What ‘Bao’ and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Meant to Me

Traditional mama’s girls who need a support group, I am here for you. Contains tiny spoilers.  Anyone who's even vaguely heard of me knows that I'm a mama's girl. My life's work navigates a strange dichotomy between "hot pot of rice that don't need no side dish" and "most filial child #1." Like many of my Asian American friends, I am independent, opinionated, and strong-willed. But I have never believed that my life is wholly my own. So you understand why I might be frustrated by polarizing…

Passing on the Taiwanese Language: A Personal Account

I was born in the US and, like many second generation Taiwanese-Americans, I grew up speaking first Taiwanese (台語), and then English at home. I recall visiting Taiwan as a child and people finding it quite odd that my brother and I understood only Taiwanese—not Mandarin Chinese. Although my level of Taiwanese never reached beyond that of a kindergartner's, if I hear Taiwanese being spoken around me, I will always turn my head, unable to refrain from eavesdropping on the conversation. With…

Balancing the Trifecta: Growing up Taiwanese, Korean, and American

There are 27 picture frames on the wall next to our staircase, each chronicling flashes of the life I know. Pictures of my mom and dad on a vacation to Italy while they were dating, pictures of my brother and me in Mexico, pictures of my brother as a toddler in a pumpkin patch. Pictures of my grandpa’s 60th birthday party, of my parents playing golf with their friends, of my late grandfather with my cousins, of my brother and me sitting on a swing set in Korea. My parents immigrated to the…

Memories of my Yaba Great Aunt

by James Y. Shih When I was 3, my ahgong (grandpa) brought me to Taiwan from California to visit our old family home in the historic town of Lukang (鹿港). The home was and still is a narrow, two story, brick and wood building off the main road. There, my great aunt, whom I affectionately called “yaba,” lived with my ahma (grandma). At that age, I didn’t know calling her just yaba (啞吧), which means “deaf mute”, was rude (it is). I thought it was her name. Those early memories…

Finding Meaning in Taiwanese America: An Open Letter

  Editor Note: Gloria Hu is a High School Program Director at TANG (Taiwanese American Next Generation). TANG is a four-day summer conference for Taiwanese Americans and their allies. In contemplating meaningful programming and our engagement with issues of identity formation and community-building, the author expresses the importance of Taiwanese heritage to her own convictions and hopes for the community. A Letter to My TANG High Schoolers To my beloved TANG campers, I am so lucky…

All Quiet: An American in Taiwan’s Perspective on 228

By Joyce Chen, edited by Leona Chen Editor’s Note: American-born Taiwanese Joyce Chen is a first-year international student at National Taiwan University. On the 71st anniversary of 228, Taiwan is, she observes, harboring a strange ambivalence. This is not to ignore the indigenous protests for transitional justice or the demonstrations that did occur this year. In Taoyuan, a group of young pro-independence activists covered the tomb of Chiang Kai-Shek in red paint to symbolize the estimated…

Green Island Secrets

Journalism & Scholarship Force Us to Bear Witness to Taiwan's Darkest Era By Dr. Chung-Chih Li, edited by Leona Chen Editor’s Note: In 1981, Professor Chen Wen-Cheng (陳文成), assistant professor of mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University, was taken for interrogation by Taiwan’s secret police under allegations of sedition. Despite official reports of a friendly and cordial interview, he was found dead the next day at National Taiwan University.  Thirteen broken ribs. Three fractured…

My Writing Journey: Announcing the Publication of my First Novel, Travails of a Trailing Spouse [Part 5]

My name is Stephanie Chen and I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. Like many of my peers, I followed a prescribed path towards success: studied hard, got good grades, went to an Ivy League college. I studied finance and after graduation, started a job at a top-tier investment bank. I then joined an investment fund, where I eventually became a partner. However, if you had asked me when I was in the 6th grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said "a writer”. In early 2017,…

My Writing Journey: After the Phone Call [Part 4]

My name is Stephanie Chen and I am a 2nd generation Taiwanese American. Like many of my peers, I followed a prescribed path towards success: studied hard, got good grades, went to an Ivy League college. I studied finance and after graduation, started a job at a top-tier investment bank. I then joined an investment fund, where I eventually became a partner. However, if you had asked me when I was in the 6th grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said "a writer”. In early 2017,…

Five Ways I Understand my Parents Differently Since Becoming a Mom

By Evita Wong Reprinted with permission from her blog: Mom, Take One I’ve pretty much always been close with my mom and my dad. I never really went through a notable rebellious phase in my teen years, and my mom has always described my personality as a kid as “xi nai,” or “adorably affectionate” in Taiwanese (I may be adding the “adorably” part). So, of course, I’ve always known that they love my sister and me. But, since having Emmy and experiencing how my heart comes close…