FEATURE IMAGE: ITASA MIDWEST NATIONAL CONFERENCE
Seven years ago, my friend Jenny Wang and I graduated from Rutgers University and began our professional lives in New York City. However, we both missed our time back at TASA (Taiwanese American Students Association). Of course one part was the being part of “TASA fam,” but we also couldn’t let go of our passion for creating awareness of Taiwanese culture and community. After years in the Taiwanese and Taiwanese American community, we found our personal calling: both of us stood halfway between being Taiwanese and American, and we wanted to bridge these identities in meaningful ways We decided to create OFTaiwan (then named Outreach for Taiwan).
The vision of OFTaiwan is to help Taiwanese Americans learn more about Taiwan. Part of this mission is to help provide information for Taiwanese American organizations that go beyond just bubble tea and night markets. We knew we had to craft interesting and interactive workshops to really engage students. It just so happened that in 2013–the year we founded the organization—the Sunflower Movement erupted in Taiwan. While the movement itself fanned the passion of Taiwanese youth to defend Taiwan, it also planted a seed in Taiwanese Americans’ minds to learn more about the issues and history of Taiwan.
“What’s going on in Taiwan?” “Why is there a protest?” “What is the issue with Taiwan and China?”
These were the questions asked by our friends. These are the calls we have tried to answer.
Seven years later, OFTaiwan has evolved but remains true to our core, inaugural vision to educate the Taiwanese American community.
In 2019, I started working with Leona, editor-in-chief of TaiwaneseAmerican.org, and Chieh-Ting Yeh, co-founder of Ketagalan Media, to create a discussion-based curriculum for Taiwanese American organizations to implement so that their members could learn more about Taiwan through peer teaching. While creating this curriculum, which is still in the works, we realized that organizations have been innovating and branching out beyond the social and professional growth space. We are so inspired by the creative work of Taiwanese American student organizations, and wanted to create a grant that would not just support these events, but showcase them to the larger diasporic Taiwanese community.
We are happy to announce the OFTaiwan Award.
The OFTaiwan Award—co-sponsored by TaiwaneseAmerican.org and the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association (ITASA)—awards student organizations that host programming about Taiwanese heritage, culture, and identity. Recipient organizations will be selected based on their events’ and programs’ impact, content, and engagement with attendees.
It has been a dream for Jenny and me to help anyone in America learn more about Taiwan’s history and culture. For some, this journey starts from a personal investigation of identity; we hope that all see the importance of contextual and historical knowledge about Taiwan. We’re excited to see this dream manifest in a collaboration with TaiwaneseAmerican.org and ITASA to invest more in Taiwanese American student organizations.
Last but not least, we encourage you to reach out to us to ask questions, or even get advice on how to plan for your next Taiwanese American event!
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