UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
I understood the challenges of being a minority. Being the only girl with black hair and who carried dumplings for lunch, I went through the difficulties of finding balance.
I’m going to be a freshman at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In high school people call me Chenglo, my last name that rings as “Chain hang low”. Whatever my nickname is, I’ve grown to appreciate my roots of being an American born Taiwanese. Born in New Jersey in 1992 and raised in California, I understood the challenges of being a minority. Being the only girl with black hair and who carried dumplings for lunch, I went through the difficulties of finding balance. Eventually I learned English, and found the beauty of expression. I took up choir at a young age, and volunteered to do singspiration at church. Art also became another hobby that took up much of my time. I enrolled in AP Art in high school, allowing me to branch my expertise in drawing. Soon I opened up art galleries and showcases at my church. Aside from drawing, I love collecting seashells and enjoy long beach walks. Seahorses are my favorite, tiffany’s blue is my color, and sushi never gets old. I enjoy swimming and cooking cupcakes. Sometimes I’m mistaken as a feminist, but I just believe that we must be heard.
Tell us about your organization / project, your role, and its impact?
Since I’m part of the first graduating class of my high school, I got many opportunities to be a leader. Making traditions was something I relished doing. I became president for my “Stand Up to Cancer” club that raised money for cancer organizations. My motive was to test my ability to be a role model. Although I didn’t gather a stable group of members, I gave it a shot. I learned that even a little goes a long way. I’m also a member of SOLD project, an organization that educates people about sex trafficking in third world countries. Sometimes I believe that we need to be followers to become successful leaders. I’ve joined volunteer clubs and camps that deepened my morals. I’ve been a dedicated member of TAYL (now known as TACL-LYF), a camp that taught me to not be ashamed of being Asian, but instead embrace the beauty of having a culture embedded in my blood. I’ve transitioned from being embarrassed about my heritage to becoming a Taiwanese American glistening with pride. Part of feeling “different” gave me that kick to find a new me.
Where do you find your inspiration and motivation as a student leader?
I find it in my father, a man who has guided and supported me. At a young age my dad was a firm believer in having a voice in politics, especially Taiwanese poltics.
I get it from my peers, people who succeeded in showing me that you can’t wait for something to get better. I’d like to say thanks to my friend D who reminds me that it’s my fault if I’m not happy with the outcome, and I’m the one who should fix it.
Mother earth and Children who look up to me.
What is your vision for the organization / project and the role that it may play in the broader community?
I want teenagers and future generations to have a dream. My grandma constantly asks me what my dream is, and still today I don’t really know. Then it occured to me that children of today forget to have dreams and goals for a better future. Instead we rely to much on technology. Imagination thrives in a shorter time frame.
Therefore my dream is to find my dream. I want a eco-friendly environment as well as a generation full of intellectual thinkers and freelance artists!
Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?
I’m the second generation who likes stinky tofu and bah-zhang. Being an American to me doesn’t define me, but being Taiwanese gives me more of a definition of who I am. My ancestors came from Formosa, a beautiful island that held its own history, one very different from America. Since America is an amalgamation of different cultures, finding yourself gets lost. Being Taiwanese allowed me to realize that culture crafts a person.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
Politically speaking Taiwan isn’t doing as well as I would’ve hoped for. I want Independence for Taiwan, because becoming part of the UN can be an uplifting boost. To me China and Taiwan are culturally different. I understand that some of our ancestors came from China, but Taiwan is one island with it’s own story to tell, not China’s.