Josephine Ho – Community Outreach Chair of UCI’s Taiwanese American Organization and ITASA’s West Coast District Chair

University of California, Irvine, CA

I am a second generation Taiwanese American, but I love Taiwan just as much as any first generation Taiwanese would.

Who are you?

I am a sophomore at UC Irvine double majoring in English and Political Science. Born and raised in Torrance, CA, I am a second generation Taiwanese American who was brought up in a very Taiwanese household. Although my parents never really instilled the Taiwanese identity in me, they pushed me to never forget my native language and culture by speaking to me in Mandarin, teaching me the culture and traditions, and taking me to Taiwan every other summer vacation. I’m passionate about the food and traveling to Taiwan as often as I can afford to do so, and I enjoy speaking in Mandarin to my friends and watching Taiwanese dramas to continue to familiarize myself with the language. In my spare time, I love shopping, eating, watching movies, playing the piano, playing with my dog, going to the beach, trying new things, and hanging out with friends in general.

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

I can honestly say that joining the Taiwanese American Organization (TAO) at UCI and taking on an active role in it has been one of the highlights of my college career so far. Working together with others of the same interest and Taiwanese American background has allowed me to pursue my passions of spreading appreciation of my heritage, as well as providing a friendly environment where people of the same background (or who wish to learn about this culture) can interact and create new friendships while being exposed to Taiwan’s current events, history, and overall culture. In addition, I am happy to be a part of something that builds strong community among Taiwanese Americans. Through TAO, I have practiced and learned the importance of teamwork, organization, and responsibility. Besides patience and thoroughness, I have discovered that good communication among the team members produces an excellent product. Without cooperative teamwork, any club becomes disjointed. Without TAO, my college experience would be severely lacking, and I would not have this tight group of friends I can call family. This year, I am the Community Outreach Chair of TAO UCI, and TAO is where I truly feel that I have found my identity and friends for life.

In addition to TAO, I am also glad to be a part of ITASA National Board and a 2010 TACL Political Intern at Assemblymember Warren Furutani’s office. In TAO, I may only be able to make an impact on students at UCI, but involving myself with ITASA and TACL has and will allow me to reach out to a greater range of fellow students.

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

I love the idea of influencing peers in a positive way. Knowing that I stand for something and that I have the tools and knowledge to pass on to others makes me feel as if my life is worthwhile. By immersing myself into being an active part of the Taiwanese American community, I have met countless amazing people who stand as leaders in the community, whether it be former ITASA conference directors, or activists in the political world. Having these people as my role models allows me to reflect on myself and determine how I can be more of a positive influence and, in turn, be a role model for other people.

Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?

I am a second generation Taiwanese American, but I love Taiwan just as much as any first generation Taiwanese would. Most of my relatives still live in Taiwan, and every time I visit the country, they always make me feel at home (plus, knowing the language fluently doesn’t hurt!) I love everything about Taiwan – from the food, nightlife, and shopping to the squatting toilets (okay, maybe the squatting toilets are an exception). No matter what, I am proud of how the Taiwanese American community is such a tight-knit group and so strong in its sense of identity.

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

There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is turn around and say, “Watch me.”

One day, TAO UCI will be the biggest, most successful organization on UCI campus. One day, at least five Taiwanese talents in the entertainment industry will win Oscars in one award sitting. One day, a Taiwanese woman will be sitting in Congress. One day, a Taiwanese doctor will find the cure to AIDS. One day, Taiwanese Americans everywhere can confidently assert their identity without fear of sparking controversy. One day, the entire world will know the deliciousness of Taiwanese food. One of these days…

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