Wells Ling – Graduate Student and VP of the Taiwanese Student Association at St Louis University

St. Louis University, Saint Louis, MO

I hope that one day, all Taiwanese Americans are knowledgeable about their culture, heritage, and mostly their language.  I want us to be proud of where we have come from and to respect the sacrifices our family made for us to get here.

Who are you?

I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri with a brief two year stop at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to get my B.S. in psychology. I am a second generation Taiwanese American and a current graduate student in developmental psychology at Saint Louis University. My research focus is on Asian Americans and ethnic identity development. I am also vice president of the Taiwanese Student Association here at Saint Louis University.

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

My interest in Asian Americans and identity development is rooted in my own development as a Taiwanese American and the way I came to this identity. I was always curious to know if others came to their identity the same way I did or if they took different routes and how well that route worked for them. I hope to explain the factors that encourage ethnic identity exploration and through this I plan to help other Asian Americans develop an appreciation of their native culture and to provide them with the resources and encouragement to help develop their ethnic identity. I am currently working on three studies that will look at the effects of parenting styles on a child’s interest in exploring their ethnic identity. Another is exploring the way in which different variations of encountered racism affects one’s interest in exploring one’s ethnic identity. My last study examines the role of generational distance (first generation or fifth generation) of Asian Americans on interest in exploring ethnic identity. As vice president of the Taiwanese Student Association, I work with a great group of international students as well as American born Taiwanese students at the University. We provide a valuable resource for the international students by helping them ease their longing for home and getting them comfortable for a new life in the United States. For the Taiwanese Americans, we provide cultural events that are both informative and fun. We also provide a forum for Taiwanese Americans and international students to discuss issues and interests regarding Taiwan and the world.

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

My motivation as a leader really comes from several places: the Taiwanese people at this school, the Taiwanese Americans all over the United States I could potentially help with my research, and lastly myself. I feel that a good amount of motivation to serve on board of TSA and to do research regarding Asian Americans, comes from myself and my past experiences. Growing up in a Midwestern town, I did not have a lot of resources to learn about my culture. This experience motivates me to provide the Taiwanese Americans that I encounter the best possible chance to successfully explore their ethnic identity if they choose. My advice to student leaders is to have both your own goals and aspirations and to work together on events and issues that the members of your association find entertaining and fun. I think the whole point of being a part of a Taiwanese group is to celebrate our common heritage. Your own goals and aspirations provide a direction for your association or club to go towards while listening to your club’s members allows them to feel included, giving them a sense of belonging and pride.

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

I would love to once and for all figure out what promotes interest in ethnic identity. My hope is that with this information, I can help develop a new generation of proud Taiwanese Americans who are culturally knowledgeable and who are happy with their identity. I hope that my research will make me prominent within my field and that I can use my stature to promote ethnic studies even further.

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

Taiwanese America to me is a place where people recognize that we as Taiwanese are unique. That what applies to China and the rest of Asia affects us differently. I also hope that we as a group can educate others on what it means to be Taiwanese and that there is so much more to Taiwan than factories that build cheap toys for McDonald’s. I hope that one day, all Taiwanese Americans are knowledgeable about their culture, heritage, and mostly their language.  I want us to be proud of where we have come from and to respect the sacrifices our family made for us to get here. I hope that we as a group can come together and give a voice where we are heard and taken seriously.

Any additional information you would like to share?

As I have stated before, I am currently conducting research about ethnic identity development in Asian Americans (not just Taiwanese).  My current research is focused on Asian Americans from 18-25 years of age, but future studies may require other age ranges. If you are interested in helping to further our knowledge of identity development in any of these studies or any future studies, please e-mail me at [email protected] I hope to develop a data base of interested Asian Americans. If you know of anyone else willing to participate please pass along the e-mail address.

2 Responses to “Wells Ling – Graduate Student and VP of the Taiwanese Student Association at St Louis University”

  1. Greetings from MO.

    I also am interested in Taiwan and learning more traditional Mandarin. rsvp and Thank You.

  2. Hello John,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. But I’d love to chat with you. Shoot me an e-mail (listed above) and we can talk.

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