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.

ou.edwin2

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