Eryn Hong – Director of Kopitonez A Cappella

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

We need others to hear our voices, whether we’re singers or not. Like so many of the Taiwanese American leaders who have already paved the way, we need to speak up and promote our unique identity.

Who are you?

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology, and minoring in Applied Statistics. The odd spelling of my name actually came from an episode of Jeopardy (what can I say? My dad hoped the connection would boost my IQ). Because I was born and raised in Michigan, I’m used to the mind-numbingly cold winters, and sometimes if I’m feeling crazy enough, I even wear flip flops when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. Although I was born in the states, I get a deep feeling of homesickness whenever I leave Taiwan, and thus visit as often as possible. My passions are family, friends, dogs, and music; I believe that as long as I have those four things in my life, everything else will fall into place. In my spare time, I like to write music, bake cheesecakes, and play with my dog, Cherry.

Comparable to Willy Wonka’s Gobstoppers, my ebullience is everlasting. I may not know how to charm a boy with my nonsensical idiom explanations, animated facial expressions, or unbelievably lame jokes, but I have the uncanny ability to whip out silly mnemonics that will unexpectedly be etched into your brain in a split second. Known to my friends as a nickname-inventing, compulsive email-checking, hug-attacking, dish-washing, over-analyzing narcoleptic, I’m really just a fun-loving ball of… fun… at heart.

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

I devote most of my extracurricular time to Kopitonez, the premier and only Asian-interest a cappella group at the University of Michigan. We sing songs in a variety of languages including but not limited to English, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Korean. The goal of our group is not only to share our craft, but to also spread multicultural awareness across campus and in the community. I started out as a general member because I had spontaneously auditioned after overcoming my stage fright (shoutout to Taiwanese American Foundation Juniors Program for letting me lead choir and swing choir!) and complete lack of singing experience. Over the course of one year, I arranged songs, planned our fall concert, and eventually ran for the position of Director. As such, my duties include serving a supervisory role over members of the group, representing Kopitonez to outside parties, and most importantly, facilitating a harmonious relationship between all members.

Besides Kopitonez, I am also a Walker Conference Co-chair for the Undergraduate Political Science Association. UPSA is a non-partisan organization that works directly with the Political Science Department. Our main goal is to promote a better understanding of politics and political issues across campus. The Walker Conference is our organization’s biggest event, held every spring, which has recently been revived over the past couple of years. We bring in politicians, professionals, and academics to speak about issues the field has faced and continues to face. As a co-chair, my job entails providing peer academic advising to my fellow students, organizing the event with a carefully chosen committee, and also coordinating numerous events for UPSA members throughout the year. My interest in political science actually stems from being Taiwanese American.

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

From my groups, of course! Without a group, I would not be a leader. Of course I have to come up with some ideas on my own and motivate myself, but what keeps me going is seeing the impact I have on others. They influence me as much as I hope to influence them. Leading is not about telling people what to do and barking orders; it’s about fostering open communication with people who are united by a common purpose.

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

For Kopitonez, I hope to share diversity through music. As our school’s only Asian-interest a cappella group, we have already set a precedent, and I only hope to bring a renewed sense of culture to campus.

For UPSA, I hope to bring together students who share my enthusiasm for political science. With a deeper insight, broader knowledge of past and present issues, we can bring about dynamic changes in the future.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

NIGHT MARKETS.

On a more serious note, I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. As I said earlier, although I was born in the states, I still feel this sense of “home” every time I go back to Taiwan. More than just physically being there, it’s about the people. I can go anywhere in the world, and still I will never find anyone like the Taiwanese people. No words can express the connection I feel when I’m around them. Asking me why I’m proud to be of Taiwanese heritage is like asking me why I’m proud to be my parents’ daughter, my grandparents’ granddaughter, so on and so forth. It’s who I am, and hearing stories of my family’s struggles only humbles me and inspires me to do all that I can for my “home.”

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

Well, I’m a musician, so my answer’s going to appeal to the sense of hearing. The future of Taiwanese America SOUNDS louder to me. We need others to hear our voices, whether we’re singers or not. Like so many of the Taiwanese American leaders who have already paved the way, we need to speak up and promote our unique identity.

Any additional information you would like to share?

http://youtube.com/user/kopitonez

bigbigbigbigBIG shoutout to TAF and Kopis for making me the leader I am. Love you guys!

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