Sophia Jih – Co-Executive Director of ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

My dream is that we’ll be able to draw inspiration from each other and build on the work that we’ve been doing to make Taiwanese Americans a prominent group in the United States.

Who are you?

I am a junior at Princeton University in New Jersey but I grew up in Troy, Michigan. I’m majoring in biology but also taking coursework in public policy and law. I’m interested in the effects of disease on human development, and the best way to implement health aid programs. While both my younger sister and I were born in the United States, my dad is from Taipei and my mom is from Kaohsiung. I grew up attending Chinese school, having rice for dinner every day, and watching Huan Zhu Ge Ge on the TV. My hobbies are writing, messing with photos on Adobe Photoshop, eating food late at night, and finding new indie bands to listen to.

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

This year, I have the honor of being one of the two executive directors for the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University. The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association (ITASA) is a non-profit organization that provides avenues for young Taiwanese Americans to interact with each other and with their communities. Every year, there are three ITASA conferences on the east coast, Midwest, and west coasts of the United States. Last year, Princeton won the bid to bring the east coast conference to our school in January 2011, and we are so excited to make this conference amazing. As one of the executive directors, I oversee the logistics that is involved in bringing hundreds of students to Princeton for a weekend, as well as reaching out to the Taiwanese American community for workshops and speakers. I believe the annual ITASA conferences are one of the fundamental ways Taiwanese American college students can meet one another, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.

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

This year’s ITASA conference will be the first in over a decade to be held at Princeton. After such a long time, I think it’s been hard to bring together the Taiwanese American community in the New Jersey area. My hope is that through the connections that we make in the surrounding area while we are planning and through the conference itself, the Princeton ITASA conference team can really make a difference in uniting students and community members to think about the Taiwanese American heritage.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I think what is the best, but sometimes most challenging, part of being a 2nd generation Taiwanese American is learning how to integrate the different cultures that you’ve been exposed to. Growing up in America, I’ve learned to appreciate what a different perspective the Taiwanese heritage gives me. I’ve also found that the times where I’ve been able to express who I am in the context of being Taiwanese American have been some of the best I’ve ever had.

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

At the risk of sounding corny, my vision of the future is one where Taiwanese Americans have the confidence to follow the motto we chose for this year’s ITASA conference: taking it to the top. My dream is that we’ll be able to draw inspiration from each other and build on the work that we’ve been doing to make Taiwanese Americans a prominent group in the United States.

Any additional information you would like to share?

Keep up with updates for the ITASA 2011 East Coast Conference at Princeton University with Twitter, Facebook, or our website (we’re still revamping our website, but please contact me if you have any interest in supporting the conference!):

http://twitter.com/ITASA2011

http://www.facebook.com/pages/ITASA-2011-East-Coast-Conference-Taking-it-to-the-Top/122262954466141

http://eastcoast.itasa.org/

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