Jennifer Chen – Former Co-President of Georgetown University’s Taiwanese American Student Association

Georgetown University, Washington, DC

I believe that change needs to originate from within. If I want to see something happen, I will have to be the one to make it happen; if students want others to be proactive, they will have to become proactive first themselves.

Who are you?

I was born in Taipei, raised in Rome and Bangkok, and am currently a senior majoring in international politics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. I am the former Co-President for Georgetown University’s Taiwanese American Student Association, as well as the Manager for the Hoyas in Greater China Internship Program. I take part in these activities because I want to share my passion for Taiwan with other people. I enjoy showcasing Taiwan’s unique traditions through cultural, social, and educational activities. During my free time, I like to hike, bake Oreo cookies, grow plants from eggshells and watch pandas sleep. In the future, I want travel the world and become a professional food critic.

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

Georgetown’s Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) is a student organization that aims to promote Taiwanese culture. I became part of TASA since its founding in 2008. We started from three to five core members and developed into a forty-member and growing organization. From 2008 to 2010, I hosted a speaker event to discuss cross-strait relations, held an ITASA leadership retreat for TASAs in the Mid-Atlantic region, fundraised for Typhoon Morakot, and many more. To help advance interest in Taiwan, we also founded the Hoyas in Greater China Internship Program, which offers Georgetown students opportunities work experience in a diverse array of industries in Taipei, Beijing and Shanghai. Its industries include law, government, finance and non-profit. Last year was our pilot year, and we successfully sent eight students abroad through our program.

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

I believe that change needs to originate from within. If I want to see something happen, I will have to be the one to make it happen; if students want others to be proactive, they will have to become proactive first themselves.

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

TASA has, and will continue to, reach out to those in DC, the US, and across the Pacific, to Taiwan. We have participated in Mid-Atlantic regional events, attended ITASA national conferences, and sent students interested in the Taiwan abroad to the island. Taiwanese students coming to the US also reach out to TASA for guidance. I see TASA as the center for resources and support for those who care about Taiwan and Taiwanese Americans.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

Taiwan is my home — not “home home” or “homeee,” but “home.” Though I lived in three different countries while growing up, whenever I long for a sense of coziness and security, I think of Taiwan. I am proud to be Taiwanese because we are those who fought relentlessly for a democratic system, underwent rapid economic growth that surprised the rest of the world, sang 手牽手 to help each other to stay close and strong in times of crises, and invented the best drink ever existed: bubble tea.

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

Taiwanese Americans are ACTIVE (amazing, creative, talented, inspiring, vibrant and enthusiastic). Our strong sense of community is what will continue to drive us in the future.

Any additional information you would like to share?

I like to eat blueberry crumble ice-cream while watching animal videos.

2 Responses to “Jennifer Chen – Former Co-President of Georgetown University’s Taiwanese American Student Association”

  1. David L Chen

    Hi, I am another Taiwanese American who is also a Christian. I currently attend Saddleback Church. Lately, I have been battling which takes more precedence in my life. Is it my Taiwanese heritage/identity or is it my Christian identity.

    Many that meet in Saddleback Church or other fellow christians who are of Taiwanese heritage call themselves Chinese, don’t care about Taiwanese identity…and think it all don’t matter because when Jesus comes back we are all God’s people. These people I meet are not wai-sheng-ren 外省人 either, but ben-sheng-Ren 本省人.

    What do you think?

    At my church, the majority of those from Taiwan, I suspect are wai-sheng-ren because they seem to greatly admire China…and feel a calling there for missions.

    Many I meet who are Christians from Taiwan both “Americanized” and fresh from Taiwan seem to disregard Taiwanese much in favor of Mandarin. They seem so far removed from Taiwanese language that the thought of a Taiwanese identity greatly perplexes them…in favor of Mandarin which is more practical and could gather more business clientelle.

    David L Chen

  2. Hey Jennifer!

    I am very interested in your story. I am also a Taiwanese who is raised in another country, and I am also very passionate about international relations and political science. My fondness for Georgetown is largely due to its strong international outlook and diverse study body. What kind of advantage and special program in Georgetown is especially beneficial and unique for people like us? Also what kind of international students are Georgetown most interested if you would like to share your opinion?

    Hope to see your reply!
    Teresa

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