Coming from a very Taiwanese southern California town, being in the Midwest has helped me appreciate my Taiwanese roots and celebrate them with those around me.
I’m a sophomore at Northwestern University originally from southern California. I’m studying cognitive science and math methods in social sciences and considering pre-med because I’m still not sure of my career path. People at school call me a Taiwanese extremist because I’m constantly telling people about Taiwanese American issues and am overly involved in all things Taiwanese American. I was an executive board member of our Taiwanese American Students Club and a counselor for the Taiwanese American Citizens League Leadership Identity Development (TACL-LID) Camp, and will serve as co-director for the 2011 Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) Midwest Conference. But what really defines me is my passion for food. You can always find me eating food, thinking about food, relating all things in life through food metaphors, or generally obsessing about food.
What do you do?
I eat! Food is part of what makes life beautiful to me. Part of the picture includes exploring because you can’t eat good food unless you find it. So another of my pastimes is roaming about cities and small neighborhoods looking for delicious eateries. Another one of my main activities is preaching the “Taiwanese gospel.” I’m certainly not comparing Taiwan to Jesus, but I believe that Taiwan’s cultural, historical and political motley is a story that should be heard by as many as possible. I let others know that I am Taiwanese American and bring up relevant talking points, probably more often than I should. That’s probably why people label me as being really Taiwanese, and I honestly just can’t help it.
Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?
As a 2nd generation Taiwanese American, I was taught to call myself “Taiwanese” and was raised with the Taiwanese language. While I was trained from birth to be proud of my heritage, I’m also proud because Taiwan is like an underdog you can’t help but cheer for. Taiwan is such a small island, but it’s replete with amazing natural resources, good-hearted intelligent people and of course, delicious food. Like an underdog, Taiwan has shown courage in the face of great danger. To make up for its size, Taiwan has maintained a strong and independent-minded stance. Even outside of the island, Taiwan is inspiring. It’s amazing seeing so many successful individuals and ideas that sprung from Taiwan spread throughout the world. I’m especially proud of the community that the Taiwanese has formed in America. With such a strong tight-knit network, I can count on this community for guidance or just fun times. I think a change in the environment has also promoted my Taiwanese American pride. Coming from a very Taiwanese southern California town, being in the Midwest has helped me appreciate my Taiwanese roots and celebrate them with those around me. In my heart and in my mind, I am proud to call myself Taiwanese.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
I dream of a Taiwanese America where everyone is aware of their heritage. Everyone has a different story, from their roots in China or Taiwan to their journey to America. But many aren’t aware of just how rich their background is. Sometimes, parents don’t want to talk about their past. Other times, people just aren’t interested or don’t even want to be affiliated with the Taiwanese community. But I’m sure that if people simply realized how interesting and amazing their stories were, they would be more prone to celebrate their heritage. In fact, this doesn’t apply to just Taiwanese Americans. Most everyone in America has some story of where they came from and how it influences them today. America is a place to celebrate different cultures, and Taiwanese Americans should help lead the way.
Any additional information you would like to share?
I miss manto + soymilk from Taiwan’s 7-11!