of by others at times, but in the end it’s an attempt to change the culture around you by example and as a reflection of the strength of your character. I think these values are completely in tune with how a lot of the most benevolent and amazing people changed the world – i.e. Mother Teresa, Jesus, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So I’m proud and grateful to have been instilled with the very Taiwanese virtue of placing the needs of loved ones before the self.

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

I can’t wait to see more Taiwanese Americans expand into fields and activities where you don’t see them as much now.

Any additional information you would like to share?

mousybabe.com
exitclov.com
imoM.etsy.com
nervouspeoplecollective.com

Typhoon Morakot video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72M9-kyVxsc

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Jon Lee – Film Producer

Los Angeles, CA

I am proud of the collective shared experience that I and other Taiwanese Americans have balancing our dominant American identity with a little flair of Taiwanese culture and heritage.

lee.jon1Who are you?

I’m a native of the great city of Springfield, IL, and now live in Los Angeles, CA. I’m a second generation Taiwanese American, and I hope to leave a positive impact on this world.

What do you do?

I work in the film and entertainment industry. I was the associate producer for the first major independent Taiwanese American-funded Hollywood film Formosa Betrayed. Through my own company, Slideshow Pictures, I aim to create and produce media that matters.

I also am active within Taiwanese American organizations — one of them called TAF, short for the Taiwanese American Foundation. It was by attending that summer conference year after year starting in my teens that led to my involvement in other organizations such as the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA), which then led to my professional career in film production, with Formosa Betrayed being the most notable work so far. I also produced the popular “Write in Taiwanese” Census 2010 PSA with friends that I met at TAF, and hope to make more works big and small in the future.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation. I am proud of the collective shared experience that I and other Taiwanese Americans have balancing our dominant American identity with a little flair of Taiwanese culture and heritage.

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

In the future, I see us as the new Jewish community, being super supportive of each other, excelling in all areas — and then in addition, more than anything, giving back to the world community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

If, by chance, you’re unaware of our 2010 Census Campaign video, check it out here:

http://taiwaneseamerican.org/census2010

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Felicia Lin – Writer and Biographer

New York, NY

In a larger sense, I want to preserve history, to tell inspirational personal stories that educate, move, and motivate others.

lin.felicia2Who are you?

I am an aspiring writer and socially minded entrepreneur. At an early age, as I grew up in Canada, my parents instilled a strong sense of Taiwanese identity in me, but it is my curiosity and personal journey of understanding that has made me someone who is proud of my heritage. After several years of organizing within the Taiwanese American community, which began when I helped to found the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association, I decided to move to Taiwan in 2001 to do some soul searching. While I was there, I had a creative breakthrough and decided that I wanted to write and ended up staying there for six years when I “discovered” and met Su Beng, the amazing man whose biography I am now working on. These days, I continue to do community work by being involved with organizations that take an entrepreneurial approach to dealing with social issues and charitable causes.

What do you do?

Currently, I am working on a project to document the life of Su Beng, Marxist revolutionary, historian, and author of  “Taiwan’s 400 Year History,” and lifelong Taiwan independence activist. I began this project in 2004, and in 2007 I began blogging about Su Beng and the experience of being his biographer.

After spending six years in Taiwan, I returned to New York where I am now working on perfecting my craft, which is writing. I am always looking for opportunities to connect people, to be an agent of change, to make things happen, to challenge myself creatively, and above all to nurture the artist in me. In a larger sense, I want to preserve history, to tell inspirational personal stories that educate, move, and motivate others. To learn more about Su Beng and my project to document his life, please visit my blog at: www.aboutsubeng.blogspot.com.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Three things come to mind, although there are many more reasons:

I believe that the Taiwanese have an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit. After World War II Taiwan was in a shambles. It was the hard work and perseverance of the Taiwanese that gradually transformed Taiwan from a poor agrarian economy into a manufacturing, highly industrialized and now high tech economy. The Taiwanese truly deserve credit for the “economic miracle” of Taiwan.

With a peaceful transformation from a totalitarian regime in to a free, democratic society, Taiwan serves as a model of democratization for many developing countries.

Third, many of the Taiwanese who were able to escape the Kuomintang’s authoritarianism and to immigrate to the U.S. and other countries in the 1960s and 70s were brave pioneers. Free from the Kuomintang, they discovered the truth about Taiwan and their Taiwanese identity, and they and their offspring have and continue to made great contributions to their adopted countries.

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

I see “Taiwantowns” – marketplaces and communities of Taiwanese goods, food and culture – sprouting up throughout the country. I’d like to see Taiwan night markets held as events during Taiwanese American Heritage week, and becoming unique nighttime, outdoor community events held throughout the country, throughout the year. I see Taiwan Studies programs becoming more widespread, being established at more and colleges and universities across the country. And I see more and more Taiwanese Americans following their entrepreneurial spirit, making breakthroughs in as yet uncharted territory, making our voices heard. Sky’s the limit! It’s hard to predict what the world and the workforce will look like in ten years from now. Much of the technology and jobs of the future are not probably even in existence yet.

Any additional information you would like to share?

www.aboutsubeng.blogspot.com


Jeffrey Shieh – Overseas Program Coordinator and Language Teacher

Uchinada Town, Kahoku District, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan

I am also an advocate for foreign language education in the U.S., and believe that the myopic monolingualism of so many Americans is a detrimental weakness to their success in this rapidly shrinking and globalizing world.

shieh.jeffrey1Who are you?

I am a 25-year-old, 2nd-generation Taiwanese American working as a Coordinator for International Relations on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme in Uchinada Town, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. I am a Christian, was brought up in the Evangelical Formosan Church, and am the eldest child of a pastor. Born and raised in the Los Angeles county area, I grew up speaking Taiwanese at home and English at school. I studied French in high school, and went on to UC Berkeley to double major in Chinese and Japanese Languages and minor in Korean Language. I am an amateur musician and like to play the piano, flute, clarinet, and bassoon.

What do you do?

Currently, I work in the town hall of a Japanese town of 27,000 people. My job is to organize events with an international and/or multicultural focus, such as Halloween parties for kids, Christmas dinners for adults, multi-lingual speech contests, and monthly salons where foreigners and Japanese meet and learn about each other’s cultures. I also teach Mandarin, Korean, and English to the townspeople, and from time to time visit five elementary schools, talking to the kids there about America, Asian Americans, and other international issues. I also help out at the local church by playing piano/keyboard for their youth group. I am also an advocate for foreign language education in the U.S., and believe that the myopic monolingualism of so many Americans is a detrimental weakness to their success in this rapidly shrinking and globalizing world.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwanese Americans, although relatively few in number compared to other ethnic API populations in the U.S., have been innovative pioneers on the frontier of numerous fields, including (but not limited to) politics, law, technology, physical sciences, architecture, cinema, music, and art. The Taiwanese are a resourceful and creative people, and through their hard work and diligence they have overcome ethnic, linguistic, and cultural barriers to become a population that not only contributes to, but also greatly enriches American society. I am proud of my linguistic heritage in the Taiwanese language (aka Minnan or Fukien) as well. Not only does Taiwanese boast one of the oldest histories of the many Chinese languages, it is also a current, vibrant, and expressive lived language that has continued to evolve and thrive in the face of numerous obstacles (just like the people who speak it). And I am immensely proud of Taiwanese food. The myriad of amazing foods that claim Taiwanese heritage show the creativity and genius of the chefs who created them. Only someone crazy could say no to “gu-bah-mi” and “bah-tzang”!

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

I see Taiwanese America as growing increasingly more diverse. Although many of our parents immigrated to the U.S. as businessmen or graduate students in science, law, or economics, our generation has branched out from those fields and integrated ourselves into all parts of academia and American society. The passionate activism of many Taiwanese Americans has played an invaluable role in raising awareness about the issues that affect the Asian American community. On the global front, Taiwanese Americans have also been doing their part to teach others about the differences between Taiwan and China, and Taiwanese and Mandarin, and that may influence the course of world politics in the near future.

On the other hand, I admit that I am also concerned about Taiwanese Americans losing parts of their cultural and linguistic heritage to the hegemony of the English language and American culture. While I recognize that it is the unique blend and mix of Taiwanese and American cultures that makes us a unique community, I believe an equal balance between the two is necessary to preserve the Taiwanese side. I myself have resolved to in the future teach my children Taiwanese culture and language, and encourage others to consider doing the same.

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Jim Liaw – Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and President of Formula Drift

Huntington Beach, CA

Like many cultures looking for a place of their own, from the founding fathers of America to the Irish struggles with England to Armenians under Soviet suppression, I find strength in our fight for recognition and identity.

liaw.jim1Who are you?

I am a 1.5 Gen Taiwanese American. My family immigrated here in 1980, when I was six. We didn’t speak English and I had to start in ESL classes. My parents started with a donut shop in Santa Ana, starting their day at 4am in the shop. They were able to provide me with a better life: I was able to graduate from Diamond Bar High School, then from UCLA, then they were able to support me in starting my own business, Formula Drift. FD is now the largest professional drifting series in the world. Who am I… I think I am a result of great, hard working parents who taught me a ton by example.

What do you do?

I am the Co-Founder & President for Formula Drift but I am also a husband, father and son. What I do with my life is balance the management of a company from top to bottom with the responsibilities of being a good husband, father and son. My work life demands odd hours and lots of traveling but also offers me the flexibility to be able to attend each doctor’s visit when my wife was pregnant. So I think my success is that I am able to balance it all without any compromise.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 1.5 Gen Taiwanese American, I think I have a unique balance and bridge of both my Taiwanese and my American culture and heritage. I think through the years, not only have I learned to be proud of my Taiwanese heritage, but I have learned to embrace it and be empowered by it. Like many cultures looking for a place of their own, from the founding fathers of America to the Irish struggles with England to Armenians under Soviet suppression, I find strength in our fight for recognition and identity.

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

To me, Taiwanese America is still evolving and forming its own identity. I dream of a day where Taiwanese Americans can promote a culture, identity and heritage that is more than just yummy street vendor food and semi-conductor chips, but really expand on the artists both classical and pop, the athletes and those that are out of the Taiwanese “norm.” We are bonded by the same root but we celebrate the diversity of our branches (not be too cliche with the tree analogy).

Any additional information you would like to share?

I have many many fond memories of my early years in Taiwan. I can vividly remember many events. As I reminisce about those days, I always think about the time I had with my ah-ma, going to the open market and buying cubes of grass jelly on a hot summer day then coming home to cut it up and put it on ice with sugar water… or sitting in the kitchen making rice dough balls for Lunar New Year. I think those will always make me long for those days in Taiwan.

Formula Drift: http://www.formulad.com

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Jason Su – Retirement Education Specialist

Philadelphia, PA

In my job, many times I travel to places where there are few to no Asians, and I teach the employees there how to take advantage of their retirement plans, so that one day they don’t have to work anymore.

su.jason3Who are you?

I am Jason Su, a 26 year-old male born in Detroit, MI, whose parents were the first generation to immigrate to the US. I spent most of my life in Centreville, VA (a part of “NOVA”), and it is here that I had the fortune to grow up with a diverse set of friends doing diverse activities. I always remind myself of this as I have moved away from home and realized people are not always as open to others’ differences.

What do you do?

I find that a lot of what I do is defy stereotypes. In my job, many times I travel to places where there are few to no Asians, and I teach the employees there how to take advantage of their retirement plans, so that one day they don’t have to work anymore. It’s one of the best feelings to leave the company knowing that the guys who work the night shift at a manufacturing plant finally understand the importance of saving for retirement, but also that the Asian guy that talked to them was, “doing his own thing,” which is different from what they thought most Asian guys are like.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

It’s important to be aware and proud of one’s heritage. I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American but have been fortunate to visit Taiwan frequently as all my extended family is there. I have come to realize the friendly and respectul culture of Taiwan, despite the struggles her people have been through. And you can always count on the Taiwanese work ethic, something we should always value and maintain.

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

It is filled with people who continue to excel in the academic realm and have respectable and fulfilling careers, but who also become more well-rounded. We’ll see more Taiwanese Americans on varsity sports teams and leadership positions, for example. We will be viewed as fun, social, and assertive, in addition to the current positive characteristics we possess.

Any additional information you would like to share?

How many Taiwanese Americans do you know who love country music? You can add me to that small group, haha. Please check me out singing some country songs. Please keep in mind that I took piano, not voice, lessons growing up.

http://www.youtube.com/and1lyja

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William Roberts – Incoming President for UCI’s Taiwanese American Organization

Laguna Hills, CA

I hope to continue the visions of the founding members by bringing greater awareness of the Taiwanese American identity through promoting Taiwanese culture.

roberts.will1Who are you?

I am currently a sophomore student studying Computer Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. I was born and raised in Taiwan until the age of 7, when I moved to the United States. The reason why I moved to the US is because my mother met my step-dad, who is Caucasian, while he was working abroad in Taiwan, and she believed that my twin sister and I would receive a better education in the US. While growing up in the US, I was primarily brought up with traditional American culture with my own Taiwanese culture playing a minor role in my adolescence. As a result, I spent much of my elementary, middle, and, to some degree, high school years in cultural confusion. However, that all changed when I started college.

What do you do?

As a college student at UCI, my fascination with my Taiwanese culture started to bloom as I realized there are a variety of organizations on campus dedicated to different cultures. As I explored the different culture clubs, I discovered the Taiwanese American Organization (TAO), a brand new club on campus dedicated to bring awareness of the Taiwanese American identity to the mainstream. I was fortunate enough to be selected on staff and to work with the incredible founding members of the organization. Now that the year is winding down, many of the original founding members are graduating, and they have given me the honor of taking over as the President of TAO next year. I hope to continue the visions of the founding members by bringing greater awareness of the Taiwanese American identity through promoting Taiwanese culture.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I consider myself as 1.5 generation because even though I immigrated to the United States, I spent much of my adolescence here and I was exposed to more traditional American culture than Taiwanese culture. As a result, I felt I lost my connection to the Taiwanese heritage. After I discovered the Taiwanese American Organization at UCI, I felt a renewed sense of Taiwanese pride. I learned more and more about the Taiwanese culture though hosting traditional Taiwanese events such as the Lantern Festival and Night Market, networking with significant figures in the Taiwanese American community, and attending events like the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association conference at UCSD. I feel like every new Taiwanese activity I experience brings me closer to my heritage. I think it is important to be proud of your own Taiwanese heritage and have a passion to learn more about it.

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Victoria Linchong – Theater Artist and Filmmaker

New York, NY

There is really a scrappy defiance to Taiwan that is kind of punk rock. But with a lot more than three chords.

linchong.victoria1Who are you?

I am a New York City native, born in the East Village to Taiwanese immigrants. I am a unique mix of uptown and down, rural Taiwan and inner city New York. I began working in theater on my own at the age of 14, first as an actress then (at the age of 17) as a producer. As an actress, I most notably was in Jeff Weiss’ HOT KEYS, which won an Obie Citation. As a producer, my credits include the world premiere of Tennessee Williams last short plays, several plays by James Purdy including one with Laurence Fishburne and an Obie Award winning anti-war event.

What do you do?

I currently work as Development Assistant at Film Forum, a nonprofit cinema that is well-regarded for its program of classic, independent and foreign films. Three years ago, I also founded Direct Arts, a new theater and film company that aims to produce and promote plays and films that explore the intersection between cultures. We’ve been producing a monthly reading/screening series that pairs a play and a film, one short and one full-length, both touching on some analogous sociopolitical topic. I curate the event and sometimes direct, sometimes act. I’m also working on a documentary on Taiwanese identity and independence, called ALMOST HOME: TAIWAN.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan, like most islands, is a beautiful blend of cultures. I love being part Hakka, part Chinese, part Japanese and probably part Austronesian. People stop me in the subway and ask for directions in Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean… no one ever knows what ethnicity I am, which always makes me feel I AM ASIA. There is so much about Taiwanese identity – what the heck ARE the Taiwanese? But I think, really, Taiwan’s identity reflects some beautiful global future where everyone is related to everyone else, where the whole world truly is one.

Besides being such an incredible mix of cultures, Taiwan stands for independence. More than America, even. The civil liberties, the right to speak in your native tongue, the simple right to declare, “I am who I am” without fear – all of this was recently won with much bloodshed and many many tears. Every time I am in Taiwan, I marvel at just being able to speak Taiwanese in the street – it really makes you value what you might otherwise take for granted being American. There is really a scrappy defiance to Taiwan that is kind of punk rock. But with a lot more than three chords.

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

I think people get so lost in equating Chinese ethnicity with Chinese politics. That’s not the same thing. Chinese ethnicity means you have the same ancestors. Chinese politics means you are subject to the censorship and restricted civil liberties of the Chinese Communist Party. Most Taiwanese people have Chinese ancestry but no one in Taiwan is subject to the Chinese political system. And no one who values their civil liberties would want to be. When you look at it that way, the controversy vanishes, poof! Of course Taiwan is part Chinese, but no, Taiwan is not part of China. I’m looking forward to some near future when this distinction will be clear to everyone and there will be much more support for Taiwan’s democracy, which was won with so much bloodshed and so many tears.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Information about my documentary ALMOST HOME: TAIWAN is at http://www.almosthometaiwan.com. I’m distracted by too many things in NYC and looking to get away for 5-7 days to do nothing but assemble a rough cut. You can find out about the rest of my work at http://www.directarts.org

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Marian Liu – Journalist

Seattle, WA

I’m proud that, even though there are different political backgrounds within my family, we can live in harmony.

liu.marian1Who are you?

As a journalist, I write about the underdog, giving voice to the communities I represent – young, female, immigrant, Taiwanese and Chinese. I am a media maven, having written for The Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, The San Francisco Examiner and SOURCE Magazine. I have also taught writing at San Francisco State University, and serve on the journalism advisory boards of my alma mater, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington. I am currently working on my Executive MBA at University of Washington. I also serve as Vice President of External Affairs of NAAAP-Seattle, and work as director of the multimedia project for the Asian American Journalists Association.

What do you do?

I’m a microphone for my community, highlighting their culture, wants, desires and needs. My background is a big part of my life – it really defines who I am. My mantra is from Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see” – I really try to live by that.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Asian American, I make a point to honor my roots. My name has three characters –my last name “Liu” means “willow tree,” my middle name “Chia” means home, taken from a poem and given to my whole generation, and lastly, my own name, “Ming” means bright. It’s actually a guy’s name – my grandfather didn’t want me to be a girl who couldn’t do anything on her own without a man. I am the first female in my family to have a career. The women in my family have all been stay-at-home-supporters; my great grandmother had bound-feet, my grandmother went to charm school, and my mother sacrificed her Ph.D. to take care of my brother and me.

My mother’s family has been in Taiwan for many generations and were among the first to settle in Taiwan. That side of the family served in Taiwan’s initial government. My mother’s father is a biochemistry professor emeritus at Taiwan National University, where my uncle and aunt also teach biochemistry. My father’s side is from Changsha, in the southern province of Hunan in China. My father’s father was a senator in the Nationalist government.

I’m proud that, even though there are different political backgrounds within my family, we can live in harmony. I’ve gone to China twice, and have visited Taiwan almost every year. It’s like a second home to me. I always say, I’m going “back to” Taipei, rather than “going to.”

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

Few folks know what “Taiwanese” is. They think it’s people from Thailand, which is silly. I want to inform people of what they are missing. I envision a future of a more awareness, acceptance and harmony.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I dearly miss my family. My mom’s whole side is there and I only get to see them once a year, if I’m lucky. I also really miss Taiwanese food, especially street food. I love the roasted sweet potato, the candied strawberries, the custard pies and the cheap boba. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Finally, catch my twitter – www.twitter.com/marianliu

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Bernard Chang – Comic Book Artist

Los Angeles, CA

I urge parents today to be more open for their children to discover their own roles and careers. I make a concerted effort to include Asian ethnic characters in my projects. After all, is it not our own culture that preaches a balance of all things for happy and fortuitous life?

chang.bernard1Who are you?

Ever since I can remember as a kid, I’ve always had a pencil in one hand, and trouble in the other. Haha. Well, not really about the “trouble” part, it just sounded cool. At one point in my teen years, I had to make a decision between pursuing music (I played the violin and performed in Carnegie hall once) or art, and I chose the latter. I would attend Pratt institute in Brooklyn, NY, on a full scholarship and earn a bachelors in architecture with honors. I was also the captain of the men’s basketball team at Pratt. While in school, I began working professionally as a comic book artist and was able to buy my mother a house in Miami by my senior year.

What do you do?

I am an artist/designer best known for my work in the comic book and entertainment design industry. Currently, I am illustrating SUPERMAN for DC Comics and was recently the artist on WONDER WOMAN (also for DC Comics). During the turn of the century, I spent over four years as a Walt Disney “imagineer” designing rides for their theme parks and attractions. I’ve also provided illustrations for several NY Times best-selling books, including THE GAME, EMERGENCY, and HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE A PORN STAR. I also have a children’s book series published through Scholastic called THE BLACK BELT CLUB.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a first (point-five) generation Taiwanese American –and I say that only because even though I was born in Canada, I basically grew up in Taiwan until the age of six. I am extremely proud of my heritage and cultural roots and just recently visited family back on the island late last year. I am proud of both my Taiwanese and Chinese heritage. It is a source of debate and struggle at times, mostly because of the divide in nationalistic efforts. I hold an undying allegiance to the Republic of China and feel it should remain independent of communist Chinese rule, but at the root of our human existence, we are still of the same blood.

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

The future lies in the next generation, our children, but we need to understand that the foundation for that path is rooted in what we do today. I encourage all Asian Americans to expand and take chances. Seek opportunities in the arts, athletics, entertainment, as well as those that have been well traveled. I urge parents today to be more open for their children to discover their own roles and careers. I make a concerted effort to include Asian ethnic characters in my projects. After all, is it not our own culture that preaches a balance of all things for happy and fortuitous life? Now, I just need to find a wife and start a family!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Ding Tai Fung is still better in Taiwan. Sorry, had to say it.

Here’s a link to my website: http://www.bernardchang.com

And if you need a new friend: http://www.facebook.com/bernard.chang

Bernard Chang

Vicki Tsui – Pastor of a Pan-Asian Church

Chicago, IL

My hope is that Taiwanese America will continue its history of community and introspection; that young and old, Taiwanese Americans will be reflective about who they are and what matters to them.

tsui.vicki1Who are you?

I am a second-generation Taiwanese American woman, born in Cleveland and resident of the most awesome city in the United States, Chicago. I love words, people, ideas, food, and all things that point to the magnificence of life. I’m 33 years old and excited for what’s in store for the future, knowing that I’ve only scratched the surface. I grew up with a strong sense of my Taiwanese identity, reinforced by the local community I grew up in, and with which my faith experience was intertwined. In college, I studied English and Speech Communication (that is, reading and writing), then briefly pursued book publishing as a career. I made a career switch when I left for seminary and now work in ministry. My job allows me to delve into the big hopes I have in life, not just for myself, but for others, for communities, and for the world.

What do you do?

I work part-time as a pastor at Parkwood Community Church, a pan-Asian, second-generation evangelical church in the suburbs of Chicago. My focus there is to support the Mercy & Justice ministries serving people outside the church, but I also help with other pastorly stuff, like guiding the leadership of the church. My passion is to walk with people in the muck of life and in their relationships with God, so I help with other ministry opportunities as they come along: mentoring youth; speaking and preaching; partnering with initiatives from my denomination (the Evangelical Covenant Church). I hope I can help Asian Americans understand the significance of their culture while also leading them to greater transformation. I also proofread books on a freelance basis (I used to work in book publishing) and work part time in retail (which keeps me humble). I’m also a wife to my wonderfully supportive husband, Will.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My first-generation parents taught me from an early age to be proud of my Taiwanese roots. They – and our community – modeled pride in their culture and a deep concern for their homeland, delighting in our uniqueness, and unafraid to stand up for what we believe is right. They spoke to me in their familiar mother tongue, and even when I was embarrassed by those who wondered aloud why I didn’t speak Mandarin, Mom and Dad reassured me there was nothing to be ashamed of, and that I ought to be proud of who I am and the language I spoke. Though Asian Americans are known to be a shame-based, face-oriented culture, I believe that the Taiwanese culture nurtures outspoken and caring people. I’m proud to be part of a group that is passionate about who they are and what they consider important, about family and community and pride.

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

My hope is that Taiwanese America will continue its history of community and introspection; that young and old, Taiwanese Americans will be reflective about who they are and what matters to them. But my ambition is that they will see all the vast, rich blessings they have been given – whether it be in the form of skills, resource abundance, or passion – and have a burden to “pay it forward” to the rest of the world. Just as Taiwan leads the world in manufacturing, so I hope that Taiwanese Americans would step up and be known for their contribution to whatever community or society they find themselves in. I hope Taiwanese America can grow in seeing itself as a varied, diverse group of people with outstanding talent and wide reach – and then use what they have been given to touch the world.

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Eric Chang – Ph.D. Student in Political Economy and a Taiwan News Junkie

Tainan, Taiwan

Taiwan’s history hasn’t always been the happiest, but as I continue to learn more of our rich and unique history I will always hold my head high when saying that I’m Taiwanese. Our parents and generations before them have struggled to let Taiwan’s voice be heard, a responsibility that now falls on our shoulders.

chang.eric2Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American from Ohio. A few years after college I moved out to Taiwan and have been here ever since (almost nine years). My passions are basketball, hip hop and the global struggle for Taiwanese identity.

What do you do?

Having an open, independent media is vital to the development of any country. Unfortunately, as Taiwan develops, the media here has become increasingly censored, biased and used as a tool for brainwashing. All the TV news channels are like FOX News no matter what side, blue or green, they support. In my spare time, I make short and funny (well, funny is debatable) YouTube clips in broken Taiwanese where I try to point out some of the ridiculous things that politicians and the media say out here.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My parents used to tell me that, “you’re not Chinese” when I was growing up, but I never really understood what it meant until I moved back to Taiwan. Taiwan is a vibrant and diverse society vastly different from any other country. Taiwan’s history hasn’t always been the happiest, but as I continue to learn more of our rich and unique history I will always hold my head high when saying that I’m Taiwanese. Our parents and generations before them have struggled to let Taiwan’s voice be heard, a responsibility that now falls on our shoulders.

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

I hope to see a future where all Taiwanese Americans can be leaders and change agents in each of their respective communities. I envision a future where Taiwanese Americans and Taiwanese youth work closely together in letting the world know that Taiwan is and always will be a free and democratic country.

Any additional information you would like to share?

One of the reasons I may never leave Taiwan is because of the food. I love night market (夜市) food, 意麵, Taiwanese fruits, 路邊攤, the list goes on…

Check out my videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ahbying

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Audrey (Wang) Chen – Stay-at-Home Mom

New Hope, PA

I now have the important task of raising children in America, while at the same time educating them on their heritage.

chen.audrey1Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, married to another 2nd generation Taiwanese American, and am raising 3 (three) young 3rd generation Taiwanese American kids.  (How’s that for numerology?)

What do you do?

I am a devoted wife, a (beginner) capoeirista, and a jack of all trades: personal chef, housekeeper, body guard, cheerleader, personal shopper, peace maker, artistic director, playtime coordinator, laundromat operator, chief communicator, gardener, entertainer, boo-boo healer, social director, comedian, chauffeur, dish washer, hair dresser, director of research and development, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, oh and above all, I am a giver of kisses and hugs.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwanese = Thai?  Taiwan = China?  Ooooh, those equations make my blood boil. Educate, educate, educate!

My story is not too unlike the stories of my Taiwanese American friends. I was raised in a very politically active family.  I learned to be proud of being Taiwanese at a very young age and being Taiwanese is just a part of who I am. There are many reasons why I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage. The biggest reason is because of the efforts of my father and my father’s friends. They have spent, and continue to spend, countless hours, days, and years fighting for the right of the people in Taiwan to speak for themselves, to create their own identity. At the risk of their own reputations (being blacklisted), being jailed, beaten, tortured and even killed, they have fought for the people in Taiwan. Throughout my life, in high school, college, and through graduate school, I eagerly joined the cause. I vividly remember my mother telling me to make sure my name tag was turned around at the Taiwanese American Conference (TAC/EC) because that year the Chinese had sent spies to write down every conference participant’s name.

As I grow older, especially now that I have my own family, my focus in life has changed. Even meeting other Taiwanese Americans and making new Taiwanese American friends has fallen by the wayside. I now have the important task of raising children in America, while at the same time educating them on their heritage. Do I expect that they will have a visceral tie to Taiwan? Not in the least. However, if I have learned anything from the plight of the Taiwanese, it is that they should be allowed to explore who they are and discover their own identities in their own time.

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

For me, this is a very interesting question which poses other interesting questions.

Being born and raised in the United States in a small, predominantly Caucasian (99%) town, we have chosen yet another small predominantly Caucasian town in which to raise our 3rd generation Taiwanese American children. My parents made the effort to expose me to their Taiwanese friends’ children. The only exposure my children (currently) have to other Taiwanese Americans are their relatives. My 1st language was Taiwanese.  My children’s 1st language is English. Growing up, my grandparents, aunts and uncles lived in Taiwan. My children’s grandparents, aunts and uncles live in the United States.

Already the delineation of being Taiwanese American and being American of Taiwanese descent is widening.

I am sure that it is (an unspoken) 1st generation parent’s “dream” that their 2nd generation child marry someone of Taiwanese descent. However, the question is, how does this trickle down in generations? I do not hold that ideal of my children.

For sure, it is unique (in the eyes of general America) to see an Asian child who speaks no other language fluently than English, who has parents who also speak no other language than English. The unfortunate reality is that our children will be stereotyped in much the same way as we were as children.

In our family, the exposure of the 3rd generation to Taiwanese culture falls primarily on the shoulders of their grandparents. Already, I am personally more American than I am Taiwanese. Are my children really 3rd generation Taiwanese American or American of Taiwanese descent? Hopefully, the answer to this question will become clear when they grow up to be adults.

Lastly, we know, or can safely assume in some respects, that if you are a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, you have parents that can speak a handful of different languages (English, Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Japanese), have probably attended one or more or have at least heard of the multitude of Taiwanese American conferences around the country, have had to correct the aforementioned equations, know what Taiwanese food tastes like, and how to say at least a few words in Taiwanese. I can only hope that one or more of these characteristics will be a part of the identity of my 3rd generation Taiwanese American kids.

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George Shaw – Composer

Los Angeles, CA

I play clarinet, piano, guitar, and a variety of exotic woodwind instruments from around the world, and reside in Los Angeles, where it’s possible to surf and snowboard in the same day.

shaw.george3Who are you?

I am a lover of music and film, and am fortunate to combine my two loves in my career as a composer for film and television. I have written music for many independent films, a few trailers (most recently Peacock, which stars Ellen Page and Susan Sarandon), and some webseries (most notably with Wong Fu Productions).

What do you do?

I compose, produce, and arrange music for film, television, and various forms of media. I play clarinet, piano, guitar, and a variety of exotic woodwind instruments from around the world, and reside in Los Angeles, where it’s possible to surf and snowboard in the same day.

I’ve worked on Hollywood and independent films crafting rich orchestral scores to match the visual images on the screen. In the past, I’ve received 3 best score nominations for the 2007 Film & TV Music Awards, won Best Music in a Short at the Garden State Film Festival Movie Music Competition, and 5 Gold Medals at the Park City Film Music Festival.

My TV work includes producing music tracks for performances on AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, and I have licensed music to shows such as AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER, MOMMA’S BOY, MY ANTONIO, and OBSESSED. I have also orchestrated on a number of films, including GHOST RIDER (starring Nicolas Cage), DARWIN AWARDS (starring Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes), KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG (starring Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr.), ROBOTECH: THE SHADOW CHRONICLES, and CHASING GHOSTS (starring Michael Madsen).

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation, and love Taiwanese food! Especially Beef Noodle Soup. I visited Taiwan last summer for a wedding and all I did was eat. There’s also a pretty large Taiwanese American community in Los Angeles, and I have met some amazing people through the community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Hear my music at my website: georgeshawmusic.com

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Strong Chuang – Paper Engineer, Scientist, and 1st Generation Independence Activist

Cincinnati, OH

I am the first generation to have immigrated from Taiwan in 1965. I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage…

chuang.strong1Who are you?

I was born on January 1st, 1939 in Taiwan as a Japanese Citizen. After Japan was defeated in World War II, the Taiwanese were all brainwashed by the new occupier from China as Chinese Citizens. I awakened from such brain washing after coming to the US in 1965. Ever since then, I have involved myself in the struggle for Taiwanese Independence. I co-founded (with comrades) the United Formosans in America for Independence (UFAI) in 1965, which renamed itself as World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) in 1970. I have served as Central Committee member, Vice Chairman and Chairman of WUFI in the past 45 years striving for the establishment of a free, democratic and independent Taiwan nation.

What do you do?

I obtained my engineering MS degree from Kansas State University in 1967 and Ph.D. degree from Purdue University in 1970. I then worked for Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati for 19 years as a paper making engineer / scientist. I then changed companies, working for Scott Paper and Kimberly-Clark Company until retirement in 2002. I have around 20 inventions all related to paper making technology.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am the first generation to have immigrated from Taiwan in 1965. I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage and in the peoples’ desire to be free, democratic and independent citizens in the global village. But I am not that proud that still so many Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans are not working hard enough to strive for achieving such objectives.

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

I have a dream that one day that Taiwanese Americans will not be confused themselves as parts of Chinese American. For example, I encouraged my children to change the spelling of their last names from the Chinese phonetic spelling (Chuang) to the Taiwanese phonetic spelling (Chng), so that future generations of their offspring will not have their ancestry confused with those from China.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Read my editorial for the Taipei Times from Sunday, Mar 29, 2009: “Saving Taiwan, One Letter at a Time

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2009/03/29/2003439679

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Lynn Chen – Actor

Los Angeles, CA

There’s really no words to describe exactly why I love acting, but I do know that when I’m doing it I’m incredibly happy and fulfilled.

chen.lynn2Who are you?

I’m an actress, best known for my role as “Vivian Shing” in the movie “Saving Face,” recognized as the 2005 Golden Horse Viewer’s Choice.

I started performing at a very young age, when I was five years old, and it’s all I’ve ever known. It feels like home to me. As a child, I sang with the Children’s Choirs at the Metropolitan and NYC Opera Houses, and made my acting debut in the NY State Theatre production of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center.

I’m in the independent film, “The People I’ve Slept With,” which is currently playing film festivals all around the world, and I’m now shooting “Surrogate Valentine.”

I can also be seen in “Mentor,” “I’m Through With White Girls,” and Neil LaBute’s “Lakeview Terrace,” alongside Samuel L. Jackson, all available on DVD. Also, “X’s and O’s” and “Why Am I Doing This” will both be available on DVD soon. “White on Rice” will be available on Video on Demand nationwide starting June 1st. My television credits include “Numbers,” guest roles on almost all of the “Law and Order” shows, and recurring roles in “All My Children” and “The Singles Table,” opposite John Cho and Alicia Silverstone.

What do you do?

I enjoy being creative and interacting with an audience. There’s really no words to describe exactly why I love acting, but I do know that when I’m doing it I’m incredibly happy and fulfilled. I also have a love / hate relationship with the nomadic / unscheduled lifestyle of an actor; making my own schedule is cool and working for only a few months a year is great… but talk about nerve-wracking, unpredictable, and stressful!

In addition to acting in films and on television, I blog daily at “The Actors Diet” – www.theactorsdiet.com. I started the blog for a few reasons –to give me something to do creatively on a daily basis (an actor’s life can be very boring), to be out in the open about my eating disorder history, and to explore this myth that actors need to go on crazy diets to look camera-ready. The blog is a daily look into the challenges and struggles we all have with food, but actors in particular have added pressure because our jobs rely on the way we look. I wanted to show a positive, healthy spin on that.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 2nd generation. My father was born in Taiwan and my mother grew up there. I have such fond memories of visiting Taiwan throughout my youth. I’m sure it’s so different now from when I was there as a kid. We always went in the summer, so I remember it being very hot, with sudden downpours. I loved visiting with family, riding around on scooters, and watching Asian MTV. I remember sleeping on hard beds and being told to drink hot soup to cool off. But I’m sure the things I would experience there now would be different, as an adult. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to go since I was 18.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese food is Sao Bing You Tiao dipped in warm soy milk!

My website: http://lynnchen.com

The Actors Diet Blog: www.theactorsdiet.com

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Tsuann Kuo – Professor, Community Leader, and Advocate for Seniors

Los Angeles, CA or Taichung, Taiwan

I often help community organizations to develop programs and train volunteers to better serve older adults…

kuo.tsuann2Who are you?

I am a gerontologist who teaches and practices eldercare in both the U.S. and Taiwan. Being bilingual and bicultural allows me to help Taiwanese and Taiwanese American families in dealing with family care-giving issues and future long-term care planning.

While receiving several honors such as serving as the national delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 2005, I am most proud to have been selected as “Local Hero of the Year” in 2006 by Los Angeles area TV station KCET and “Our Role Model” by TV station LA18. Though these honors recognized my volunteer work, I feel it has been more important and beneficial to highlight the special contributions and heritage of the Taiwanese Americans for the LA area audience to see.

As I look to the future, I envision myself serving as a bridge to promote cultural and research exchanges between Taiwan and USA.

What do you do?

I enjoy my life most when I volunteer in the community. I often help community organizations to develop programs and train volunteers to better serve older adults, and I see myself advocating for Taiwan by introducing unique cultural and arts programs at the international level.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 1.5 generation who has the best of two worlds by having both American and Taiwanese influences. The Taiwanese influence allows me to work hard while the American influence gives me a global view.

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

A rainbow of talents and ethnic mixes with a strong Taiwanese pride.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese food is “ba-won”, sticky rice ball with meat inside.

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Jeff Yang – Newspaper Columnist, Cultural Critic, and Proud Dad

Brooklyn, NY

As a second-generation Taiwanese American, I’ve watched as the idea of Taiwan has waned and waxed in popular culture and on the political landscape.

yang.jeff1Who are you?

I was born in Brooklyn to Taiwanese parents—Bailing and David, from Changhua and Zhushan respectively; my mom is a social-worker-turned-real-estate-broker, and my dad retired some years ago as the head of the Radiology Department at Brooklyn’s Methodist Hospital. I have a younger sister, who ended up being the white sheep to my dark grey sheep: She’s a doctor (also at Methodist Hospital!), spent half a decade in Taiwan working and becoming fluent in Chinese, then came home, got married and had two kids before I did either. I went to Harvard University, where I first encountered two things that have shaped my life since—the wider Asian American community, and the world of journalism. After spending most of my time in college volunteering for Asian American nonprofits offcampus and working on Asian American student groups on campus—and running Harvard’s only Asian American magazine—I graduated, intending to do much the same thing in the so-called real world as well. From that came the launch of A. Magazine: Inside Asian America, which over the decade or so I ran it grew to several hundred thousand readers throughout North America; sadly, it was a victim of the dot-com era, after we accepted a lot of money to bring it online, and were then forced into a merger with a bigger web company that subsequently went sour. Since then, I’ve spent my time tracking the evolution of the Asian cultural experience, in America and around the world.

What do you do?

I’m the classic jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, I suppose. In addition to editing and publishing A. Magazine for 12 years, I’ve written four books, most recently the graphic novel anthology SECRET IDENTITIES (www.secretidentities.org); I’ve developed the Emmy-nominated TV show STIR for Comcast’s cable networks; I’ve been a semi-regular contributor on the radio for a number of NPR radio programs; and for the past five years, I’ve written (and continue to write) the column “Asian Pop” for the San Francisco Chronicle and their online version SFGate.com.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a second-generation Taiwanese American, I’ve watched as the idea of Taiwan has waned and waxed in popular culture and on the political landscape. I remember a period when everyone was focused on Taiwan’s booming economy, and its ability to offset the threat of a rising China. I also remember having Taiwan so far off the radar that everyone constantly conflated it with Thailand. Through all of that, and through many past years of tumult and turbulence and occupation and isolation, Taiwan has always survived, as a country, as a culture and as an identity. Today, with the Mainland looming ever larger, Taiwan’s fate has seemed opaque. But the resourcefulness of its people have turned a tense situation into opportunity, as it always has in the past. I’m confident in Taiwan’s resilience, and proud to call it my ancestral home.

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

I think the future of Taiwanese America looks bright. Our parents have worked so hard to lay a foundation for our success; we, in turn, have tried to reward them (or even simply satisfy them) with our achievements. But the real promise is in the generation coming after: My kids and all of our kids, who with any luck will inherit both the work ethic and aspiration of their grandparents, and the flexibility and open-mindedness of their parents. God forbid it be the other way around!

(Just kidding, Mom and Dad!)

Any additional information you would like to share?

Here’s a link to my column archive: http://www.sfgate.com/columns/asianpop/archive/
Here’s a link to my personal blog: http://originalspin.posterous.com
Here’s a link to SECRET IDENTITIES: http://www.secretidentities.org
Feel free to friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/originalspin
Follow me on Twitter!: @originalspin

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Patricia Huang – Student, Entrepreneur, and Adventurer

Los Angeles, CA

The sense of community with Taiwanese is so strong! Taiwan will always be home and will always have a special place in my heart.

huang.patricia3Who are you?

I’m currently a Senior at USC, majoring in Communication. I’ve also co-founded a company promoting a Tibetan skincare product with my sister in 2007, when we were inspired by a local skin salve on a trip in Tibet. The Tibetan skin salve we discovered there was amazing –its quality is unparalleled compared to what we have here, so we jumped on the opportunity. Now there’s ShangraLily.com. Be sure to check it out!

I’m quirky. I love intellectual conversation. I’m captivated with science and psychology. I love learning about different cultures –the world is a fascinating place and I love exploring it.

What do you do?

Life balance. Trying to find the right combination and balance of work, adventure, learning, sport, school, people, friends and family. For adventure, my friends and I traveled to different places with cameras such as sand surfing on the Kelso Dunes at the Mojave Desert, search for a WWII fighter pilot graveyard at the Salton Sea, explore a secret underground rain tunnel for the fabled graffiti artist den in Irvine. For sport, I recently picked up Aerialism (acrobatics on silk rope), after an intermission earning a blackbelt in Taekwando. On top of that, I’ve been meeting so many amazing people that it’s been a challenge juggling everything.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 2nd generation Taiwanese, born in San Gabriel, moved to Taiwan for 8 years of school, then came to LA for college. Even though it’s been awhile, meeting another Taiwanese is like meeting another member of the family. The sense of community with Taiwanese is so strong! Taiwan will always be home and will always have a special place in my heart. The night markets, the shopping, the beaches, tv shows, 路邊攤!! Can’t wait to go back!

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Grace Fong – Concert Pianist

Long Beach, CA

To me, the Taiwanese people are a free people –a people who represent strength, independence, and kindness.

fong.grace1Who are you?

I am a happy Taiwanese American woman who was born and raised in Southern California by hard-working Taiwanese parents. They came to America in1977 and a couple years later, began raising me as a girl with Taiwanese traditional values in an American culture. I appreciate that I can speak Taiwanese and Mandarin fluently! My parents provided the support for me to grow up as a person with high ambitions and passion no matter what I pursue. I strive to make as many positive and kind contributions to this world!

What do you do?

I am a Concert Pianist and the Chair of the Piano Department at Chapman Conservatory of Music at Chapman University in Orange County, teaching college students. Most of my days involve teaching or traveling and performing, which I all love! I’ve performed internationally as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician and have gained critical acclaim in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia, making appearances at major venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Phillips Collection, Hollywood Bowl. Some of my radio/television broadcasts have included British Broadcasting Company, the “Emerging Young Artists” series in New York, and “Performance Today” on National Public Radio. I was previously awarded a medal of honor as a Presidential Scholar of the United States by former President Clinton, and most recently, I am proud to have won one of America’s most prestigious piano awards, the 2009 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellowship of the American Pianists Association. This summer, I am being sent by the United States State Department to represent the United States to perform in Uruguay, Montevideo, and to perform at the Ambassador’s home.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a U.S. born, I have always been proud to say that I am “Taiwanese American.” My family tree includes a line of entirely enthusiastic Taiwanese people! I am able to speak Taiwanese because my grandma lived with my family during my childhood –this shows the typical familial love that is so strong in the culture. To me, the Taiwanese people are a free people –a people who represent strength, independence, and kindness. When I visit Taiwan every couple of years, I am always reminded of the loving and bonded culture Taiwan represents, not to mention that I can never get enough Taiwanese food!

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

I have noticed a strong, young population of Taiwanese Americans who are fervent about Taiwanese rights and awareness, and I think the future looks positive and optimistic! Hopefully soon there will be a “Taiwanese American” checkbox that replaces “Other Asian,” and hopefully there will be a team “Taiwan” in the Olympics instead of team “Chinese Taipei.” My hopes are to preserve and share Taiwanese culture, tradition, and language. I am proud to be able to speak Taiwanese fluently and hope to pass it on to my children in the future.

Any additional information you would like to share?

www.pianistgracefong.com

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Tim Chng – Software Developer and Old School Activist

Baltimore, MD

All people should be proud of their historical roots. Due to Taiwan’s current struggle to be recognized in the world, it is important for people of Taiwanese heritage to be more vocal so that others are made aware of Taiwan’s existence.

chng.tim1Who are you?

I am a human being doing his best to make a positive impact in this world. In the past as a Taiwanese American activist, I helped start the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) and was a part of the movement for Taiwan’s self determination in the 1990s. In the present, I am dedicated towards raising my three children to be balanced contributing members of our world while knowing their roots in both Taiwan and Singapore. In the future, my hopes are the same as my past and now.

What do you do?

To provide for my family, I work as a software developer for Ebay. We have chosen to raise our children in Baltimore city so that my children will also be aware of the social inequities that are visible in the urban decay of the Baltimore ghetto. My priority is to fulfill the responsibilities of being a good son, father and husband with the hope that the people around me are able to not only meet their potential but also find balance within this world.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

All people should be proud of their historical roots. Due to Taiwan’s current struggle to be recognized in the world, it is important for people of Taiwanese heritage to be more vocal so that others are made aware of Taiwan’s existence.  For Taiwanese people in the world not to assert themselves, they may lose what freedoms they currently enjoy and the challenge of life may only be more difficult without those freedoms.

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

Taiwanese America is a growing and vibrant identity which is rooted in Taiwan’s future. As long as Taiwan has a growing and vibrant community, Taiwanese Americans will have a foundation to grow and develop.

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Sophia Yen – Co-Founder of SheHeroes, Pediatrician, and Advocate

Los Altos, CA

My father came from humble beginnings and my mother sacrificed so that we could be in the United States, and luckily, they accomplished the American Dream.

yen.sophia1Who are you?

I am a co-founder of SheHeroes, a non-profit started by three women that want to show tweens that young women can grow up and be whatever they work hard towards. We are starting in Denver and going city to city as we raise funds.

I am a pediatrician who took another three years to specialize in teenagers. I am board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. I advocate for adolescents’ reproductive rights and other rights.

I am a mother to two Taiwanese-Korean-American girls and daughter to great Taiwanese Americans.

What do you do?

SheHeroes is about youth development. We have teenagers interview local “SheHeroes” (aiming for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and other fields in which women are under-represented) and thus they get to meet and be inspired by these local SheHeroes and make a connection. Our content is free on the web for PTAs, after school programs, parents, schools, anyone to use and see and benefit from.

I see patients in my clinic and teach medical students, residents, fellows how to take care of teenagers. I advocate for my patients. I serve on the board of the Center for Reproductive Rights. I am politically active both locally and nationally.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation. I am proud to be Taiwanese because that is the country from which my parents came from. My father came from humble beginnings and my mother sacrificed so that we could be in the United States, and luckily, they accomplished the American Dream.

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

I hope that we become a strong political force. I hope that we can help Taiwan achieve a democracy, and I want lots of Taiwanese Americans in prominent positions in various fields e.g. movie stars, lawyers, supreme court justices, heads of companies, heads of governments, with power and money yet doing good work too!

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love boba, shaved ice, bah genh (excuse my bastardization of the language), bah won, en chen.

Perhaps I am the first Taiwanese American to be invited to the illustrious Renaissance Weekend –where the presidents and others play football and you get to hang with Nobel laureates, etc. Why? Probably because my husband and I are the only ones crazy enough to donate at the level we have donated to the Democratic party at our age.

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Erica Ling – Student Leader and ITASA 2010 West Coast Conference Director

Hacienda Heights, CA

We as Taiwanese Americans are in a position to create our own unique narrative.

ling.erica1Who are you?

I’m a senior at UC San Diego majoring in International Studies-Political Science with a secondary concentration in Sociology, and a minor in Chinese Studies. Born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, I’ve pretty much been a southern California girl all my life. Luckily I’ve always been able to maintain a strong connection to my Taiwanese heritage; as a little kid I even picked up on the Taiwanese language just from hearing it being spoken around the house! I love to stay busy and I’m known to always have to-do lists that I’m constantly checking off. But when I have free time I enjoy shopping, reading, traveling, watching movies, and trying out new restaurants. I also played golf in high school and I’ve been trying to start it back up again!

What do you do?

Aside from being a regular college student, I consider myself very lucky to be able to dedicate my time to the Taiwanese community. What started out as a “road trip” up to Stanford University for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) 2007 West Coast Conference turned into a deep commitment to practically all things Taiwanese American! I was the Culture Chair and Vice President of UCSD TASA, a 2008 Formosa Foundation Ambassador, and a 2009 TACL Political Intern at Senator Barbara Boxer’s office. Last month I completed my position as Co-Director of the ITASA 2010 West Coast Conference, which was hosted at UCSD for the very first time. Never had I imagined that my involvement would extend so far into the community, but I’m eternally grateful for all the things I’ve learned, opportunities I’ve had, and amazing people I’ve met. I honestly can’t imagine these past four years better spent doing anything else!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As cheesy as this may sound, I’m proud to be 2nd generation Taiwanese because I believe that the story of the Taiwanese people defines love in its most genuine form. The love for the island’s unique culture, freedom, and a faith in the human condition inspired the Taiwanese people to fight for democracy and self-identity. It’s with this same unwavering passion that Taiwan continues its struggles for recognition in the world today. It’s with this same inexplicable love that motivates the Taiwanese American community to build and strengthen its sense of identity. Love for Taiwan, unconditional in all its variously manifested forms, has proven to be the glue that holds everything together. I feel like that’s where the term “ai daiwan” comes from!

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

I think everyone who is involved in the community is inspired by a love for Taiwan, but I also believe that everyone has their own ideas on how to best contribute and make improvements. Thus as we all work to expand this amazing community, I hope to see an increase in cooperation, sincerity, compassion, and understanding for each other. We as Taiwanese Americans are in a position to create our own unique narrative. And if we want a day to come when we can assert our identity without sparking rounds of debate and controversy, then our community needs to form a collective voice that is based on the same tolerance and respect that we want from the rest of the world.

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Eric Hsu – Rock Musician

Oakland, CA

I use my heritage to my advantage – to stand out as being different, as being unique, and also to serve as a role model that Asian Americans don’t always have to hide behind their books.

hsu.eric3Who are you?

I am, and have been, a passionate rock musician for nearly 20 years. Playing in a rock band wasn’t the most popular nor acceptable choice of career with any Asian American parents. But when one realizes his/her passion, it’s like a freight train that can’t be stopped. I formed my first band in 1992 to compete in the high school talent show. We took first place. And from that moment on, I knew I would spend the rest of my life writing, recording and performing. My band today is called Johnny Hi-Fi.

What do you do?

My life today is all about balance. Music today isn’t a career of which most people can live off. I work as an art director during the day to support myself financially, then I pursue my music career at night. Running a band is like running a business. We’re a typical DIY band that handles booking, promoting and everything in-between by ourselves. So on average I spend 40 hours at work, and 40 works writing, recording and managing the band. (And what little time I have left I spend eating and sleeping.)

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

In a non-Asian dominated world of entertainment here in America, to be able to break through and perform alongside some of the biggest musical acts is a huge accomplishment in itself. I don’t use my heritage as an excuse to be rejected, to be mediocre. I use my heritage to my advantage – to stand out as being different, as being unique, and also to serve as a role model that Asian Americans don’t always have to hide behind their books. And in doing so, my Taiwanese American heritage has helped and pushed my music career along further than if I was just another one in the pack.

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

Taiwanese America, and Asian America in general, has a very bright future. As more of us start to explore and advance in non-traditional industries such as the movies, music, politics or what have you, the more this will evolve into a social movement that will be recognized. The future, and present, has to and will be about breaking stereotypes. And when they are broken, the next wave of creative minds will find the doors to success more open than ever before.

Any additional information you would like to share?

About Johnny Hi-Fi:

With numerous US and Asia tours under their belt, Johnny Hi-Fi’s alternative rock sound has captured fans all over. From the House-of-Blues US tour to the band’s video reaching #8 on MTV Chi’s top 10 video charts, all the attention helped them land the “Artist of the Month” spot on Billboard Magazine’s Underground series and a feature in the magazine. In 2006, the band went on to perform in front of 20,000 audience members at the Beijing Pop Festival. To date, the band has released 3 full length albums and working on their 4th.

Visit www.johnnyhi-fi.com for more info.

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Judy Sun – Former Chairwoman of the Midwest Asian American Students Union

Columbus, OH

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American and former National Board member of the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA), I am proud to be a part of a close-knit community that does not depend on proximity to be close.

sun.judy1Who are you?

I am a senior at The Ohio State University (OSU). I will be graduating June 2010 with a B.S. in Finance and Minor in Chinese. I’m moving to Jacksonville, Texas for a one-year job rotation with Cardinal Health, and will most likely end up back in Ohio eventually. I was born and raised in Hudson, Ohio and grew up speaking Mandarin and English. I used to go back to Taiwan often to visit family and attend summer programs (i.e. 國語日報 and OCAC 2006). While I love conversing (with parents especially) in Mandarin and watched many Taiwanese dramas back in the day, I don’t think I understood much about my culture or truly embraced my Taiwanese American identity till I got to college.

What do you do?

I like to sing, edit things (i.e. resumes and personal statements), and say/do crazy things to make people laugh/smile. I love meeting new people and asking probing questions about them, helping them connect with others in my network, and being a resource to them. I consider myself to be blessed with my experiences during my undergraduate career and want to share the wealth of knowledge! I was Chairwoman of the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) during the 2009-2010 academic year, and helped plan the MAASU 2010 Spring Conference at OSU. After attending my first MAASU conference my freshman year and 3 years of dreaming, I can happily leave OSU without regrets. I currently don’t hold any leadership positions of anything, but I enjoy being involved even as an active member or on a volunteer basis… that’s where it usually begins, right?

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American and former National Board member of the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA), I am proud to be a part of a close-knit community that does not depend on proximity to be close. I had the opportunity to attend the ITASA 2010 Midwest Conference at UT-Austin this year. While it was my first time in Texas and meeting everyone, they felt just like family. This wasn’t the first time I went somewhere completely new yet felt connected with the Taiwanese people I met.

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

After all our efforts to get Taiwanese Americans to check “Other Asian: Taiwanese” on their 2010 Census forms, I see an abundance of fruit that will be ripe for the picking in the near future!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Wherever you are, if you’re interested in becoming involved with MAASU or attending the Fall Leadership Retreat or Spring Conference (both are in Minnesota), please visit www.maasu.org! Also, if you live in Texas I could use some friends in the area… [email protected]

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Ming-Hui Lin – Cellist

Allston, MA

I am a musician so it would be great to show people over here what our music is like and how the two cultures can be blended together to inspire a whole new world.

lin.minghui1Who are you?

I am Ming-Hui Lin, a musician in the New England area and also a devoted community social worker. I am also a part of the Taiwan Women organization. Taiwan Women is a network founded in 1995 to facilitate communication and co-operation among Taiwanese women studying or living abroad who are interested in gender issues and current situation of Taiwanese women. By discussing gender-related issues and sharing our experiences, we hope to cultivate a channel of female voices. We hope to strengthen the solidarity of our sisterhood so we may combat gender inequality and succeed in shaping a new beautiful Taiwanese society!

What do you do?

I am currently pursuing a degree on Doctor of Musical Arts at Boston University, studying with Leslie Parnas. I am also a devoted teacher and outreach program representative. I received degrees from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University (GPD, 07; MM, 05) and the Taipei National University of the Arts (BM, 03).

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan is very unique in many ways, and it is an important icon not only for Asia but globally. I am the only one in the family who is in the States and I would like to show people that it is so great to be Taiwanese. I am proud of it!

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

I am a musician so it would be great to show people over here what our music is like and how the two cultures can be blended together to inspire a whole new world. One day, I would also like to see that we can just tell people that Taiwan is not a part of China without a doubt.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Visit my website: www.minghuilin.com


Charles Chiau – Robotics Engineer

Berkeley, CA

I want to spend my life using robotic technology to explore and share that experience with our next generation to enable them to dream of what we haven’t thought about yet.

chiau.charles1Who are you?

I am mash between a FOB and an ABC, simply because I’ve moved between the US and Taiwan multiple times, and have grown up under heavy influences of both worlds. While growing up, I spent seven years in Philadelphia, six years in Taiwan, came back to the US for high school, college and now have a career in undersea robotics. My family has always been in Taiwan, and moving around by myself has allowed me to see the world from a pure trial and error point of view, while learning how to make decisions, becoming independent, and trying to figure out a purpose for life. I belong in both Taiwanese and American cultures, but at the same time I feel I don’t belong in either. Because I float around, I’ve met a lot of people and by living through their experiences it has made me aware of how incredibly different the world is; that “who we are” is simply defined by our own definitions of success and the drive to achieve that success.

My passion, simply put, is developing robotic technologies that help people. My purpose is to leave some kind of legacy in technology that will enable us to do greater things while providing an infrastructure to help the next generation of engineers. Lastly, I want to make sure that, with the benefits of technology, we as people don’t lose what makes us human. We must remind ourselves that life is full of people, emotions, joy, fun, and good times. Play hard, and don’t work so much.

What do you do?

I build stuff, whether it flies, drives, goes in and out of the water, walks, you name it. I’ve worked on DARPA military projects involving building robot suits similar to Robocop or mech warrior; built autonomous cars that race themselves; built the three luxury submarines that are out there on yachts of Tom Perkins and Richard Branson. I’ve also built three unmanned submarines for UC Berkeley with a Navy contract.

However, the true goal behind all this is so I can gain experience and knowledge in the field of engineering to mentor the next generation. I also am out to break the stereotypes of “the engineer.” Just because I’m a geek doesn’t mean I’m boring.

I’m outgoing, and I love random activities. I was part of a hip hop dance crew, I fly radio controlled aircraft, and I love the water, going clubbing, and being a counselor for summer camps. I believe that I can make a difference with robotics, and at the same time, I want to spend my life using robotic technology to explore and share that experience with our next generation to enable them to dream of what we haven’t thought about yet. I hope to provide the tools for them to accomplish that when their time has come.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 1st generation, strictly speaking, since I was born in Taiwan. This is what I remember and cherish about being Taiwanese: There’s this bond we develop in school due to its system. Forty of us are stuck in one room, for two or three years depending on grade level. Everyone grows up together in a tight knit group working toward a common goal, and it’s something that I haven’t experienced here in the States. Every time I go back to Taiwan, the greatest memories are awakened by the purity of friendship. It’s the environment, it’s depicted in film, and it’s a common connection that is understood but can’t be put in words. It’s simply that experience during my elementary and middle school years that reminds me of how beautiful life and people are –a very pure kind of love that even after 10 years hasn’t changed one bit. It’s something I cannot replace nor wish to trade with anything in my life. It’s the stories and memories that make me proud.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I just wanted to say, I’m very proud of what TaiwaneseAmerican.org has accomplished as well as all the affiliate organizations. It brings me closer to home.

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Monica Chen – Student and Founder of her High School Taiwanese Club

Los Angeles, CA

A typical day in my life involves dreaming up different events and programs I can organize with my club to engage a sense of identity and self-confidence in Taiwanese Americans.

chen.monica1Who are you?

I am a typical nerdy Asian high school student who also happens to hold a great passion for the Taiwanese culture. With some prodding from my wonderful mother, I somewhat apathetically started a Taiwanese culture club at my high school called ‘Team Taiwan’. And then things just fell into place. Now I am a facebook fan of Formosa Betrayed, Taiwanation, Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Taiwanese American Citizens League, TaiwaneseAmerican.org… My room is filled with Taiwanese Census 2010 posters. I suscribe to the ‘Taiwan Matters’ blog. I am a past attendee of the 2010 Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association West Coast Conference. I am a proud Taiwanese American!

What do you do?

I spend a lot of time thinking about Taiwan instead of studying. A typical day in my life involves dreaming up different events and programs I can organize with my club to engage a sense of identity and self-confidence in Taiwanese Americans. I also spend time stalking super Taiwanese American celebrities on Facebook, like Actor Adam Wang (pictured below). And when the opportunity presents itself, I share my views on Taiwan and Taiwanese America with people, especially those who are unfamiliar with Taiwan or don’t even know that this beautiful island exists.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I think Taiwanese people have a great bonding quality and have such a strong sense of community and family; it’s this aspect of the Taiwanese heritage that I take the most pride in. As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I have grown up in a somewhat blended culture and sometimes it was hard to understand the decisions and choices that my parents or grandparents or other 1st generation Taiwanese people made. But when I look back on those decisions, I now realize the strong work ethic Taiwanese people have and the great passion they have towards establishing their identity, and I am proud to identify myself with this amazing community.

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

Looking at the work of people like Ho Chie Tsai or the young organizers of the ITASA conferences across the nation, the future of Taiwanese America, to me, looks very bright! I’m excited to see what’s in store. If ABT’s continue to recognize the importance of their Taiwanese American heritage and sharing it with the world, the possibilities are endless!

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love stinky tofu! Still trying to find the money to buy one of TaiwaneseAmerican.org’s T-shirts. I also love Michael Turton’s blog http://michaelturton.blogspot.com. He’s really funny and even if I don’t understand what some of his posts are talking about, there’s always some interesting biking photos to look at.

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Shawna Yang Ryan – Writer and Teacher

Berkeley, CA

I hope that we will continue to reimagine and reinvent who is “Taiwanese American” for the future generation, who may not look like us, but who will carry our values and dreams.

yangryan.shawna2Who are you?

I’m a native Californian of mixed-race descent. From my classes at City College to hours spent in front of my desk, I live and breathe words. My novel, Water Ghosts, was released in hardcover by Penguin Press in 2009 –the culmination of many years of hard work. I’m also proud dog-mama to three rescue dogs.

What do you do?

I am a fiction writer and teacher. I write fiction about the intersections of love, race, and history. I teach writing in the Asian Pacific American Student Success program at City College of San Francisco. Both of these jobs further my life’s goals: to help people think critically about their place in the world, and educate them about the agency they own against seemingly immoveable forces.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My mother was born in Taichung, Taiwan. For many years, I had only a vague idea of Taiwan. In 1999, after graduating from college, I spent the first of four years living in Taiwan and learned what sets Taiwan apart historically and culturally from all other places. Coming late to my knowledge of Taiwan has allowed me a deep and critical appreciation for the tenacious spirit that characterizes the island. Daiwan jia-you!

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

Like no other place in the world, America gives people the chance to rethink and reimagine the various intersections of ethnic and national identity. In the three years since I first discovered TaiwaneseAmerican.org, I’ve watched dramatic change in the expression and accomplishments of the Taiwanese American community. The future of Taiwanese America is broad –I hope that we will continue to reimagine and reinvent who is “Taiwanese American” for the future generation, who may not look like us, but who will carry our values and dreams.

Any additional information you would like to share?

www.shawnayangryan.com

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Michael Lin – Culinary Connoisseur and Tour Guide

Arcadia, CA

I am passionate about learning more about Taiwanese history, culture, and language. I share my knowledge of Taiwanese food on weekend tours in the San Gabriel Valley!

lin.michael2Who are you?

I am a culinary connoisseur. I am an adventure seeker. I am a teacher of all things Taiwanese; I am a student of life. I am human; I make mistakes. I am a writer; I am a traveler. I am the example on the disembarkation card used at Customs & Immigration at Taoyuan Airport. I am Michael, and I am Taiwanese American.

What do you do?

What do I do? I am a food tour guide! I am passionate about learning more about Taiwanese history, culture, and language. I share my knowledge of Taiwanese food on weekend tours in the San Gabriel Valley! I take guests to taste some of the best Taiwanese food that LA has to offer through a company called SixTaste.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Of the 300 million people living in America, only about 1 million of us can call ourselves Taiwanese American. But for the relatively small group of us here, we have taken our roots in Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, and we balance the best of our diverse roots. We are renowned filmmakers, talented musicians, innovative entrepreneurs, and famous chefs. Our influence continues to grow, and that is why I am proud to be a hanchii (sweet potato) in America.

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

The future of Taiwanese America rides on our ability to make a mark on society.  A unique characteristic of Taiwanese America is our innate creativity and our ability to distinguish ourselves and stand apart from the norm. From business innovations to political endeavors to culinary conquests, and more, if Taiwanese Americans continue doing what we do best, the future of Taiwanese America will sprawl from coast to coast.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Taiwanese snacks are the best! Wah kuei (bowl-shaped rice cake), uh-ah jen (oyster omelette), and stinky tofu… no one culture has snacks like us! If you can’t tell already, I love food.

My food and travel blog is here: http://www.sofatblog.blogspot.com
Visit LA-based SixTaste at: http://sixtaste.com


Jason Jung – Collegiate Varsity Tennis Player

Ann Arbor, MI

… we are the new voice for our parents and ancestors, and the fact that there are so many of us willing to speak out for Taiwan is special.

jung.jason4Who are you?

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan. The biggest thing in my life that has helped shape me to who I am today is, tennis. I have been playing tennis since I was four, I am still playing tennis competitively as a member of the University of Michigan tennis team. Tennis has allowed me the chance to travel to countries like Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, Brazil, and more. While playing in Asia, I made many friendships with the Taiwanese players. It gave me a chance to practice my Taiwanese and it gave my new Taiwanese friends a chance to practice English. But the one thing that always struck me was that my Taiwanese tennis friends were representing Chinese Taipei and not Taiwan.

What do you do?

I am student-athlete at the University of Michigan. There are four things that I do on a day to day basis and that’s eat, study, play tennis, and sleep (sometimes). I think I could say that I’m not your normal college student.

If I do have free time though, I love to watch the Travel channel and the Food network channel. Which means that I love to cook, although cooking is not one of my strongest attributes.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan is part of me, it is a part of my family. I am a second generation Taiwanese and I believe that tennis has given me the opportunity to represent my Taiwanese heritage. Where ever I go I tell people that I am a Taiwanese American, and if certain people don’t know about Taiwan and its cultural history, I’ll tell them. I am also proud that there are many 2nd generations that have a strong Taiwanese identity. Almost all the college campuses that I’ve been to, have some sort of Taiwanese club or group. It’s special to me, because we are the new voice for our parents and ancestors, and the fact that there are so many of us willing to speak out for Taiwan is special.

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

Me: “I am a Taiwanese American”

Person: “Ohhh so you are Chinese?”

This is something that I would like to see changed as soon as possible. The future of Taiwanese America does look promising though. Last June I had the opportunity to participate in the Formosa Foundation Ambassador Program. I had the opportunity to yell and scream at representatives with 30 plus other participants for not taking Taiwan matters more seriously (no just kidding). But really, it was great to rally for Taiwan for two weeks, from issues of human rights to military talks, and to be able to share the experience with other participants who want to see Taiwan grow.

I really do think the future of Taiwanese America is on the right track. I was very impressed with the efforts on the 2010 Census. It’s great to see that so many Taiwanese Americans want to be heard. Also this year, with the release of the movie Formosa Betrayed aimed at those who don’t really understand Taiwan’s deep cultural history, I believe that we as Taiwanese Americans are becoming stronger. More voices are coming out and I believe that is what the future of Taiwanese America needs.

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Carolyn Huang – Ph.D. Student on a Mission to Address World Poverty

Carrboro, NC

I’m particularly interested in African development because extreme poverty has been plaguing the continent for quite some time and I believe we live in an age where it should not.

huang.carolyn1Who are you?

I am a Michigan Taiwanese American who is passionate about studying poverty alleviation in developing countries. I’m currently a student at UNC-Chapel Hill to develop my quantitative skills because I believe solving global issues requires the tools to measure whether solutions are effective or not. My dream is to understand more about what kind of social policies work and help implement them. For this reason, I aspire to conduct high level research, but never forgetting who I am working towards, be it low-income households or vulnerable and at-risk populations. I’m particularly interested in African development because extreme poverty has been plaguing the continent for quite some time and I believe we live in an age where it should not.

What do you do?

During my free time (irony, haha), I love to run and read. I acquired a love for long distance running about 4 years ago, every now and then I motivate myself to train for races. I love reading, especially fiction. I’m fairly open-minded to trying everything once, so at any point in time, you’ll find me engaged in a thousand different activities. The interests that keep cycling around outside of my love for the first two – rock climbing, traveling (especially to Africa), discovering delicious eats around the country, keeping in contact with my friends, volunteering my time for good causes.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be Taiwanese for many reasons – Taiwan is a land of diverse, plentiful talent. Taiwanese people are resilient, creative, innovative, resourceful, agile, dedicated, and most of all, passionate. I believe all people who are associated with our beautiful island are united through passion. Even though the cultural divide can be great between 1st and 2nd gens, I think this is the one element that both sides find universal in each other.

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

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of activism from some of the Taiwanese American community. It is amazing to see individuals take steps to effect changes they want to see in the community. I really hope that this continues – that this inspiration lends itself to others who take steps to create out of their inspiration and it just continues!

Any additional information you would like to share?

Bubble tea is one of the greatest gifts the Taiwanese have given to the world.

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Joz Wang – Blogger and Co-Editor of 8Asians.com

Los Angeles, CA

I feel greatly indebted to my parents and grandparents for all the sacrifices they made so that we could grow up in a land of opportunity and freedom that did not exist in Taiwan.

wang.joz1Who are you?

I am a long-time blogger who embraces social media as a way for people to find their voices –both online and offline.

As one of the Co-Editors of 8Asians, we endeavor to bring Asian Americans voices together online while still highlighting the diversity and differences between us.

What do you do?

With a professional background in marketing, I am currently a Strategy Consultant at an interactive design and technology firm specializing in uniting technology, design and interactive experience into powerful, world-class business solutions. (Translation: We build cool websites which drive our clients’ businesses!)

I also love the arts and am honored to sit on the Board of Directors for East West Players, the nation’s premier Asian American theatre.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

My parents and grandparents are the greatest influences of my life.  Their love and passion for Taiwan is instilled deeply within me, even though I was born and raised in America.  As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I feel greatly indebted to my parents and grandparents for all the sacrifices they made so that we could grow up in a land of opportunity and freedom that did not exist in Taiwan.  Their struggles to fight for democracy in Taiwan inspire me daily.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I am currently researching and working on a book about my family’s work toward Taiwanese democracy during an era of tyranny.

Oh yeah, and I am also known as the “Racist Camera” girl.

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Shannon Liu – Chapter President of Asian Pacific American Law Students Association

Boston, MA

I am pursuing a career in the public sector, particularly employment law, so I can spur positive change in a large scale way in a field that affects everyone.

liu.shannon2Who are you?

I am a law student who seeks to better society through effective communication, legal aid, and a kind heart. I was born in North Carolina, spent most of my life in California, and am currently studying at Boston University in Massachusetts. I am pursuing a career in the public sector, particularly employment law, so I can spur positive change in a large scale way in a field that affects everyone. I am a dedicated person who likes to take on new goals and challenges; my latest goal was running my first marathon. I am always looking for new ways to make a difference and bring smiles to other people.

What do you do?

I am a strong advocate for Asian American culture and networking, which was propagated during college when I tutored in the Los Angeles Chinatown community. After my college experience, I had the opportunity to attend the Overseas Compatriot Youth Formosa Study Tour. This led me to become even more active with my community in law school. I am President of my school’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, planning large scale events and mentoring other Asian law students. I have been called to represent the Asian community often, most particularly lately through publicizing efforts to get more Asians on the National Bone Marrow Registry.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American and I could not be more proud to be able to blend two cultures well. Taiwan is a country that has gone through so much political strife since its beginnings of gaining independence from Japan and the current happenings with China. Through it all, its people have been dedicated to change, progress, and it shows. Taiwan is a gorgeous country that preserves its natural beauty well (e.g. Taroko), but also prides itself on the modern growth of its cities. People are nice, the food is amazing, and most of all, it is a country based on strong ties to the country, even if you don’t live there.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I love everything about Taiwan and the fact that it has so many different landscapes and things to see.  From the harbor at Jian Tan, to bustling Taipei, to beautiful Taroko, and mountainous rocky areas, it is unbelievable what this country offers.

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Ben Ling – TACL National President and Financial Advisor

Hacienda Heights, CA

I served first as a mentor for the TACL Political Internship program, and then I eventually became a two-term President for Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) in LA, helping to advise and develop other TAP Chapters across the country.

ling.ben3Who are you?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American professional living in the LA area. I was born and raised in the East Coast (PA, NJ, upstate NY) until moving to Diamond Bar, CA when I was eight. I’m the youngest of three children with awesome role model parents that are very active in the community. I attended Taiwanese summer conferences and camps starting in elementary school through high school, and did the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) College Political Internship at Congressman Howard Berman’s office in DC.  After attending UC Berkeley where I was active in the fraternity Alpha Xi Omega, I lived in Taiwan for six months after graduation. There, I got to work for Vice President Annette Lu and help with the formation of the NGO Democratic Pacific Union. It was then that I really became more involved with Taiwanese activities, finding my true passion to promote Taiwanese America. I served first as a mentor for the TACL Political Internship program, and then I eventually became a two-term President for Taiwanese American Professionals (TAP) in LA, helping to advise and develop other TAP Chapters across the country.

What do you do?

By day, I’m a Financial Advisor, working with my father on a team helping (mostly Taiwanese) people with their investments and financial goals.  In addition, I currently serve as the National President for the Taiwanese American Citizens League, which aims to improve the quality of life of Taiwanese Americans in the US. Being a by-product of TACL’s programs myself, I hope to see its programs continue to develop our youth to become the next generation of leaders. I invest time into TACL to make sure that our leadership pipeline sustains, the camps continue, the internships (Political, Journalism, and Entertainment) and our young professional TAP networks continue to grow. My passion lies in all things Taiwanese –to help increase our awareness and improve our visibility, and preserve and promote our identity.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation, my parents have always instilled in me my identity as a Taiwanese American, but it really evolved over time through participation in camps, conferences, and learning more about the history and then actually getting to live in Taiwan for 6 months. Ours is a unique identity, and I always feel there’s an additional special connection that can be made compared to other ethnicities when I meet someone else who identifies as Taiwanese.

I’m most proud of my fellow Taiwanese people for the work that they’ve done, for fighting for what we believe in, for helping to bring about democracy in Taiwan, and for bringing recognition and increasing our count in the US. We are a people that stand up for what we believe in, even in the face of adversity and animosity.

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

I hope for a strong and united Taiwanese American community that, although has many different groups, can be similar to the Jewish community in the overall works and things it can accomplish. I also dream that I can be recognized for who I am as a Taiwanese American, and not ever have to deal with questions about the legitimacy of my identity, nor have it confused with other races. This can be further accomplished through seeing more visible Taiwanese Americans in the mainstream, and I dream that many products of our programs will become famous for their achievements!

Any additional information you would like to share?

I’m apparently known for having more Taiwanese related T-shirts than any other clothes, but I’m most proud to wear the shirts that were made to promote the Census. Buy a shirt today!  http://census2010.tacl.org/order.php

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Wendy Hsu – Ethnomusicologist and Musician

Charlottesville, VA

I recently started Dzian!, a NAKASHI (Taiwanese burlesque) band. We play a selection of obscure and popular 1960-1970s tunes ranging from: Taiwanese agogo, Japanese eleki…

hsu.wendy1Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American passionate about music and social life. I work to pursue social justice through education and musical performance.

What do you do?

I am a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Virginia. I’m writing a dissertation about the Asian American experiences with independent rock music. My work has delved into social and musical life of bands such as The Hsu-nami, The Kominas, Carol Bui, Exit Clov, etc. I’m also a musician. I have performed actively on the experimental music circuit as a member of the Pinko Communoids since 2006. I recently started Dzian!, a NAKASHI (Taiwanese burlesque) surf rock band. We play a selection of obscure and popular 1960-1970s tunes ranging from: Taiwanese agogo, Japanese eleki, Indonesian garage rock, Thai shadow music, and Ventures hits loved by Taiwanese puppetry bands and audiences.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Over the years, I have learned to embrace and channel my 1.5-generation Taiwanese American experiences as a cultural vantage point. My lived experiences have driven me to challenge notions of ethnic essentialism and cultural chauvinism in various areas of my work and personal life. My strong ties to Taiwan have enabled me gain a transnational perspective on the US and world issues, informing my scholarly pursuit in global cultural landscape.

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

I hope that Taiwanese America will exist in a peaceful relation to other U.S. ethnic minority groups, especially those of Asian descent, joining movements for social justice, particularly related to immigration reform, ethnic solidarity. Without inter-ethnic and international alliances, Taiwanese America would come to a lonely place in not just Pacific, but in the Americas.

Any additional information you would like to share?

http://beingwendyhsu.info/

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Lindsey and Evelyn Chou – Play Experts and Provocateurs in Training

San Francisco Bay Area

Although we’ve never been to Taiwan, we feel a strong connection to our heritage through our parents and grandparents.

cheng.kids1Who are you?

We are third-generation Taiwanese Americans, ages six and four. Lindsey is finishing up kindergarten and Evelyn is in preschool. We are bilingual Mandarin-English speaking. We know a few Taiwanese phrases, mostly food related. Although we’re not really old enough to fill out this questionnaire ourselves, the recent Census campaign made us want to affirm our heritage, so we’re here to represent. Go, TA3G!

Our mom, Jean Cheng, is a second-generation Taiwanese American who grew up in Portland, OR. She is a documentary filmmaker and more recently, an educational content producer for the Web. Our dad, Eric Chou, is also second-generation – he calls himself Chinese, but since his parents grew up in Taiwan and he’s spent more time in Taiwan than our mom, we’re putting him in the TA column. Besides, he’s a strong supporter of Taiwanese self-determination. He’s an architect, so we’ve got the “arty” thing going on both sides.

What do you do?

We play, go to school, cooperate, rebel, dance, sing, shout, turn cartwheels, draw, pretend we’re teenagers or fairies, and live every moment of life to its fullest.  Occasionally we sleep. We like to ask Big Questions and force our parents to scramble, prioritize and evolve. We also remind them every day why it’s important to care about the future and make sure the world is a safe, fair place for people of all shapes and stripes to grow up in.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Although we’ve never been to Taiwan, we feel a strong connection to our heritage through our parents and grandparents. The eating part goes without saying, but we also love the stories and songs we’ve heard (YoYo TV, anyone?), and learning about our family history.

Mostly, being Taiwanese (American) matters to us because it matters to people we care about. Although we haven’t learned much about Taiwan’s history yet, we know a little about its struggle for independence and the courage of people on both sides of the Pacific who made great sacrifices. In a way, Taiwan’s story also helps us understand what it means to be American: people there are fighting for the same ideals that this country was founded upon, and people here are struggling for recognition, equal rights and opportunity just the same.

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

Since we’re young, everything appears bright and limitless to us, so that’s what our vision of Taiwanese America looks like. We hope the community will continue to expand, embrace and evolve, while staying true to its origins: as a place to find support and acceptance and to work towards freedom, democracy and justice.

We look forward to attending our share of camps and college conferences and surfing the front edge of the third generation wave!

Any additional information you would like to share?

This Web site rocks!

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Jack Hsu – Frontman of The Hsu-nami, Rock Erhu Musician, Producer, and Songwriter

Fort Lee, NJ

I hope in the future, there will be more Taiwanese Americans that will impact the world and embrace their own heritage.

hsu.jack1Who are you?

I’m the frontman and erhu player of “The Hsu-nami” –an internationally renowned progressive rock band (Hsu-nami’s music was featured in the 2008 Summer Olympic in
Beijing. The track “Rising of the sun” was used as the Chinese Basketball team’s entrance theme). I’m also the showcase coordinator for the Taiwanese entertainment non-profit called Tai Kei New York (TKNY), which works in developing projects with the Taipei Economic Culture Office and festivals such as Passport to Taiwan in NYC and TaiwanFest in Toronto and Vancouver.

What do you do?

I’m a recording / performing artist and also an erhu instructor within the local Chinese community. I’m one of the funders for the non-profit organization Tai Kei New York (TKNY)  紐約台客, which hosts an annual showcase in the hopes of allowing the general population to understand Taiwan through visual and audio arts.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to New Jersey when I was 12 years old, and soon became an American citizen. I love Taiwan very much because of my childhood memories; It’s an amazing and really beautiful place and has amazing food and a rich culture. I don’t give a $#*& about any political drama there. It just splits the Taiwanese people apart. When American media shows videos of politicians cutting themselves or rioting in court rooms in Taiwan, it’s just bad. I don’t want people from other countries to see only those videos and instantly think that’s all Taiwan is about. I do feel like everyone who comes out of Taiwan has some sort of pride specific to our Taiwanese heritage.

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

I feel like Taiwanese Americans need to step up and be heard. I hope in the future, there will be more Taiwanese Americans that will impact the world and embrace their own heritage. Instead of just making safe choices, I hope they try very hard to be the best and most successful at whatever they do.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My band’s official website links:
http://www.hsu-nami.com
http://www.myspace.com/hsunami
http://www.youtube.com/hsunami
http://www.twitter.com/thehsunami

TKNY Group Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/TKNY/113170968705240

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Charlotte Kiang – Class President at Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA and New York, NY

As a passionate Taiwanese American woman, I strive to express my beliefs through my actions, rather than merely words, every day. Someday, I hope to represent the Taiwanese American community on the national political stage.

kiang.charlotte2Who are you?

My name is Charlotte Kiang and I am a nineteen-year-old, second-generation Taiwanese American, born and raised in New York City. I am currently a freshman at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where I am hoping to double major in English and Political Science. While my childhood taught me to be largely “colorblind” (essentially, to ignore all differences in race, gender, class, and the like) –my recent experience in Wellesley’s actively diverse community has taught me what it truly means to be both a woman and a Taiwanese American in today’s fast-paced society. In true Wellesley spirit, this has galvanized me to fight for visibility on both accounts, and in the process to gain pride in my multifaceted identity.

What do you do?

At Wellesley, I served as president of the Class of 2013 this past year and was recently re-elected for a second term. I am a fearless fighter, and a passionate activist: outside of classes and student government, I am active in many cultural and community service organizations, such as Wellesley’s Taiwanese Cultural Organization, Habitat for Humanity, and numerous youth tutoring programs. This summer, I will be interning at Planned Parenthood, where I will work with Massachusetts State government to advocate for my pro-choice beliefs. I am a strong believer in Wellesley’s motto: “non ministrari, sed ministrare” (not to be ministered unto, but to minister). As a passionate Taiwanese American woman, I strive to express my beliefs through my actions, rather than merely words, every day. Someday, I hope to represent the Taiwanese American community on the national political stage.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to represent the country that my parents came from, and whose population has overcome so many struggles to get to where it is today. I am proud that Taiwan, despite being a relatively small country, has built itself such a prominent, tight-knit community among its American immigrants and their children. The most active Asian cultural organizations at Wellesley are Taiwanese Cultural Organization, Korean Students’ Association, Chinese Students’ Association, and Japan Club. Taiwan has a significantly smaller population than the other three countries –but it can still compete!  And I love that Taiwanese identity is strong enough to sustain that effort.

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

Taiwanese Americans are already a highly diverse, accomplished group: from Min Kao to Lucy Liu, we represent everyone from Forbes-featured businessmen to red-carpet actresses. Moving forward, I hope that we will continue this trend in breadth of successes, and that we can expand on it even further to include more recognizable faces in American politics and social change.

Any additional information you would like to share?

One thing I really love about Wellesley College is that it sells Bubble Tea at its Campus Center –which, along with a bunch of other solid foods that I don’t know how to translate into English, is an AMAZING Taiwanese delicacy. Also, I’ve owned an “I Wear Bubble Tees” shirt since middle school, but until today I had no idea it was from this website!

Someday, I also hope to spend enough time in Taiwan to gain true fluency in Mandarin (and possibly Taiwanese) –something I regret not having already accomplished.


Baldwin Yen – Iraq War Veteran

Los Angeles, CA

I think it’s already happening a bit, but I’d just like America as a whole to understand the plight of Taiwan and its relationship with America.

yen.baldwin2Who are you?

I am a 31 year old, second generation Taiwanese American. I went to UCLA for Computer Science and Engineering, where I enlisted in the Army Reserve. In 2004 I was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as a broadcast journalist. Since then, I came back, moved to Los Angeles, and now work as a video game designer and an aspiring actor.

What do you do?

I work for a non-profit on a volunteer basis, promoting service-member issues (IAVA.org), design video games, and try to act.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m proud to be Taiwanese because that’s what I am. But I’m also proud to be Taiwanese because it’s a wealthy, developing country which has struggled to create its own form of democracy.

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

I think it’s already happening a bit, but I’d just like America as a whole to understand the plight of Taiwan and its relationship with America. And I imagine this happening because Taiwanese Americans will pierce the consciousness of America with their acts, ability, and natural talents. I want America to be informed to the point where people stop asking me if Taiwan is a part of China.

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Alanna Lin – Writer, Performance Artist, and MC

Los Angeles, CA

I’m proud of my heritage because we Taiwanese are a wack, creative, capitalistic, entrepreneurial, make it happen even if it looks ugly and smells, people.

lin.alanna1Who are you?

I was born of two Taiwanese immigrants in Cleveland, Ohio. I call them Mom and Dad.  Under their care, I learned to read and play piano at a a very young age. Atypical of the Asian American experience, however, there was no pressure from my parents to become a lawyer or a doctor. They always told me and my siblings: “Do what you love” and “try your best.” The result of their support and advice was time in college and grad school studying language and writing and trying to figure out how to be a super power. The side effect was realizing that the artistic vocation is a life of great passion and intrigue and few guarantees. That said, if I have kids someday and they ever show an artistic impulse, I’ll to pay for college only if they study business, or Spanish. “Open an art gallery in Spain or get out of my house!”

What do you do?

Currently, I am working on a public safety project for Los Angeles. It started out with a bike accident (a woman hit me in her van while I was on my two wheeler) and I had a number of crazy visions following the black-out / concussion. The vision was awesome and involved a performance art concept I’ve been calling, “Version Mary 10.1.7.” where the idea is that the Version Mary (not to be confused with the Virgin Mary) comes to warn and prepare Los Angeles for the Big Earthquake that everyone’s been anticipating and isn’t ready for, by setting a calendar date for it (10/17), like it’s a wedding (that will hopefully be canceled) and appearing all over LA in wings and a bicycle helmet. Ahem. I have the wings, but even better, I have poems… and GarageBand. I’m set the stuff to music. Ta da.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 2nd generation Taiwanese. I’m proud of my heritage because we Taiwanese are a wack, creative, capitalistic, entrepreneurial, make it happen even if it looks ugly and smells, people.

And we have a strong sense of kindness towards strangers and hospitality. Maybe this is just my parents, but I’ll generalize and say all Taiwanese people exhibit some of these characteristics, unless they’ve eaten one too many McBuger.

I’m proud to be Taiwanese American because I think it’s one of those gifts in life that takes a while to claim. Especially if you were born in the 70’s like me. Like a bottle of wine (I never drink wine that old), but it does take time to realize how your circumstances, if challenging, sweetens over time, especially as you come to understand how feeling a little outsider / alien / freaky is good for your soul and can give you an advantage whenever a situation calls for a little empathy. Having been judged / rejected helps you to know not to do the same, I’d like to think.

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

Well, I can only speak for myself.  But, maybe it’s an indicator.

I’m planning on running for office on the web. Actually, I’ve decided to forgo the election process and appointed myself to a position…

I always marvel at politicians who have the energy to wrestle with… the gov’ment.  Me, I’m happy offering my opinions and perspectives in a creative way. As a creative thinker, I do have a lot of good solutions to problems, but my platform is not like the othersl. I own the domain name: chairmeowww.com. Because I see my future as Chairmeow of the World Wide Web. Chairman. Mao. You get it, right? We need more women in leadership. And I have some agendas to fulfill.

Any additional information you would like to share?

TAF, the place where all Taiwanese kids go to be groomed to be future leaders of America… I remember you. You taught me faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is…

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Monique Lee Hawthorne – Attorney and Sustainability Advocate

Portland, Oregon

I currently practice real estate and environmental law, but my passion is to help transform how consumers and companies view natural resources and commodities.

hawthorne.monique3Who are you?

I am a tea snob in a land where coffee is king.  I am odd and quirky, and I never shy away from a good debate about politics.  I’m married to a guy who is of mixed European ancestry.  When my parents disapproved of our relationship, I convinced my dad that by dating non-Taiwanese I would help the Taiwanese Independence Movement more because I could tell him and his family about the people of Taiwan.

I enjoy serving my community and church through volunteering to fight homelessness locally, to stop slavery and bonded labor everywhere, and to find clean sources of water globally.

What do you do?

I currently practice real estate and environmental law, but my passion is to help transform how consumers and companies view natural resources and commodities.  It’s frustrating at times, but I tell myself that if even one person I talk to thinks twice about their consumer choices, it’s a ripple in a big pond.  I’m also a huge advocate of public mass transit and using non-motorized forms of transportation.  I grew up in southern California, where all you know is the automobile.  After living in Germany and visiting Taiwanese several times throughout my life, and now finally settling in Portland, Oregon, I believe modern society has an infatuation with the automobile.  Try biking or walking anyone?

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American.  I am proud of my heritage because of what it means to be Taiwanese American.  When we self identify as Taiwanese Americans it means that we have chosen how the world should see us, as a unique culture with diverse languages and a people striving for a true democracy unwilling to walk on the big road.  I always feel an instant connection with someone else who is Taiwanese.  Why? Because we have a common understanding of who we are.  All I need from life are friends who understand my identity struggles, to feel my love for a small island country, and to share a plate of stinky tofu, bah-tzang, some mince meat with rice, and still have room for whatever comes next.

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

The future of Taiwanese America looks like you telling someone that you’re Taiwanese American without him or her correcting you with “Oh, you mean Chinese,” or exclaiming, “I love Thai food.”  The future of Taiwanese America looks like not having to check the box “other Asian.”  The future of Taiwanese America looks like the U.S. standing up to China and saying its people, the Taiwanese Americans, won’t stand for threats of violence.  The future of Taiwanese America looks like me welcoming my China-born sister-in-law into our family and sharing with her the beauty of Taiwan.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Can I just say that my favorite cuisine is Taiwanese?! I have too many favorites to just name one.

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Andrea Fuwa – Collegiate Varsity Hockey Player

Waterville, ME

I am a third generation Taiwanese American. My grandmother immigrated here from Taiwan. In my opinion my Taiwanese heritage makes me unique.

fuwa.andrea3Who are you?

I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1988. I have a brother, Daniel, who is 14 months younger than me and a sister, Carolyn, who is 5 years younger than me. My mother, Elsa is second generation Taiwanese American (born in the same hospital as me) and my father, Lester immigrated to Canada from Korea.  We also have a Brittany Spaniel named Kerry. I have spent most of my life growing up in the Chicago-land area. I attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois and I currently attend Colby College in Waterville, Maine. I will graduate in May 2010 with a major in Economics with a concentration in financial markets and a second major in History. In fall 2010 I will be working with Ernst and Young in their transfer pricing practice.

What do you do?

After high school I decided to attend Colby, where I played (season ended in March) DIII Varsity ice hockey for the past four years and senior year I was an assistant captain. College hockey took up most of my time, we had practice 5 times a week for 2 hours and weekends I spent most of my time on a bus traveling to away games. Balancing school and hockey has always been tricky, but I love being part of a team. I enjoy to run during my spare time and take spinning classes. I also love to ski, the past 2 spring breaks we have taken family vacations to Deer Valley. During the summers I hang out with my high school friends and my family (we all get along.) We enjoy going to the beach and watching movies.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a third generation Taiwanese American. My grandmother immigrated here from Taiwan. In my opinion my Taiwanese heritage makes me unique. When people try to guess my background they never get it right and I always make sure to correct them.

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Roger Lin – Pastor and Counselor

Milwaukee, WI

My parents immigrated here in the 1970’s for graduate studies and began our family here. I am proud to be Taiwanese American because of my parent’s sacrifice for my generation.

lin.roger2Who are you?

I am a child of God.  I believe that there is a God that created me and loved me. He had me in mind before creation of the world and has a purpose for my life. I am His child.

What do you do?

Vocationally I have two titles.  I work as a pastor at Life Creek Church up in Milwaukee, WI.  It is a predominantly Korean American church.  I teach the Bible, run the youth program, train leaders, and serve through outreach/missions.  As a Taiwanese American working in a Korean context, it really brings out the strengths and weaknesses of my cultural background and the ability as an outsider to understand Korean culture.  It’s exciting working in this cross-cultural context.

My other is title is a counselor. My passion is to bring healing to broken hearts through grace and truth.  I am currently being trained as a Clinical Psychologist (Psy.D.) and work at a college counseling center.

I love what I do.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation Taiwanese American.  My parents immigrated here in the 1970’s for graduate studies and began our family here. I am proud to be Taiwanese American because of my parent’s sacrifice for my generation.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

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

Honestly, as I survey my Taiwanese American friends and colleagues, we are already living out our vision and hopes.  So many of my TA friends are wildly successful: living out their passions, finding their place in the world and enjoying the fulfillment of helping the community.

Future-wise, more of what we’re experiencing now: passion, realizing our place, and the fulfillment of helping.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I like Taiwanese eggplant and bitter melon. I crave Taiwanese food on a daily basis.

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Jen Shyu – Vocalist, Composer, and Dancer

Bronx, NY

I’m 2nd generation Taiwanese, East Timorese American. My dad is at least 6 generations Taiwanese, and my mom is overseas Chinese (from southern China) born and raised in East Timor, then later schooled in Taiwan.

shyu.jen2Who are you?

I’m a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, dancer and creator of strange worlds.  Right now, till end of July 2010, I’m in East Timor doing music research, which has been mind-blowing and so inspiring. It is also a reminder that we have to act quickly to help people in poverty.  There is so much we can do, even as artists not making loads of money, to help (more strategies below).

What do you do?

I have the fortune of being a full-time music artist, performer, producer and private teacher, though I teach workshops when I’m asked to (I always prefer one-on-one). I travel and connect with people and connect people to people through the art which lies within us all.  An advocate for equality and empathy among all races, sexual orientations, etc., these things I hope are communicated implicitly through my work and interactions with all people.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 2nd generation Taiwanese, East Timorese American. My dad is at least 6 generations Taiwanese, and my mom is overseas Chinese (from southern China) born and raised in East Timor, then later schooled in Taiwan (high school and undergraduate studies). I’m so proud of having Taiwanese blood – so many reasons. This is a country of beauty, pride, dynamism, daring, and the potential to be a creative superpower.  It has already been a leader in technology and inventiveness and production – I’m of course always interested in the development of maximum-risk artistic spirit anywhere in any place. So I look forward to spending more time in Taiwan beyond the time that I have already spent there researching and performing.

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

I guess I was already going into this above…  I believe we can be blatantly proud and at the same time embrace all cultures at the same time. I envision us being automatically associated with the innovative spirit, the environmentally conscious spirit, and preserver of Taiwanese indigenous and folk culture and all ancient culture, tolerant of all religions.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Lots of links:

http://www.jenshyu.com
http://unartignyc.com/2010/01/18/jen/
http://www.myspace.com/jenshyu

My favorite Taiwanese food has to be anything red-bean related!

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Hanna Huang – Student Leader, Conference Organizer, and Baker

Austin, TX

As a 1.5 generation Taiwanese American, I grew up strongly influenced by my family’s endless supply of Taiwanese pride.

huang.hanna4Who are you?

I’m just a Taiwanese American girl who grew up in South Texas, has a voice and likes to use it! My hometowns are McAllen, TX and Feng Yuan, Taiwan. I grew up speaking (and being lectured by my parents in) Spanish, Taiwanese, and Mandarin. As an undergraduate senior at The University of Texas at Austin, I can truly say I found myself when I made the switch from being a business major to Asian American Studies. I’m also a mega book nerd and love exploring Austin (especially for food!) and beyond with my friends.

What do you do?

Besides being an active leader in the Taiwanese American Students Association (TASA) and the Asian American community on campus throughout my collegiate career, I am the conference director for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) 2010 Midwest Conference. I’ve also been dubbed Mama Hanna for my culinary contributions to my friends’ waistlines as well as a proud cookie dough and brownie maker at Tiff’s Treats for the last 2.5 years. Currently, I am a student liaison for the Center of Asian American Studies at UT Austin.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 1.5 generation Taiwanese American, I grew up strongly influenced by my family’s endless supply of Taiwanese pride. I’m proud to be Taiwanese because we are truly a community of people who are never hesitant to lend a helping hand. Especially after organizing and planning the ITASA 2010 Midwest Conference: “Round Up” for about a year, I’ve really been able to connect with and meet so many supporters that have helped to make our first ever ITASA conference in Texas a success. Without all the helping hands and encouraging words, our conference team really would not have been able to reach out to as many people as we did. A big shout out to TaiwaneseAmerican.org for collaborating with us to have their first ever mini-board meeting in conjunction to the conference!

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

It looks amazing! I definitely plan on staying involved as much as possible with the Taiwanese American community. The future holds a lot for us in respect to seeing the efforts of things like the Taiwanese Census 2010 Campaign and more collaborations between 1st and 2nd generation organizations. With our growing network of Taiwanese Americans expanding even more so into politics, business, media, entertainment and more, I truly believe that collaboration is the key to our future.

Any additional information you would like to share?

The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association is looking for students to join our 2010-2011 National Board! This is your chance to gain invaluable experience in the non-profit realm, applicable to fields ranging from education to public relations to finance and to management. You can be part of a national movement with a real chance of making an impact on people. Also, you can’t forget the lifelong friends and connections you will make as a part of ITASA’s National Board. Applications and more information can be found at http://itasa.org/content/view/311/371/. The deadline is June 1, 2010 at 11:59 PM PST

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Godwin Chen – Youth Organizer and Change Agent

Bayside, NY

I hope to see Taiwanese Americans carrying forward the lessons that our parents’ struggles taught us, and using them to contribute to American society at large.

chen.godwin1Who are you?

I was born in Flushing, New York, grew up on Long Island and now reside in Bayside.

What do you do?

While studying for my master’s in public administration, I am also interning at the New York City Transit Authority where I work in organizational development. I’m responsible for finding novel ways to measure the long term impact of our training programs, making my department more accountable to achieving real improvements with our internal clients. Outside of work, I like to spend time with youth development organizations (Taiwanese American Foundation and Taiwanese American Next Generation!) and have been known to disappear into the woods on long weekend backpacks.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I think the resiliency of Taiwanese people serves as a huge inspiration to me. Stories about my mother’s humble childhood beginnings, and how my grandmother became a female county legislator, makes me feel that the Taiwanese are some of the most decent, persistent, and hardworking people. When my parents first arrived in America, they worked for a family in Pennsylvania as a housekeeper and a groundskeeper. Through their persistence they’ve been able to provide a upper middle-class lifestyle for their two sons. Sometimes I am reminded of an image of me as a baby, strapped to my mother as she tended the stove of a night club’s kitchen. Stories like these make it hard to measure up to the sacrifices our parent’s made.

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

I hope to see Taiwanese Americans carrying forward the lessons that our parents’ struggles taught us, and using them to contribute to American society at large.

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Amy Lee – Co-founder and President of UCI’s Taiwanese American Organization

Irvine, CA

My team and I have had a great first year at UC Irvine and can’t wait to see our club grow in the future.

lee.amy1Who are you?

I’m a 4th year Psychology and Anthropology double major at UC Irvine and the co-founder and the current president of the first Taiwanese American student organization at University of California, Irvine. Though I’m facing some panic attacks here and there for my own future as a graduating senior, my team and I have had a great first year at UC Irvine and can’t wait to see our club grow in the future.

What do you do?

At the end of my 3rd year at UC Irvine, a group of people that I met came together and put together a small Taiwanese American student club, the Taiwanese American Organization. We were expecting 30 people to show up at our first general meeting, but instead, we had a bit more than what we bargained for… we drew over 200 people. This past year, we’ve won the census project competition sponsored by the Taiwanese American Citizens League, been recognized as the best new TASA by the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association, and have organized numerous outreach projects. We started the club thinking it was a one year thing, but now we have a group of great potentials ready to take the club to the next level.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I was born in Buffalo, NY. Over the past 22 years, I’ve lived in Irvine, CA, Auckland, New Zealand, Houston, TX, and Hsin Chu, Taiwan. Everywhere I’ve been, my heritage stands out –the rich history, the beautiful culture, the yummy food, and the complex politics remain a big part of me.

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

I see a strong community that continuously fosters leaders in every field, and a community that is accepting of all identities.

Any additional information you would like to share?

www.taouci.com
www.facebook.com/taouci
www.youtube.com/taouci

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Vivian Tsai – Psychologist and Taiwanese Language Teacher

Rockville, MD

I teach our second generation the Taiwanese language so that I can help instill in them a part of their identity.

tsai.vivian7Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American who has been in the United States for the past 20 years. I am an aunt to two beautiful nephews. I am also a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I have a wonderful family who support me through all of my endeavors.

What do you do?

I recently earned my doctorate in psychology and hope to become licensed within the next year.  I am passionate about children and their families.  My goal is to reach as many children with difficulties so that they have the tools to achieve.

Additionally, I am a Taiwanese Language teacher who believes that if our culture is lost in the next generation, then, along with it will be our identity. I teach our second generation the Taiwanese language so that I can help instill in them a part of their identity.

I am also involved in the local Taiwanese American Association. I hope to be able to gather more young professionals to become interested in the Taiwanese identity.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 1.5 generation Taiwanese American. I finished elementary school in Taiwan and moved to the States when I was 13 years old. I recall that ever since my first day in the States, I have always corrected people I meet that I am Taiwanese and not Chinese. I have always been proud to be a Taiwanese because of our rich culture. I identify with the land and want what is best for Taiwan.

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

My vision for the Taiwanese American community is that we would be more united with less fighting within our group. I have seen too many that aim for the same goal but bicker with each other regarding wordings and paths to take. I hope that we can come together and work towards the same goal.

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Ketty Chen – Professor of Political Science and Animal Rights Advocate

Plano, TX

I am proud to be a Taiwanese American, because Taiwan is not only where my roots are, it also represents hard work, perseverance, survival, democracy and freedom.

chen.ketty2Who are you?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Plano, TX.  I drink too much coffee, and I love desserts.  I am an animal lover, especially dogs.  I have two fur kids.  Mr. Snuggles is an 11-year-old border collie mix, the wise and constant companion.  Biguru or “Bea” is the rambunctious beagle I adopted last year.  I also love to sing, and I’ve been invited to perform at local Taiwanese American organization events.  I’m a big fan of Taiwanese songs.  Jiang Hui is one of my favorite singers.

What do you do?

I am a professor of political science at Austin College.  My fields of expertise are comparative politics, international relations and political theory.  When I have some spare time, I help the local animal shelters rescue stray and abused dogs.  I am also the current Media Chair of Formosan Association for Public Affairs -Young Professional Group’s (FAPA-YPG) Steering Committee.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be a Taiwanese American, because Taiwan is not only where my roots are, it also represents hard work, perseverance, survival, democracy and freedom.  I am proud of the fact that Taiwan has overcome colonization, war, atrocities and authoritarianism.  Today, Taiwan is the pillar of democracy and a model for other countries in the world.

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

I see Taiwanese Americans becoming the leaders in all fields in American societies. I also see Taiwanese American communities coming together to contribute and support the Taiwanese’ right to self-determination and be incorporated into the world community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Please neuter and spay your pets.  Adopt instead of buy!

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Timothy Huang – Composer, Lyricist and Librettist

New York, NY

In my perfect world, I live in a future where I needn’t explain to anyone that Thailand and Taiwan are different places.

huang.timothy2Who are you?

I am a composer, lyricist, Asian dude.

No seriously, that’s what it says on my business card. I tend to think of myself as a playwright whose finished work happens to be musical.  But I think the technical term is composer/lyricist. I was, in a former life, an actor. I hold a BFA in acting and an MFA in writing both from NYU Tisch. I am a hardcore gamer. Currently playing: (God of War III, Fragile Dreams.)

I am about to have a really awesome year.

What do you do?

I spend a fair amount of my days getting IN the game but staying objective enough to write ABOUT the game. And by “game” I mean that whole “living” thing.  Being an artist sometimes directly contradicts with being a writer.  Because how can you make a compelling case for the truth if you aren’t objective enough to see it? So I have a survival job, working in a presentation center at an IBank. I also freelance and do sheet music transcription for actors. I get produced in the city at least once a year. My one act musical The View From Here will get a German language production in Vienna in the fall. My full length musical And the Earth Moved, about the Taiwan earthquake of 1999 is slated for a concert reading in November, and a production the following season. I don’t spend enough time with my girlfriend. Who is the single coolest person I’ve ever known in my life.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Because to be anything less would be a disservice to the world. If you’re nodding your head right now, and smiling, you probably don’t need me to elaborate. If you’re shaking your head right now, my wish for you this year is that you harvest a deeper appreciation for your gifts and the uniqueness of your experiences. That you come to understand the things that color your world, which you view as commonplace, are to others, completely alien. That maybe there are lawmakers and men and women of influence out there who unbeknownst to you have no idea what your experience is and therefore completely fail to consider it as they enact influence. I am proud of my heritage because I am proud of who I am.

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

In my perfect world, I live in a future where I needn’t explain to anyone that Thailand and Taiwan are different places. Where my hapa friend Kubo doesn’t make a ghost face at me when he hears me declare myself as “Taiwanese” as if his having called me “Chinese” was grounds for a knock down, drag out. But let’s talk specifics. My future holds a seat for Taiwan at the UN again. A seat that is born first from recognition of independence, but from recognition that is, itself, born from mutual understanding and respect.  There is no Chinese/Taiwanese war in my future. No Terminator robots or Cylons or anything. Just two ideologies learning how to suppress the reptilian impulse (no V either) and act like grown ups.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Much of my work can be found on my website: www.timothyhuang.net
There’s also a youtube channel: www.youtube.com/TimothyHuangSongs

I went on tour with Paul McCartney once. I also played Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall in the same year. I played Roberta Flack’s piano once. I believe Picard could kick Kirk’s ass, don’t see any way Aeris didn’t have to die, find LOST to be equal parts mind f*cking and equal parts insufferable and I used to make Transformers characters in my head. I despise injustice. I love theater. I am regularly shocked and dismayed at how few people are aware that music transcends language. Oh, and you’re not the boss of me.

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Jerry Chiang – Entrepreneur, Consultant, and Dabbler

Cleveland, OH (currently Taipei, Taiwan)

My vision for the firm is to bring some of the best practices from the US (and elsewhere in the world) to Taiwan and focus on truly making our clients in Taiwan better companies…

chiang.jerry4Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American Christian who was born in the US and grew up in Cleveland but has since moved back to Taiwan in order to reconnect with my roots, enjoy the splendid food, the unparalleled convenience of Taipei, and the heartwarming friendliness of the Taiwanese people.

After a bit of wandering, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start a new management consultancy firm focused on Greater China (initially Taiwan) with a few partners.  While becoming an entrepreneur has always been a lifelong dream, my vision for the firm is to bring some of the best practices from the US (and elsewhere in the world) to Taiwan and focus on truly making our clients in Taiwan better companies, while at the same time creating a new, sensible and pleasant work environment that will train, grow, and empower new Taiwanese professionals to pursue their passions.

What do you do?

In my professional role as an entrepreneur and partner at a management consultancy, I work on business development, project and client management, recruiting, training, accounting, translating, etc.  On our projects, we do anything from improving the efficiency of our clients by simplifying their processes to finding ways to reduce their indirect costs, from optimizing their dialogue and communications with their customers to analyzing their data to find predictive trends, from advising them on a potential transaction to helping them find buyers.

I also enjoy dabbling in a wide range of passions and interests, anything from teaching middle-aged women how to exercise at the local breakfast shop to performing my musical compositions on piano, from helping churches better serve and reach their communities to having philosophical discussions with both local Taiwanese and foreign expats, from playing strategic board games with university students to doing language exchange with people trying to improve their English.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, what brings me the most pride is the kindness and warmth of the Taiwanese people, especially in how they treat foreign guests.  Almost every foreign friend who has visited Taiwan has always come away with a good impression of the people, of how Taiwan exceeded their expectations, and how pleasantly surprised they were by their whole experience.  Furthermore, I am proud of Taiwanese and Chinese history and culture, of how strongly we value family, of our work ethic, of cultural tendency for modesty, conservativeness, and indirectness, and of how we strive to make our indelible mark in history, becoming leaders in multiple field and industries and having a disproportionate amount of influence relative to our population.

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

While ideally Taiwanese Americans would become more visible, more united in spirit, and more diverse in talent, my hope is they would also reconnect and continue to develop even closer relations to Taiwan on a personal level in order to bond with local Taiwanese, thus creating mutually beneficial relationships that can be used to help and support each other.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I do think it is very important (and to Taiwan’s advantage) to sort out the Taiwan – China issue sooner rather than later rather than remaining apathetic and tabling the problem.  In addition, I do believe there are potential solutions out there that are worth discussing.  For example, I have put forth one possible idea in my blog at http://jerrykchiang.blogspot.com/2009/02/on-taiwanese-independence.html.

Also, you can visit my firm, Enhance International’s website at: http://www.enhance-international.com

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Leona Chen – Junior High Student, Mentor and Dreamer

Fremont, CA

I write, dance, and cheer on those around me. I think that true beauty comes from within, even though I fight daily battles with the mirror.

chen.leona7Who are you?

I am an optimist, perfectionist, and former society-named ugly duckling. Smiling is my favorite sport. Daydreaming is my best subject. I believe in finding timeless beauty in everyone, and that imagination is the key to happiness.

What do you do?

I’m an 8th grader in junior high. I’m an older sister, a friend, and a mentor to the kids’ performing group from the Fremont Taiwan Center.

In 5th grade, after every performance, my mom would tell me that I needed to smile more. I remember hating how she always picked on me. But I took her advice, and as the younger kids made their way into more and more shows, I became the one offstage, making silly faces to make them giggle. I made the mistakes, and they learned from them. Choreographing and teaching dance for them was one of the best experiences I had, because they trusted me. I wasn’t the scary, mean teacher. I was their “Leona 姐姐”, and that made our classes together a lot of fun, because they weren’t too shy to offer feedback. The greatest thing about being the oldest is that I became a role model, and they’re my motivation to do my best, because I don’t want to let them down.

I write, dance, and cheer on those around me. I think that true beauty comes from within, even though I fight daily battles with the mirror. I read books and get bossed around by my 妹妹 a lot. And one day, I’m going to defy everybody who told me that I wouldn’t get far in life.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

When I was in 3rd grade, my mom enrolled me in the Fremont Taiwan School. Back then, being Taiwanese American was an epiphany for me, and I loved being part of a community so energetic and passionate. As the years progressed, I became an MC for performances that promoted Taiwanese culture, and grew closer to my great big FTS family and my Taiwanese roots.

And I’m not going to lie, the food and night markets in Taiwan are pretty amazing.

It’s lovely to come back from a vacation with a suitcase full of cool things.

“Where’d you get that?” “Taiwan.” “Lucky!”

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

I see Taiwanese Americans being proud of their identity, educated on their culture, and secure in who they are. I see “Taiwanese American” becoming an internationally familiar concept. Maybe one day the old question will pop up again: “Are you Chinese? Filipino? Japanese? Korean?” Instead of being exasperated, I see Taiwanese Americans willing to share their ethnic background, and someday, we won’t have to explain.

Any additional information you would like to share?

7-Eleven in Taiwan is the best, end of discussion.

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Neill Tseng – Lawyer and Surfer

San Francisco, CA

I am an Assistant U.S. Attorney who defends the United States and its agencies and employees in court.  I am proud to serve my nation every day.

tseng.neill3Who are you?

I am a Taiwanese American who grew up in Houston and, in many ways, was part of a “typical” Taiwanese American family.  In other words, when I was growing up, I played piano, went to Taiwanese school on the weekends, accompanied my parents to various TAA activities, and was encouraged by my parents to be a doctor.  Nevertheless, my parents also gave me freedom to have fun and pursue what I wanted to.  I went to school on the east coast, bounced around various cities trying different things, and now I am a government lawyer in San Francisco.

What do you do?

I am an Assistant U.S. Attorney who defends the United States and its agencies and employees in court.  I am proud to serve my nation every day.  In my free time, I enjoy surfing, volleyball, rock climbing, and most sports and physical activities in general.  I also like reading, salsa dancing, and keeping up with news and current events.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second-generation Taiwanese American.  I have been involved in Taiwanese American activities my entire life, mostly as a result of the fact that my parents were (and are) heavily involved in the Taiwanese community and taught me what it means to be Taiwanese and why it is important.  They brought me to Taiwan every few years when I was growing up, which helped me to know it and know my numerous relatives there.  I am proud of my Taiwanese heritage because, despite a history of colonization and oppression, the Taiwanese people have persevered and prospered both in Taiwan and abroad.  And, of course, Taiwanese food is the best!  I love to visit Taiwan and love the culture and spirit of its people.

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

I think Taiwanese America will continue to expand and diversify beyond the “traditional” careers we have seen so far.  We are already seeing Taiwanese Americans break into other areas such as music, the arts and sports, and I believe that will continue as there are more generations of Taiwanese Americans and they become more entrenched in American society.  Even within the more traditional professions such as law, I believe Taiwanese Americans will attain new heights and visibility (such as Goodwin Liu’s possibly being confirmed to a federal appellate judgeship).  Hopefully we’ll have a Taiwanese American NBA player someday soon (Jeremy Lin?).

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Lee-Sean Huang – Designer, Activist, and Artist

New York, NY

I am proud of Taiwan as a diverse and vibrant multi-ethnic mix and as a beacon of democracy…

huang.lee-sean1Who are you?

I am an artist, activist, musician, and entrepreneur based out of New York City.  I was born in Taiwan and raised in Arizona. I graduated with a BA in Government from Harvard University in 2003.  While in college, I studied abroad in Barcelona, Paris and Lund (Sweden).  I just finished my Masters in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU.  I am currently a strategist and interaction designer at Purpose.com, a group of “movement entrepreneurs.”  I am also co-founder and producer at Hepnova Multimedia, a genre-defying music collective, multimedia production company, think tank, and modern lifestyle brand.

What do you do?

I tap into my multidisciplinary experience to develop strategies and technologies and design interactive experiences for progressive social and political movements. I also make music with my band, Hepnova, and with my friends.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I immigrated to the US with my parents when I was 4 years old.  Aside from going to a Taiwanese church and Chinese School on Sundays, I grew up mostly around white people.  I would visit Taiwan every two years or so growing up, and I had the opportunity to make some longer trips there as an adult.  For me, my Taiwanese heritage means more than just food and family, although those things are obviously great.  I am proud of Taiwan as a diverse and vibrant multi-ethnic mix and as a beacon of democracy (against the odds).

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

A future where “brand Taiwan” and “Taiwanese America” mean entrepreneurial, scrappy, and hardworking. A future where our hybrid culture is celebrated.

Any additional information you would like to share?

http://leesean.net

My favorite Taiwanese food is oyster omelets .

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Irvin Lin – Baker, Writer, Designer, and Pop Culture Guru

San Francisco, CA

I see more and more Taiwanese Americans embracing their culture and their identities. I see more Taiwanese Americans being less apologetic about their identity, and no longer having to explain the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese.

lin.irvin3Who are you?

I am second generation Taiwanese American. I am gay. I am a designer, a baker, a writer and a born & bred midwesterner – raised in St. Louis Missouri.

My current passion is cooking, baking and writing. I am staunch believer in eating local, organic and the slow food movement. I believe we need to shift our eating habits for both the health of ourselves, as well as the health of our planet. I believe that food is an integral part of our culture and of who we are.

I moved to San Francisco 12 years ago. I’ve been with my partner for 10 years now, a fellow midwesterner from Indiana. Together we throw dessert parties, photograph people and events (he’s a photographer, as well as a professor of chemistry), travel the world, and generally walk hand in hand through life.

What do you do?

As a graphic designer, the clients I’ve enjoyed working with most are non-profits, including the Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA), the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, and San Francisco Meals on Wheels. My current day job involves strategy, design and copywriting for national restaurant chains like Ben & Jerry’s and Baja Fresh.

Outside of work, I bake, photograph and blog constantly about my life. Baking is a way of sharing my love with my friends and those I care about. It’s a way of socializing and a way of connecting. Ultimately, it is a catalyst for storytelling in my life. Nearly all the pivotal events of my life can be traced back to food of some sort.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Born and raised in St. Louis, I had very little connection or realization of what it meant to be Taiwanese American until I got older – though my parents were always VERY specific in calling us Taiwanese Americans and not Chinese Americans. I have a distinct memory of asking the one other Asian classmate in my grade school if she spoke Taiwanese or Chinese, and she looked at me with scorn and said NO and stomped away (I later found out she was Korean).

It wasn’t until I visited Taiwan during one of the summers of college where I learned to appreciate what my heritage gave me. A democratic country that stands on defiantly on it’s own feet. A country rich with it’s own food and artwork and culture. It instilled in me a strength and independence to stand up and be who I am without apologizes.

However, ultimately what makes me proud of being Taiwanese American is my parents. The sacrifices they made to move to the United States to raise us. I love my family and I know that they love me. That’s makes me so proud.

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

I see more and more Taiwanese Americans embracing their culture and their identities. I see more Taiwanese Americans being less apologetic about their identity, and no longer having to explain the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese. I see Taiwanese Americans not only embracing themselves as who they are, but becoming comfortable with themselves as part of a large woven fabric of America’s cultures, one that includes Latinos, Hispanics, African Americans, Middle Eastern, other Asian Americans, various religious groups and the gay and lesbian communities.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese cuisines are sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves (bah-zhang), beef noodle soup, street vendor boiled dumplings (shui jiao), scallion pancakes, wax apples/bell fruit (oh, how I wish I could find bell fruit here in the US), and (gasp) the steamed pork buns and tea eggs you can find in any 7-11 on any street corner in Taipei.

You can read stories about my life and baking exploits at http://www.eatthelove.com.

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Eric Lin – Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association Board Member

Lexington, KY

More importantly in your daily lives, remember to stay involved: attend events, give back to your community, and be a leader.

lin.eric1Who are you?

I was born and raised in Kentucky, but attended college in sunny California at Stanford University.  I studied Biological Sciences and specialized in Cell and Molecular Biology.  Throughout college, my academic experiences and passions largely grew out of my technical research opportunities in infectious diseases, cancer biology, and pandemic influenza.  Taking my experiences in these fields and my desire for a healthier world, I am currently working on a research project that bridges the fields of genomics, bioinformatics, and commerce.  Outside of my career and academic focus, I am a fervent fan and follower of sports in particular Kentucky Basketball/Football and Stanford Basketball/Football.  My allegiance to those schools and my daily involvement in the sports world (fantasy sports, playing basketball, reading blogs, participating in the message board community) play a large part of who I am.

What do you do?

One month into my first year of college, I started being involved in the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) and almost five years later, I am still involved with ITASA as a member of the Board of Directors.  In the past five years, I have served in a variety of positions including National President, National Vice President, 2007 West Coast Conference Advisor, and District Chair.  I am proud that ITASA has eclipsed 18 years in existence and has grown from an organization with a few but passionate participants to an officially incorporated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with national impact, but a grassroots approach.  The organization has evolved from hosting regional conferences to offering expansive regional conferences, leadership retreats, regional grants, summer programs, a variety of online resources, and much more.  The college years are a crucial and significant time for personal growth, and I truly believe that ITASA has positively impacted the lives of thousands of Taiwanese Americans and non-Taiwanese Americans.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

What makes me most proud of my Taiwanese heritage (2nd generation Taiwanese American) are the people who are a part of this small, but tight-knit community.  A community with upwards of a million people in the US should not be able to make the impact that it does on American society, but it certainly does and a large percentage of the credit goes to first and second generation Taiwanese Americans who play a role in the acronym digest (ITASA, TA.org, TAF, TASA, TCS, TAA, TACL, NATWA, NATPA, NATEA, FAPA, etc.).  My first hand knowledge comes from my ITASA experience where I witnessed hundreds of students give up their valuable time, commitments, and energy to put on conferences, raise money, organize events, plan logistics, create programming material, and even cook dumplings.  Just seeing this dedication inspires me to do my absolute best for the community.

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

We’re at a critical time.  We are a strong, but small community and our population will continually decline in the next several years since we are the latter part of our current generation.  Consequently, all of you can make a significant difference.  Take this opportunity to educate others and correct misconceptions.  More importantly in your daily lives, remember to stay involved: attend events, give back to your community, and be a leader.  Remember you are a representative of the Taiwanese American community.  Make us proud.  Make a difference.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Visit the ITASA website at ITASA.org and join the abundance of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to stay in touch with ITASA events/programs.

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Ilin Chuang – Physician, Medical Researcher, and Naval Officer

Bethesda, MD

As diverse as the needs in our community, so should the young generation be encouraged to explore their interests more freely.

chuang.ilin4Who are you?

I am passionate about developing a public health measure that would affect millions of people’s lives. For the last 3 1/2 years I have been working on developing a vaccine for malaria. Malaria causes 200 to 300 million people to fall sick each year; among them, 1 – 2 million people die, and 75% of them are children younger than 5 years of age. I have specialty training in pediatrics, pediatric infectious diseases, preventive medicine, and public health –over-trained for sure but glad to see how it finally comes together. I am absolutely grateful for the recent milestone we have achieved on the highest level of protection by a gene-based vaccine approach.

What do you do?

My career path combining public health, research and service in the military is a road much less traveled among Taiwanese Americans and Asian Americans alike, but it has been a very exciting and fulfilling journey. I also feel strongly about being involved with the community to improve health at the local level including health fairs and international medical missions through church, work and the North American Taiwanese Medical Association (NATMA). International medical missions are great opportunities to train health care providers to practice medicine under austere conditions. Just think about disasters like Hurricane Katrina that we never imagined could happen in our country. These missions serve people with the greatest needs and also build goodwill for both Taiwan and the US.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am first generation Taiwanese American. I’m absolutely proud of my Taiwanese heritage and the traditional values passed on to me from my parents and grandparents: We value hard-work, taking good care of our families, taking care of people around you and beyond, being a good manager of our finances, loyalty, and doing your best in everything you put your heart into –all of these are so positive and practical (and make us less susceptible to the trauma of recessions). Taiwanese culture also embodies open-mindedness to new design and new ideas –I’m proud to be a Taiwanese American!

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

Taiwanese Americans have so much potential –we are one of the most driven and highly accomplished communities. I would love to see a lot more people become involved in our community to advance health and diplomacy together. There is a serious lack of health data about our community; Clinical trials and public health do not have applicable data for Asians because we don’t participate in the trials or surveys. Make sure you fill out the census. Without data, there is no funding, no support to focus on improving the specific health issues in our communities. Being involved in international medical missions will help you personally and professionally, and it helps Taiwan and the US. We also should be more involved at the health policy level. I would love to see more young people with well-rounded backgrounds in public health and health policy –both will serve the Taiwanese American communities in immeasurable ways.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I just want to encourage Taiwanese American parents and the new generation to be more open-minded in their career choices. As diverse as the needs in our community, so should the young generation be encouraged to explore their interests more freely. Highly accomplished writers, musicians, politicians, diplomats (which we desperately need), athletes –all will bring honor to our community, raise visibility, and increase our influence in society. We need to be more vocal in our opinions and remember to educate anyone we know about Taiwan –we are instant diplomats for Taiwan!

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Cossette Sun – Community Advocate and Retired Law Library Director

Castro Valley, CA

When I left Taiwan, the government was corrupt and oppressive, lacking freedom of speech and human rights. The democratic movement in recent years has changed the political landscape in Taiwan.

sun.cossette1Who are you?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan; attended Taipei Junior and Senior High Schools, and graduated with a LL.B. from the National Taiwan University Law School. I received a master’s degree in political science with a desire to work in the United Nations; wrote a thesis on “A Study of Voting Blocs in the General Asembly.” I did not fulfill the dream to become a diplomat, however. I subsequently pursued my second master’s degree in library science and a career in law librarianship. I am a mother of three grown daughters and six grandchildren.

What do you do?

I was law library director from 1977 to 2008 at the Alameda County Law Library in Oakland, California. Being active in the legal community, I have the opportunity to work with judges, attorneys, and elected officials at local, state and federal levels. I was a council member for the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council,  and I serve as a board member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, a member of the Leaque of Women Voters, and a library advocate. I continue to serve as president of the Alameda-Taoyuan Sister County Association. I work out daily to stay fit, and set aside time to be with the grandchildren.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be a Taiwanese American. Taiwan is my homeland, birth place where I grew up and was educated through college. When I left Taiwan, the government was corrupt and oppressive, lacking freedom of speech and human rights. The democratic movement in recent years has changed the political landscape in Taiwan. I hope it will become a true democratic country.

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

The Taiwanese Americans are hard-working people. They can do just about anything successfully. The second generation has many opportunities that the first generation lack. Many have become doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, musicians and some politicians. They will be part of the main stream America and hold a bright future.


Ivy Chow – Ballet Dancer, Instructor, and Program Assistant

Washington, DC

I would love to combine my passion for dancing and Taiwan together, potentially starting a summer camp or school in Taiwan.

chow.ivy8Who are you?

I was born and raised in the metropolitan DC area. During childhood, dancing was a hobby but by high school I discovered that ballet was my passion. Before college, I was invited into Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s trainee program. This gave me the chance to perform alongside the professional company and learned the ins and out of being a part of a ballet company. After a couple years, I was accepted into the Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music in Ballet Performance. While at Indiana University, I was given the chance to perform lead and supporting roles. I also was on the Pre-College Ballet faculty teaching ages 3-18 and taught college ballet elective for undergraduate and graduate students. Discovering my capabilities as a teacher really broadened my horizons after graduation. This helped me land a job within arts administration and ballet instruction at CityDance Ensemble’s school. I’m very excited to share my love of dance.

What do you do?

I work at CityDance Center at the Strathmore located in Washington DC. I am a ballet instructor in the school and work closely with the Director of Education, Lorraine Spiegler in program assisting and administrative support for the Conservatory, Select and Pre-Select Pre-Professional Studies Program. This program offers pre-professional training for serious intermediate and advance dancers ages 13 to 19 by expanding their dance and music knowledge, and developing multi-cultural appreciation and understanding through international dance projects and exchanges. I assist with all performances and communicate with students and parents regarding weekly programming decisions, rehearsals and exciting news.

I find it enriching to teach and help the next generation of young dancers use our school to achieve their dreams or to get into prestigious colleges to study dance related majors. I want to bring an appreciation back to the foundation of it all, ballet. I love dancing contemporary works myself but classical training and appreciation is essential to success in all dance genres. I would love to combine my passion for dancing and Taiwan together, potentially starting a summer camp or school in Taiwan.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am 2nd generation Taiwanese American. My family has been very active in the Taiwanese community. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington DC has brought many opportunities to experience an array of events. I remember protesting in front of the Chinese Embassy shouting “One Taiwan, One China!”, going to Taiwanese American conferences such as TAC/EC and TAF, and even attending a dinner with former Taiwanese president A-Bian’s wife. After meeting many fellow Taiwanese Americans, I have realized that we are extremely motivated to make progress and change, not only in politics, but in our fields of work.

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

I see the growth and development, and many success stories of Taiwanese Americans in mainstream America. I want to be a part of this growing community and build awareness of Taiwanese Americans in this country so that we can find success in every field.

Any additional information you would like to share?

http://www.citydance.net/strathmore.cfm is the website for the school I work for.

I love boba!!

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Gee-Wey Yue – Youth Mentor and Young Professional Organizer

Austin, TX

As an underrepresented and often misunderstood community, I am proud to break stereotypes and be a banner bearer for my Taiwanese heritage.

yue.geewey2Who are you?

I am Gee-Wey Yue, a 22-year old recent college graduate in Austin, Texas.  My passion for youth development started when I attended Chinese Youth Camp in Houston, Texas.  I was convinced that I would become involved like the aunties and uncles helping out at the camp.  When I attended The University of Texas at Austin, I found an opportunity to do community development work through the Vietnamese Students Association, working both locally and nationally.  With the perspective I have gained on cultural parallels and common types of experiences shared by the Vietnamese and Taiwanese, I am now taking the next step to bring my own cultural experience full circle.

What do you do?

I like the idea of helping people help themselves and connecting people to one another.  Recently, I worked with student organization leaders at The University of Texas at Austin to form an Asian American umbrella organization.  I also have helped lead workshops in regional conferences like APAEC and the iTASA 2010 Midwest Conference.  I am developing a nonprofit I co-founded that focuses on bringing together and engaging Asian American alumni from The University of Texas at Austin.  In the future, I will focus more on working with high school and college students to provide leadership opportunities and develop leadership skills.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I was born and raised in a small town in Texas with a tight-knit Taiwanese community.  Since there were so few Taiwanese families, I was naturally proud to represent my Taiwanese heritage.  I am blessed that my loving parents spent the time to teach me to be fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and I am proud that I can speak to my grandparents in my native tongue.  I hope I can pass on the same gift to my children one day so they can speak with my parents.  As an underrepresented and often misunderstood community, I am proud to break stereotypes and be a banner bearer for my Taiwanese heritage.

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

I believe Taiwanese America will gain a more unique identity in the future than currently, and the different cultural pathways taken in recent years by China and Taiwan will lead more people to differentiate between the two.  I foresee more second generation Taiwanese yearning to reconnect with their heritage and visiting Taiwan for self-discovery.  I hope that there will be more college-level courses offered exploring the history of Taiwan and the journey of Taiwanese immigration to America.  I also hope more leaders of Taiwanese America will join together and be more unified.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My grandmother’s cooking is my favorite Taiwanese food, hands down.  www.asiantexasexes.org is the site of the Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network nonprofit that I helped co-found.  I like to think I defy stereotypes, like a super-hero figure with “I’m not what you think” powers.

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Jimmy Chou – Husband, Father, and Value Seeker

Williamsburg, VA

America is at an inflection point where the need for innovation, strong spirit, and hard work has never been stronger. Taiwanese Americans have an incredible opportunity to help lead the way towards a brighter America.

chou.jimmy3Who are you?

I am a lucky husband and father of two brilliant boys. I enjoy all things related to “play” and have been known to make anything into a game. My life goal is to help raise our kids to love life and have the passion to share their many gifts with the world. I am a graduate with a B.S. in Business, concentration in Finance from Wake Forest University and a CFA Charterholder.

What do you do?

I am a managing consultant at Dominion Digital, a Mid-Atlantic regional process and technology consulting company. My passions at work are focused on helping our clients define, measure, and deliver value on their most important projects. I am also very interested in leveraging my interest in behavioral finance to create a more holistic corporate and project decision making model that takes into account some of our behavioral tendencies and flaws.

I am also passionate about leadership and growing a team of leaders. I aim to be measured by the value that our collective team creates for our clients and our communities.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a first generation Taiwanese American, I am proud of the culture of hard work and persistence that is so embedded in everything we do. How else can such a “small” nation have such a big global economic presence? Love it.

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

The future of Taiwanese America is bright and uniquely both Taiwanese and American. America is at an inflection point where the need for innovation, strong spirit, and hard work has never been stronger. Taiwanese Americans have an incredible opportunity to help lead the way towards a brighter America.

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Arthur Chyan – Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association National President

Albany, CA

I have such a difficult time generalizing anything about the Taiwanese culture and diaspora, which is a testament to its richness.

chyan.arthur3Who are you?

I am currently a senior at Swarthmore College, and this academic year, I am also acting as the National President for the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA). Growing up near Berkeley, I was spoiled by all of the rich cultures that surrounded me. Now in an academic environment where I see a greater distinction between mainstream/majority cultures and my own varied identities, I have embarked upon a path towards better understanding myself and how I want to relate to the rest of the world. One of my realizations: I want to do as much direct service to others as I can in my small amount of time on the planet, so someday soon, I hope to offer medical services to give one person after another the chance to continue enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

What do you do?

This year, a lot of my life is dedicated to inspiring, empowering and activating the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American community. Through ITASA programming, outreach and resources, we support collegiate events and then keep everyone informed about all of these events. Check out our regional conferences, website, newsletter, regional grants and more!

Personally, I try to maintain all of this great stuff that ITASA already does while also adding to our list of endeavors. For example, starting next year, ITASA will have a greater philanthropic role! Visit our website to learn how to join the team and participate!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Most personally, I appreciate the complex history and relationship that the island of Taiwan has and has had with the rest of the world. There has been much transformation from a colonial past, much violence stemming from the clamor by zealous supporters on any part of the spectrum in the independence/unification debate, and more. I enjoy the power to harness these aspects to create and recreate all of these identities with my experiences in America to form a unique 2nd generation Taiwanese American persona every single day.

Moreover, I have such a difficult time generalizing anything about the Taiwanese culture and diaspora, which is a testament to its richness. Despite the fluid nature of this heritage that I fail to articulate in words, I am proud to share a sense of connection with so many other amazing people!

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

I envision a Taiwanese American where more people recognize their past, present and futures. Instead of rejecting any of these aspects, these same people will carry the advantageous along with the imperfect. These same people also hold a more global outlook on life and act with the desire of sustaining our world for future generations to come.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Learn more about ITASA!

WEBSITE | www.itasa.org
FACEBOOK | www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2204577452
TWITTER | twitter.com/itasa

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[email protected]


Stephanie Lin – Content Producer and Reporter

New York, NY

I hope to understand and convey the views of minorities and Taiwanese Americans to educate and diversify perspectives in the United States.

lin.stephanie2Who are you?

Born in San Jose, CA, I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I currently work as a Content Producer for NBC in New York City. I graduated UC Berkeley with dual degrees in Mass Communications and Chinese. I am also an alumni of the NBC Page Program and a former News Trainee with Taiwan’s cable channel, TTV.

I owe much of my success to my parents, whom immigrated to the US in the early 1980s. They left family and good jobs behind to venture into the great unknown – jetting and driving from California to Tennessee to Mississippi and back – to pursue higher education and secure a better lifestyle for their children. I can only imagine the difficulties they encountered and overcame. I am incredibly grateful for their sacrifice and support.

I have two younger siblings, both in college, and lots of pets – a dog, a turtle, a fish, and yes, even pigeons. I speak Mandarin Chinese fluently and am seeking a good Taiwanese language course!

What do you do?

Journalism plays a prominent role in my day to day activities. I was bitten by the news bug early, and landed my first opportunity at TTV in 2006. I have practiced video journalism ever since, shooting, writing, and editing stories for broadcast.

As a Content Producer in a major news market, I have the opportunity to tell stories of great importance to a large audience via multiple platforms – TV, the web, mobile phones and even taxicabs. Eventually I hope to work as a foreign correspondent in Asia for a major network, or as a news reader for a cable channel in Taiwan.

I am always on the lookout for a good story. I hope to understand and convey the views of minorities and Taiwanese Americans to educate and diversify perspectives in the United States.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I grew up snacking on Suncakes and Ba-wan. My mom played Minnan cassette tapes in the car when she picked me up from school. Though I am American, there is a part of me that will always be uniquely and undeniably Taiwanese.

I recently returned from a trip to Taiwan, where I began to piece together my family’s past in Taichung. I am so proud to have come from people who saved and sacrificed so much to provide better opportunities for those who came after.

There is truly no place on Earth like Formosa. We can build hundreds of Tapioca Express and Ten Ren Tea stores here in the US, but you won’t be able to find another Xi Men Ding or Taipei 101 anywhere else.

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

In the future, I hope Taiwanese Americans will utilize the education they obtained from American institutions to improve not only the socioeconomic and political facets of the US, but of Taiwan. I strongly believe that Taiwan’s economy, political system and news media will benefit from our knowledge and support.

Secondly, I hope those of the younger Taiwanese American generation will embrace learning their cultural backgrounds and understand the importance of learning the stories and language of their roots. Knowing how to speak Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese, for example is useful and essential in preserving and promoting our culture in America.

Finally, I hope to see Taiwanese Americans successful in fields not traditionally expected of them – while we will continue to excel in healthcare, business and computer engineering, we will also flourish in the music, news and entertainment industries here in the United States.

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Edwin Ou – Agent of Change

San Francisco, CA

I am a lifelong student, embracing each day as an opportunity to do more with life.  And I am driven in my pursuit of the change I wish to see in the world.

ou.edwin1Who are you?

I am a proud son of Taiwanese heritage, the first on both sides of my family to be born away from the island in many, many generations.  I am older brother to the kindest man you may ever get to know.  I am shaped by the diversity of friends whom I keep, places I that I’ve been, and successes and failures that I’ve experienced.  Beyond my time at Rice University and the University of California, Berkeley, I am a lifelong student, embracing each day as an opportunity to do more with life.  And I am driven in my pursuit of the change I wish to see in the world.

In short, I am Taiwanese American.

What do you do?

I surf.  I climb.  I travel (preferably to wherever there’s a coastline, though work sends me to places like Indonesia and Kenya –and I love it!).  I’ve cloned DNA in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer.  I’ve toiled amidst the World Trade Center ruins as a Red Cross disaster volunteer, post-9/11.  I once flew 14 times between Hawai’i and California –in one calendar year.  I grew my hair long, donated 26 inches of it, and then shaved my head.  I live Aloha.  I try to pay things forward, having taught hundreds how to ride waves and granted even more their requests for career advice.  Professionally, I’ve played i-banker, Internet startup techie, nonprofit technology business developer, Ambassador of Aloha for Quiksilver Hawai’i, and COO for a marine conservation group.  I’m currently a funder of social entrepreneurs dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.  I also karaoke –quite badly!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a second generation Taiwanese American, I am proudest of my parents and their having overcome so many obstacles –including cultural, financial, and political –to seek and attain greater opportunity for their family.  I am also proud of their dedication to nurturing in each of us a strong sense of identity as members of a broader Taiwanese community.

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

I believe that identifying as being Taiwanese American will increasingly require adopting a more inclusive mindset, borne out of recognition that we exist as part of a global community that is becoming more and more heterogeneous.  More so now than ever, we represent a kaleidoscope of backgrounds, colors, and beliefs.

As with our predecessors from Taiwan, we are forging a new path through unchartered waters.  It behooves us to honor that sense of community, which has bound us together through so much political and cultural turmoil, and seek ways to engage others about our heritage, rather than exclude them from it.

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Pamela Hung – Student Leader and Mentor

Evanston, IL

Coming from a very Taiwanese southern California town, being in the Midwest has helped me appreciate my Taiwanese roots and celebrate them with those around me.

hung.pamela6Who are you?

I’m a sophomore at Northwestern University originally from southern California. I’m studying cognitive science and math methods in social sciences and considering pre-med because I’m still not sure of my career path. People at school call me a Taiwanese extremist because I’m constantly telling people about Taiwanese American issues and am overly involved in all things Taiwanese American. I was an executive board member of our Taiwanese American Students Club and a counselor for the Taiwanese American Citizens League Leadership Identity Development (TACL-LID) Camp, and will serve as co-director for the 2011 Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) Midwest Conference. But what really defines me is my passion for food. You can always find me eating food, thinking about food, relating all things in life through food metaphors, or generally obsessing about food.

What do you do?

I eat!  Food is part of what makes life beautiful to me. Part of the picture includes exploring because you can’t eat good food unless you find it. So another of my pastimes is roaming about cities and small neighborhoods looking for delicious eateries. Another one of my main activities is preaching the “Taiwanese gospel.” I’m certainly not comparing Taiwan to Jesus, but I believe that Taiwan’s cultural, historical and political motley is a story that should be heard by as many as possible. I let others know that I am Taiwanese American and bring up relevant talking points, probably more often than I should. That’s probably why people label me as being really Taiwanese, and I honestly just can’t help it.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I was taught to call myself “Taiwanese” and was raised with the Taiwanese language. While I was trained from birth to be proud of my heritage, I’m also proud because Taiwan is like an underdog you can’t help but cheer for. Taiwan is such a small island, but it’s replete with amazing natural resources, good-hearted intelligent people and of course, delicious food. Like an underdog, Taiwan has shown courage in the face of great danger. To make up for its size, Taiwan has maintained a strong and independent-minded stance. Even outside of the island, Taiwan is inspiring. It’s amazing seeing so many successful individuals and ideas that sprung from Taiwan spread throughout the world. I’m especially proud of the community that the Taiwanese has formed in America. With such a strong tight-knit network, I can count on this community for guidance or just fun times. I think a change in the environment has also promoted my Taiwanese American pride. Coming from a very Taiwanese southern California town, being in the Midwest has helped me appreciate my Taiwanese roots and celebrate them with those around me. In my heart and in my mind, I am proud to call myself Taiwanese. 

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

I dream of a Taiwanese America where everyone is aware of their heritage. Everyone has a different story, from their roots in China or Taiwan to their journey to America. But many aren’t aware of just how rich their background is. Sometimes, parents don’t want to talk about their past. Other times, people just aren’t interested or don’t even want to be affiliated with the Taiwanese community. But I’m sure that if people simply realized how interesting and amazing their stories were, they would be more prone to celebrate their heritage. In fact, this doesn’t apply to just Taiwanese Americans. Most everyone in America has some story of where they came from and how it influences them today. America is a place to celebrate different cultures, and Taiwanese Americans should help lead the way.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I miss manto + soymilk from Taiwan’s 7-11!

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Audrey Jean – Corporate Attorney and New Mom

Alexandria, Virginia

Although Taiwan’s democracy and civic institutions have yet to fully mature, they still present an amazing contrast to the authoritarian and fearful days of the past.

jean.audrey1Who are you?

I am a corporate attorney in the legal department of Discovery Communications (parent company of Discovery Channel, Science Channel, TLC, etc.) Previously, I worked for a couple large law firms in New York City and Washington DC. I was born and raised in Long Island, NY, and attended Princeton University for undergrad, then Georgetown University for law school. I grew up within the NY area Taiwanese cultural and church communities, Taiwanese American Conference -East Coast (TAC-EC), as well as a teeming clan of Taiwanese extended family. As a student, I was an active board member of the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA), and am currently involved in Taiwanese American Professionals – DC (TAP-DC) and American Citizens of Taiwanese Origin(ACTO). I live in the Washington DC suburbs with my husband and baby son.

What do you do?

My main interests include travel (favorite places being Asia and Europe), cooking and entertaining, modern art, classical music, fashion, history, politics, and religion. My primary activities at the moment however, consist of the more mundane – commuting, working, making bottles, changing diapers, and household errands. I spend my spare time trying to catch up with my husband, friends and family, and squeeze in the occasional yoga class. I aspire to get back into my interests once I get a better handle on parenthood, or when I retire, whichever comes first!

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

The primal and visceral connection I have to my mother tongue, childhood cuisine, and family’s culture means that I will forever be attached to and proud of my Taiwanese heritage. In addition, I am so proud and impressed by Taiwan’s economic development and political transformation in my own short lifetime. Although Taiwan’s democracy and civic institutions have yet to fully mature, they still present an amazing contrast to the authoritarian and fearful days of the past. The vibrancy of the people and society today invigorate me every time I am able to return for a visit. Finally, the accomplishments of other Taiwanese Americans in the US, in various professional and artistic fields, makes me extremely proud to be part of this community.

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

I look forward to more and more prominent Taiwanese Americans in American business, media and politics, who younger Taiwanese Americans will look up to and feel proud identifying with (something that wasn’t there when my cousins and I were growing up). I wish for international recognition of Taiwan’s political status, that will translate into greater perception and respect by others of who we are as a people. And finally I imagine a stronger and more united community, that can share its stories, strengths, and connections with each other across more platforms (as TaiwaneseAmerican.org is doing online).

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Pam Tsai – Retired Scientist / Consultant and Tireless Volunteer

Albany, CA

My dream, someday not too far away in the future, is to have a Taiwanese American elected as President of the United States.

tsai.pam1Who are you?

I was born in Taitung during World War II when America was bombing Taiwan, a colony of Japan, and my family was fleeing from the city to a countryside area.  I grew up in Tainan and went to college in Taipei.  I am the youngest in the family with four older brothers.  My mother never went to school. My dad got only two years of education but he self educated himself by reading lots of books.  Two of my brothers went to college and I am the luckiest one in the family.  I attended four elementary schools, one middle/high school, one college, and four graduate schools, spending a total of 24 years in schools.  Coming to the U.S. was never in my plan, but I ended up in the U.S. for a reason. I eventually received my doctorate degree from Harvard School of Public Health, fulfilling a poor family’s dream.

What do you do?

It is an interesting path that took me from a horticulture major student to a registered dietitian and eventually to become a certified toxicologist. I credited that to the solid science background I built up in college. I used to work at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations, and an environmental consulting firm holding a variety of titles such as environmental scientist, toxicologist, program manager, senior science advisor, or manager. I worked with the EPA for more than 20 years working on abating air and water pollution, and evaluating potential adverse health effects from exposure to pollutants. After retirement, I devoted my time volunteering for a variety of Taiwanese Associations in the San Francisco Bay Area. I served as the president for the Taiwanese American Federation of Northern California and the East Bay Taiwanese Association in the past.  I am currently the president of the San Jose-Tainan Sister City Association.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a first generation Taiwanese who emigrated to the U.S.  I am proud of my heritage because Taiwanese have excellent personal traits of being honest, hard working, trust worthy, and intellectual. Taiwan has rich cultural background due to its unique history probably dating back to at least 3,000 years. Some anthropological evidence suggests that Taiwan may have a history of more than 20,000 years. Taiwan is a melting pot that was enriched by a variety of cultures. In addition to the diverse culture of aboriginal origins, Taiwanese culture was influenced by the Ming and Ching Dynasties, Dutch, Spanish, Japan, and more recently by China. Due to a diverse cultural background, the Taiwanese are more tolerant and more inclined to embrace diversity.

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

I hope Taiwan, our motherland, will soon become a truly democratic country and is recognized by the international community. My hope for the future America is to have strong voice in the Senate and Congress on the national stage as well as strong voice at the state and local levels. We need to have more Taiwanese Americans elected as government officers at the highest level.  My dream, someday not too far away in the future, is to have a Taiwanese American elected as President of the United States.


Charlie Chang – Singer-songwriter and Online Marketing Expert

Los Angeles, CA

Taiwan may be a small, but the culture (food, film, music, architecture) and the people are so much bigger than the island it lives on.

chang.charlie1Who are you?

I am Charlie Chang and I’ve been singing, playing guitar, and writing music for 8 years. If you knew me when I was 7 years old you would have never thought I would be making music. I was the kid that would cry at the piano when my mom would make me practice before lessons. My love for music came later when I fell in love with singing in middle school. High school was filled with theatre, musicals, plays, and choir so I decided to major in music at Azusa Pacific University. I’ve been playing all over Southern California and have continued to write and record.

What do you do?

I am an Online Marketing Coordinator at Universal Music Group Distribution by day and a singer-songwriter by night. My day job at UMGD consists of working on online marketing initiatives for UMG artists/bands including online grassroots marketing and running the online marketing internship at UMGD. In the evenings I’m writing, recording, playing shows, and if I’m not doing that then I’m at home, hanging out with my fiancee or playing on the PS3.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. I lived in Taiwan for a brief period as a kid and travel back at least once or twice a year. Taiwan may be a small, but the culture (food, film, music, architecture) and the people are so much bigger than the island it lives on. Everytime I’m there I can never get enough.

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

As we enter into the workforce, politics, entertainment, etc. our jobs, duties, and perspectives will start to bring more attention to Taiwan. I see a huge presence of Taiwanese Americans shaping the way that America and the rest of the world views Taiwan.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Favorite Taiwanese food: Din Tai Fung

Website: www.charliechangmusic.com
Listen to music at: www.myspace.com/charliechangmusic
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/charlie_chang

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Naomi Hsu – Ph.D. Candidate and Resident Census Expert

Hercules, CA

I am proud of the pioneers of Taiwanese America who laid the foundations and built the infrastructure for a community that spans city, county and state borders, and that is woven into the American political context.

hsu.naomi3Who are you?

I was born in Taiwan, but my family emigrated to the U.S. when I was one.  I grew up mostly in southern California but also lived for a few years in Pennsylvania and had brief stints in Connecticut and Taiwan.  I went to college at UCLA and am now in graduate school at UC Berkeley.  My husband, James, and I live in the East Bay of Northern California.

What do you do?

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology Department at UC Berkeley, where I am (or claim to be) riding out the recession by working on my dissertation at a strategically leisurely pace.  In the Taiwanese American community, I have served as a Taiwanese American Citizens League’s Leadership in Development (TACL-LID) camp counselor, a TACL Political Internship Program mentor, an at-large member of the TACL National Board, and a campaigner for the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Censuses. If I had more free time, I would enjoy learning new languages and traveling around the world. For the time being, I appease my wanderlust by grubbing in San Francisco’s J-Town, K-Town, French Quarter, Little Italy, Mission District, etc.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud of the early Taiwanese activists who valiantly struggled, often enduring unthinkable sacrifices in the process, to dismantle the yokes of oppression, discrimination, and stigma that deprived the majority of Taiwan’s population of freedom, justice and dignity.  I am proud of the pioneers of Taiwanese America who laid the foundations and built the infrastructure for a community that spans city, county and state borders, and that is woven into the American political context.

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

The Taiwanese America I envision is one in which all Taiwanese Americans are knowledgeable about the origins of their collective identity, and in turn educate others about that identity, breaking down misconceptions and building understanding.  I also envision a Taiwanese America that adopts the justice-oriented spirit of the original activists in Taiwan and directs it towards social activism in the U.S., working collaboratively with other communities who share similar visions.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I make a mean goo-bah-mi, and my yu-bung’s not bad, either!  Taiwan pi-jo rocks! (Okay, not really, but I had to say it!)

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Teresa Wu – Writer, Editor, and Blogger

La Jolla, CA

I love the Taiwanese American culture and the community that we’ve built around our shared identity.

wu.teresa1Who are you?

I’m a freelance writer and blogger focusing on college, food, travel, and women’s lifestyle. In addition to writing a biweekly column for the UCSD Guardian, my work has appeared in a variety of online publications, including Glamour, College Candy, and Lemondrop. Previously, I’ve interned at Glamour magazine, Mediabistro, Unigo, VaynerMedia, and AOL’s Mediaglow. I’m also co-creator of mymomisafob.com, a humor blog that publishes endearing emails, IMs, texts, and conversations from first-generation Asian mothers. The site reaches 50,000 monthly viewers.

What do you do?

I’m still a student at UCSD, but I freelance for a “living” — I do some blogging, copy-editing, and copywriting work. I spent an obsessive amount of time with the internet, but my favorite IRL hobby is frequenting new restaurants. I live in San Diego, California with four sorority girls and one mini-dachshund. (The burritos here are as good as they say.)

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I’m 2nd-generation Taiwanese — and proud because I love my motherland. We are a small population of people who are doing exceptional and incredible things in spite of all adversity. I love the Taiwanese American culture and the community that we’ve built around our shared identity.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My blog is http://byteresawu.com, and I love stinky tofu like a true Taiwanese.

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Jay Chen – School Board Member and Man of Many Trades

Hacienda Heights, CA

I was elected in 2007, and since then have helped bring edible school gardens, renewable energy, and college application workshops to our campuses, as well as Mandarin language classes to our elementary and middle schools.

chen.jay2Who are you?

I have been at various points of my life a chef, travel writer, sailor, soldier, chocolate maker, consultant, translator, rent collector, salesman, diplomat, activist, elected, and improviser.

What do you do?

I serve on the school board for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, which services 20,000 K-12 students and about 30,000 adult school students, and is one of the largest districts in the San Gabriel Valley (and has a very large Taiwanese American population).  I was elected in 2007, and since then have helped bring edible school gardens, renewable energy, and college application workshops to our campuses, as well as Mandarin language classes to our elementary and middle schools.  I also get involved with political issues and candidates that motivate me (President Obama being one of them). However, if you ask my significant other, Karen, she would probably say the only thing I do is play Modern Warfare 2.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan is delicious (street food heaven), high-tech (they make most of the LCD screens we park ourselves in front of all day), and democratic (that is, when they aren’t practicing MMA in the legislative chamber… but even that is entertaining).  What’s not to love?

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

From my political lens it looks very bright.  Taiwanese Americans have ascended to top positions across the nation, from California State Controller, to New York Comptroller, to President of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.  In the near future I think we will see a Taiwanese American governor.  I just hope that more Taiwanese Americans will recognize the need to engage in U.S. politics with at least the same fervor as they react to Taiwanese politics; instead of buying a plane ticket to cast a vote in Taiwan, why don’t you donate that money to John Chiang’s campaign?  In the long run it will help you and our community that much more.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My current favorite Taiwanese food is ba-wan.  My mother has found an amazing supplier based out of San Diego.  You also can’t beat a freshly grilled xiang chang, with its skin charred just so, ready to burst and dribble sausage juiciness down your chin and ruin your shirt.

Befriend me via: electjaychen.com, facebook.com/jaychen, twitter.com/jfchen

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Kelly Lin – Student and Aspiring Artist

Plainfield, IL

But even through the struggles, the Taiwanese people have still kept their identity alive. This admirable perseverance and dignity represents how strong Taiwan is and how strong we are as a people.

lin.kelly3Who are you?

Hey, I’m Kelly! I was born in Chicago in the spring of 1993. Although I’m a second generation Taiwanese American, I spent my childhood in Taipei, Taiwan speaking Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese as my first and second languages. Around the time I was about to enter grade school, I flew back to Chicago to start my schooling. It was pretty hard to understand at a young age why I had to acclimate myself in such an unfamiliar place, but I got along OK. After graduating from ESL, I quickly made English my first language. My parents, wished for me to explore my creative side as well, so I found art. Pretty soon, I discovered my two passions, languages and art. And I guess that’s pretty much who I am, a language nerd and art geek.

What do you do?

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a geek. I pretty much spend my days drawing. I’ve dabbled with acrylics, paints, markers, charcoal, colored pencil, clay, pastel, and Adobe Photoshop. But my favorite is still the good ol’ pen and pencil. Most people know me as a wannabe manga artist, which I enjoy being.  But, recently, I’ve been trying to expand my abilities to expressing who I am instead of pleasing others. I am Christian and after reading the Bible and Paradise Lost for inspiration, I created a disturbing surrealist piece to convey what I feel awaits man at the end. On a brighter note though, I’m also trying to use my skills to reconnect fellow Taiwanese American Foundation campers to the beauty of the Mother Country. Although I haven’t ventured far into this project, I feel that many would appreciate reminiscing beautiful nature of Formosa or just a 7-Eleven convenience mart. I really wish in the near future, that I can share my love for my home with everyone, Taiwanese or not.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud to be a second generation Taiwanese American. I’ve always viewed Taiwan as the underdog of all the Asian countries; one of the smallest but very influential. Historically speaking, Taiwan has endured being occupied by the Dutch, the Chinese and the Japanese. But even through the struggles, the Taiwanese people have still kept their identity alive. This admirable perseverance and dignity represents how strong Taiwan is and how strong we are as a people. Also, the Taiwanese American Foundation has made me more proud to be of Taiwanese heritage. The staff, the campers, and the community have really helped reunite me with my roots.

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Tyson Mao – Rubik’s Cube Master and Co-Founder of World Cube Association

Burlingame, CA

I am proud to be Taiwanese American because I feel that Taiwan has a lot to offer to the international community. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I hope to contribute to the world like so many other Taiwanese Americans have.

mao.tyson4Who are you?

I am a young professional currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area.  To pay my bills, I am in high-frequency trading, but mostly I’m known for starting the World Cube Association, the international organization responsible for regulating competitive Rubik’s Cube solving.  In 2005, I set the world record for solving a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube while blindfolded.  My brother and I also taught Will Smith to solve the Rubik’s Cube for the movie Pursuit of Happyness.  I have been on a number of television shows such as Anderson Cooper 360, The Today Show, and Tonight with Jay Leno.  Perhaps I am most remembered for being a cast member on the WB’s reality show, Beauty and the Geek 2.

What do you do?

I make my living as a high-frequency trader utilizing algorithmic computer programs to interact with the market in various ways.  Some things I do contribute to market liquidity, and other things I do are simply to make a profit.  Outside of that, I am responsible for the world of competitive Rubik’s Cube solving.  The organization I formed, the World Cube Association, oversees events on an international level, and recently I had the privilege of attending a competition in Taiwan.  Besides my work an my involvement with the WCA, I enjoy some other very “Taiwanese” things like playing the violin and piano, and playing badminton.  I also enjoy playing chess and have recently taken up rock climbing.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American.  I was born in the United States and my parents are immigrants from Tainan, Taiwan.  I am proud to be Taiwanese American because I feel that Taiwan has a lot to offer to the international community. I’m proud to be a part of it, and I hope to contribute to the world like so many other Taiwanese Americans have.  Recently attending the Taiwanese Rubik’s Cube competition showed me how my ties to Taiwan, even though I very rarely visit, has contributed to producing a thriving Rubik’s Cube community, and now Taiwan has some of the top solvers in the world in 4×4, 5×5 speed solving, and 3×3 blindfold solving.  We’re a small nation, but Taiwanese Americans have done a lot for humanity in many ways.

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

I’m not exactly sure, but I would like to see Taiwanese Americans as our generation goes forward and the next generation comes into this world as contributors to our society, and also as a group that not only preserves its cultural roots, but also adapts to the changing times and environment.  I am quite proud that I am able to converse in Taiwanese, and language is something I would like to see preserved.  It’s difficult for me in Taipei when my peers are unable to speak Taiwanese as well as me, and I’ve grown up my entire life in the United States.  I think it’s a wonderful language, and there are some ideas in Taiwanese that you simply just can’t express in English.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I actually recently just spent two weeks in Taiwan and it was a fabulous experience.  I had the opportunity to visit my aunt’s high school in Tainan and actually there’s an article you can see [here].  Taiwan is a wonderful place, and though to be honest, being born and raised in America, I am truly a foreigner, it doesn’t stop me from imagining what my life would be like had my parents stayed in Tainan.  I think I could have had fun!

(Of course… I’d probably be in tutoring centers until 9pm while preparing for college entrance exams.  Their math is beyond anything seen here in American high schools!)

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Amy Liao – Dentist and Servant to the World

Philadelphia, PA

I love that I can move to a new city and find instant connections on Taiwanese association directories.

liao.amy1Who are you?

I am aspiring to be multilingual, as well as a mentor, a musician, and a missionary. My attitude, worldview and life goals are a product of my eccentric family, Canadian roots, mid-western living, Sunday school, sports injuries, hours and hours of piano lessons, study/service abroad experiences in five continents, Taiwanese American conferences, and the amazing people I’ve met along the journey.

What do you do?

Currently I work as a dentist at Esperanza Health Center, a faith-based non-profit organization in the Latino neighbourhood of inner city Philadelphia. My co-workers and patients are mainly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It’s great identifying with them about islander culture and immigrant life. We also talk about family, spirituality, health, struggles, and why it is important to floss.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a Canadian-born, U.S.-naturalized Taiwanese North American. I love that I grew up surrounded by lots of Taiwanese students, professors, activists and travelers staying at our house for dinner or for the night. I love that Taiwanese people have organizations for anything and everything, and that we get together all over the world. I love that I can move to a new city and find instant connections on Taiwanese association directories. I love that Taiwanese American retirees will attend a heavy metal rock concert simply because a band member is Taiwanese.

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

I hope we can continue to be a loving, hospitable, influential, and creative community.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Sometimes I like to sew costumes.

The best thing I ever ate in Taiwan was a nice fatty slab of freshly caught sah-bah-hee (milkfish?) pan fried and lightly salted by my late grandmother.

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Karin Wang – Civil Rights Advocate

Los Angeles, CA

My hope is that we leverage our collective talents for a greater good…

wang.karin1Who are you?

I was born and raised in the Midwest, during a time when the “model minority” myth was pervasive and Vincent Chin’s murder was defining a generation of Asian Americans.  Between my Taiwanese heritage and my childhood in a place where people thought I was Mexican (because Taiwanese or Asian did not compute), I found myself increasingly drawn to civil rights work.  Like many other Taiwanese Americans my age, I started college as pre-med, but I promptly flunked an advanced chemistry quiz and realized I needed a new career path.  I thought being a lawyer would let me work on issues I cared about.  Ultimately, although I went to law school, I see myself as an advocate in a broader sense, using not just the law but the legislative process and the media to advance issues of social justice.

I am the president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County (APABA). In addition to APABA, I have had leadership roles in both state and national bar associations, including former chair of the California State Bar’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, member of the State Bar’s Justice Gap Task Force, and former co-chair of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s (NAPABA) Pro Bono & Community Service Committee. I am a civil rights advocate.

What do you do?

Currently, I’m Vice-President of Programs at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), the nation’s largest Asian American civil rights organization.  My passion is working for greater social justice and ensuring that Asian Americans advance progressive ideas of justice.  I started at APALC directing the immigrant rights project, focused on issues affecting immigrants who were poor and spoke little English (e.g., ensuring access to health and welfare programs; advocating for language rights).  More recently, I have been very involved in advocating for marriage equality.  After a series of anti-gay protests by Chinese churches in SF and LA, I helped to found API Equality-LA, a coalition seeking to increase support for marriage equality and LGBTs among Asian Americans.  I believe that all social justice struggles require broad-based coalitions to succeed (e.g., allies supporting LGBTs, non-immigrants supporting immigrants).  None of our communities can win our battles alone.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American.  My parents taught me to be proud to be Taiwanese, and as a child growing up in the 1970s and 1980s Midwest, learning to understand and appreciate my Taiwanese roots gave me my first real sense of belonging and identity in an otherwise alienating place and time.  As Taiwanese immigrants who support Taiwan’s independence, my parents also instilled in me from an early age a strong sense of justice and fairness.  As a young adult, those early lessons helped influenced my choice to work in American civil rights and social justice.  So while I do not work specifically on Taiwanese issues, I credit my Taiwanese heritage with leading me to a career that I love and which is emotionally and intellectually fulfilling.

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

Taiwanese Americans are an amazingly talented group.  We have politicians, actors, musicians, writers, lawyers, judges, activists… not just the engineers and doctors that many of us grew up thinking we had to be.  We are also highly privileged — we’re mostly from middle or upper middle class families, went to good schools and colleges, have graduate degrees, have succeeded in our careers.  My hope is that we (particularly the 2nd and 3rd generation) leverage our collective talents for a greater good — not just supporting Taiwanese independence (which is important) but also domestic issues here in the U.S.  If we as Taiwanese really believe in the right to self-determination as well as fairness and justice, we should be supporting similar struggles in what is now the “homeland” for many of us, the U.S.  Native Americans and Hawaiians are struggling for sovereignity, undocumented immigrants are struggling against racial profiling and demonization, gays and lesbians are struggling for equal treatment.  I hope more Taiwanese Americans will step up and step out in the larger American society and be leaders in politics and social issues.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I work at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles, CA — a really kick-butt social justice and civil rights group working for not just Asian Americans, but other communities of color. Visit us at www.apalc.org or on Facebook!

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Dmae Roberts – Writer and Media Artist

Portland, OR

Taiwan has accomplished so much despite a history of occupation and without recognition by the United Nations or the World Health Organization.

roberts.dmae1Who are you?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, the daughter of an American serviceman from Oklahoma and Taiwanese World War Two survivor who was sold to work as a bonded servant when she was two. My family lived in Taiwan and Japan till I was eight, and we travelled around before settling in rural Oregon town where we were the only interracial family. The isolation and discrimination my family endured inspired me to become a writer and artist to make sense of the world and my racial identity. I’ve traveled throughout Asia and Europe, but still call Oregon my home. I live in Portland with my husband and twin Tabby kitties. My younger brother is the only surviving member of my immediate family though we’ve got relatives in Taiwan we recently met. I’m very involved in the arts community in Portland and believe in the power of creativity to bring peoples together.

What do you do?

I’ve dedicated the last 25 years to public radio producing documentaries and features about arts and multicultural issues that have aired on NPR programs. My radio work has garnered two Peabody awards: The first for “Mei Mei, A Daughter’s Song” a harrowing account of her mother’s childhood in Taiwan during WWII and the second for “Crossing East” an eight-hour documentary series about Asian American history, the first on public radio. I received the Asian American Journalists Association recognized me for Dr. Suzanne Ahn award for civil rights and social justice. I’ve been honored with a United States Artist (USA) award. I’ve also worked in theatre as an actor/playwright. My play “Picasso In The Back Seat” won the Oregon Book Award. I’m currently working on my memoir  “Lady Buddha and the Temple of Ma” about my mom, our complex relationship and my time as her caregiver during her fight with breast cancer.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a first generation Taiwanese American, I’ve often explained Taiwan to people who still confuse it with Thailand. I’ve felt ambivalence identifying as Taiwanese rather than Asian or Multiracial Asian. Adding Taiwanese to my mixtures offered too much complexity for normal conversations. Yet I feel a kinship with this small island that has some of the most hardworking people I’ve met. Taiwan has accomplished so much despite a history of occupation and without recognition by the United Nations or the World Health Organization. Taiwan has endured and adapted and is a tremendous testament to the work ethic. I feel pride in this Taiwanese spirit through my mom’s strength and industriousness. She survived war and poverty to come to America and worked hard at a plywood mill to help support our family. By the time she retired, she owned three properties, something she was proud of till the day she died.

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

I would like to see Taiwan Americans and Taiwan receive greater recognition. The recent “Write in Taiwanese” campaign was inspiring. I’d like to see TV, film and radio programs in popular media dedicated to Taiwanese content. I’ve been writing a lot about Taiwan lately for my memoir and some of the memories I have shared shows how new this country still is to the vast American audience. I’m hoping with greater awareness in America, Taiwan won’t face occupation again and be recognized as the phenomenal independent country it is.

Any additional information you would like to share?

For more about my work go to my site… http://dmaeroberts.com

A lot of my memories of Taiwan are associated with foods I haven’t seen anywhere else in Asia or America. As a five-year-old, I remember loving hard boiled eggs simmering in a wonderful spicy soy sauce. When I went as a 20 year old, my ears perked up when the man yelling “bazan” would cry out to sell steamed sweet rice with little bits of peanuts and shrimp wrapped in banana leaves. When my mom and I went to Taiwan together we’d buy giant papaya and star fruit for breakfast every morning and dine on fresh produce and dozens of varieties of tofu products I haven’t seen in America —ever. I even love stinky tofu and thousand year old egg —yum!

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Jerry Ma – Graphic Artist

New York, NY

I hope to inspire others to not be afraid to pursue their dreams…

ma.jerry1Who are you?

I’m the founder of Epic Proportions, which is responsible for indie comics like BURN and SpaceRanger, as well as a new line of T-shirts. I am also the art director of Secret Identities, the Asian American Superhero Anthology.

What do you do?

I try to convey stories through the images I create whether it is on a T-shirt or on a blank piece of paper. I hope to inspire others to not be afraid to pursue their dreams, and that through hard work, they give themselves the best chance to do so.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a 2nd gen Taiwanese American.  I am proud to be of Taiwanese heritage for the simple fact that I don’t think there is any reason for me not to be. We are our own people with our own voice, and I have been so happy recently to see so many others letting people know that we are here and we count.

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

Just recently from the Census, it was startling to me how many Taiwanese Americans wanted to be heard, and it made me feel so proud to be Taiwanese American. So I would say our future has never looked so bright.  After attending my first Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) conference just a month or so ago, it made me realize that we do have a strong presence. There are so many talented and dedicated Taiwanese Americans, and there is a strong sense of family. This bond will only help us be heard more in the near future.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I think TaiwaneseAmerican.org is a great site.

My favorite Taiwanese food would be all of it. It is the best cuisine in the world. Just check how much weight I gain every time I go back.

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Jonathan Lee – Student and Community Organizer

Chicago, IL

The future of Taiwanese America is at a turning point.

lee.jonathan1Who are you?

New Jersey has been my home for most of my life and thus is dear to my heart. Like the stereotypical Asian kid, I was dorky and “smart” throughout my years in public school. Hence, I love science fiction, video gaming, and watching dark shows/movies. In college, I was active in the Asian American community, especially the Taiwanese American community. I was President of the Rutgers Taiwanese American Student Association for two years, hosted the first Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) Conference at Rutgers in 2005, volunteered as a counselor at the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF) summer conference for two summers, and served Taiwanese American Next Generation (TANG) summer camp in a number of capacities as my longest commitment.  Professionally, I worked in a major financial services essentially being big brother, which is probably ironic considering my political beliefs. My passions may appear myopic, but I do care about other issues such as global warming, energy security, overfishing, and healthcare.

What do you do?

Growing up in proximity to NYC, I, like most people, thought finance was the route to wealth and happiness. But, after working for several years, I realized my personality and interests weren’t a good fit for Wall Street. Like so many things in my life, I needed a reason to believe in my work. So ironically, I’m back at business school. Go figure right? Honestly, I think it’s my second chance to find out what truly interests me. So far gaming and clean energy have caught my eye. Yes I know they are two very different fields. But one I believe not only challenges the U.S., but also the world as a whole. And the other, is an addiction I can’t seem to kick. So being the shameless B-school student, if you know any job opportunities, let me know.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

One fateful day, some coworkers drew missiles hitting Taiwan on a whiteboard. Before then, I wasn’t passionate. Like many I thought it was easier and less stressful to say I’m Chinese. From that day on, the Taiwanese part of my identity was born. I rigorously researched the history, listened to stories of the 1st generation, participated in Formosa Foundation, and joined the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA). What resonated with me the most was the Taiwanese will to survive. After being conquered and assimilated several times, the people were still able to keep that will of fire and sacrificed much for one of the most peaceful political transitions from authoritarian rule to a democracy in history. I go to Taiwan as often as I can, and I cannot believe how such a small island could have come so far. How such a small island could give birth to so many diverse and accomplished people.

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

The future of Taiwanese America is at a turning point. Many of the 2nd generation feel no ties to Taiwan, and naturally identify more strongly or completely with America. Many more fear the political baggage tied with being Taiwanese. Others would rather solely identify with being Asian American. Immigration from Taiwan is low and the Taiwanese American community and the immigrants in many cases do not want to integrate. Thus, we can see the sharp drop in community participation after the 1st generation. For many different reasons, there is a disproportionate interest from the 1st to the 2nd generation in maintaining a community.  I wonder though what makes our community so evanescent compared to the other immigration groups? Don’t they face the same challenges? Is it because there isn’t a strong Taiwanese identity that brings us together? I personally think there is, or at least stronger than we think. My hope is the 2nd generation will one day realize that as proven in Taiwanese history, our language and culture may change, but our historic strength as a people to persevere complements our current identities and hopefully we will want our children to have it too through a community. Else, I fear the Taiwanese American community will end up as a foot-note in an anthropologist’s thesis paper.


Yu-kai Chou – Entrepreneur and Power Coach

Mountain View, CA

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My 3 life goals are: create a new company that starts a new industry; make a positive global impact; and make everyone around me successful.

chou.yukai2Who are you?

I am a serial entrepreneur and a power coach. Being the child of a diplomat from Taiwan, I moved to the states when I was 13. I lived in Kansas for four years and then moved to California, graduating UCLA with a degree in International Economics within 3 years. I started my first company when I was 18 and have then started five more. Currently, I am the founder of Viralogy, Inc and also do a lot of career and life coaching. My 3 life goals are: create a new company that starts a new industry; make a positive global impact; and make everyone around me successful.

What do you do?

I am the Founder and CEO of Viralogy, Inc. We initiated as a social media rank, gathering up to close to a hundred thousand unique visitors a month in traffic. We later then involved in a recommendation engine company, building tools to help e-commerce sites increase onsite conversions. I also advise many companies on their social media and web marketing strategies. Previous to that, I created a social network that Mashable.com rated as one of the Top 10 Social Networks for Gen-Ys. I also try to coach as many people as possible towards their life goals since that helps furthers my own 3rd goal.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am proud of my Taiwanese heritage because I believe we are one of the most resourceful and balanced cultures out there. Taiwan is but a mere small island, but we have made it a nation that is recognized by everyone in this world and has truly made a big impact. When I talk to foreigners who travel a lot in Asia, they say that the Taiwanese people have the best balance between being personal while being polite. Also, like it or not, the Taiwanese have preserved more of the 5000 years of rich Chinese culture than China has (after they took everything out with the cultural revolution). I am proud to be a Taiwanese in every single way.

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Alvina Ling – Children’s Book Editor

New York, NY

I also love just living life and having as many experiences as I can. I believe in possibilities (or as I call them, “bloomabilities”–a word I’ve adopted from one of my favorite children’s books).

ling.alvina1Who are you?

I’m a second generation Taiwanese American woman in her mid-thirties. I currently live and work in New York City, but I’ve also lived in Atlanta (although just for the first 9 months of my life!); in PA near Pittsburgh; Edison, NJ; upstate NY; Southern CA; the Bay Area; Taipei, Taiwan; and Boston. I’m a children’s book editor and I love my job. I also consider myself a loving daughter, sister (to an older and younger brother), and friend. I love traveling and having adventures, and I especially love to eat all kinds of food (including Taiwanese, of course!)

What do you do?

For my career, I am a children’s book editor for Little, Brown and Company. I acquire and edit books for all ages, from board books to picture books, Middle Grade novels, young adult novels, and a little bit of nonfiction thrown in. I am passionate about publishing books featuring underrepresented characters (including Taiwanese). One of my recently edited books, WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, by Taiwanese American author Grace Lin, won the Newbery Honor.

I also love just living life and having as many experiences as I can. I believe in possibilities (or as I call them, “bloomabilities”–a word I’ve adopted from one of my favorite children’s books).

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a 2nd-generation Taiwanese American, I am proud that my parents had the strength and courage to come to a new country not knowing the language or culture. More than being proud of my Taiwanese heritage, I am proud to be my parents’ daughter. Fu-Wen (Evan) and Elena Ling have always encouraged and supported me, even in the nontraditional career I’ve chosen. I’ve always admired their partnership in their marriage –I think their relationship was ahead of their time, and I appreciate that my father was an equal partner in both his marriage and in raising us kids. I’m also proud of Taiwan’s rich history and culture, amazed that they could go from martial law to a full democracy in so little time. And, of course, I love the food!

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

My dream of the future of Taiwanese America is that every American will know the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese (and Also Taiwanese and Thai!). I would love more Taiwanese cuisine to become mainstream, just as bubble tea has achieved.

Any additional information you would like to share?

My favorite Taiwanese foods are bah-zang, oyster pancakes, and the breakfast of hot soy milk and savory doughnuts. Yum.

Feel free to visit my blogs www.bloomabilities.blogspot.com or a group blog on children’s books I contribute to every Monday: www.bluerosegirls.blogspot.com. I’m also on Twitter: @planetalvina.

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Hilda Lin – Journalist

Hacienda Hts, CA

I dream one day when people mention Taiwanese, they will relate it to all the good qualities a human being could have – like courage, kindness, fairness, honesty, creativity, confidence…

lin.hilda1Who are you?

I was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States in 1973 to study Library Science. I am actively involved in Taiwanese American Community running the Pacific Times weekly Mandarin-language newspaper for the Taiwanese American community and serving as a mentor for the Taiwanese American Citizens League Journalism Internship Program.

What do you do?

I have two jobs: I am a medical billing representative and a journalist. They keep me busy.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

As a first generation immigrant, I have to be proud of my Taiwanese heritage because it is the only heritage I was born with and live with. I have never thought why there should be a reason for me to be proud of my own heritage. It is the only thing I know.

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

I dream one day when people mention Taiwanese, they will relate it to all the good qualities a human being could have – like courage, kindness, fairness, honesty, creativity, confidence, etc. I dream that all of our offspring will loudly, proudly, and clearly call themselves Taiwanese American, and nothing else.

Any additional information you would like to share?

To learn more about the TACL Journalism Internship Program, visit: http://tacl.org/classic/programs/journalism/