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.

ling.erica2

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