Dignity, Belonging, and Meaning-Making in a Pandemic: What Learning Taiwanese Taught Me in a Season of Loss and Hate

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] FEATURE PHOTO PROVIDED BY AUTHOR[/caption] When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the East Coast last spring, I unexpectedly found myself at home for an extended stretch of time. For me, quarantining with family meant that daily walks with my dad and weekly drives to a local Taiwanese bakery became a natural time for me to learn more Taiwanese — something I had been trying to do on-and-off for quite some time. As weeks turned into months, my vocabulary…

Jennifer Co: 1993 – 1998

I am 21 and I am waiting. I wait for the university to spit me back out into the world, for the past four years to suddenly, and unabashedly, mean something. I wait and I watch friends and roommates and chosen strangers arrive upon the doorsteps to the rest of their lives: grad school admissions and gap years and start ups, sprinkled with full time offers from the companies spilling from my father’s news coverage sometimes, a marriage every now and then, a baby shower. I think of the palpable…

Emily Lo: A Growing Pair of Asian Eyes

First Grade  Pop. Click. Pop. Click. I opened and carefully sniffed all twenty-two of my Mr. Sketch markers, shoving caps onto untipped ends. Engaging in a ritual that preceded each and every session of my “builder’s workshop,” I faced my desk with anticipation.  Growing up, I periodically faced the most daunting task an elementary schooler could possibly imagine: finding a treasure to flaunt at show-and-tell. Perhaps, however, I was the only one intimidated by the need to present something…

Chewing on Home: Boba, Authenticity, and Identity

FEATURE PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUTHOR In 2019, Domino’s rolled out a limited-edition pizza in Taiwan topped with sweet tapioca balls and honey, drawing mixed reactions. While some adventurous foodies vowed to try it, others expressed complete and utter disgust. I fell more in the latter camp. How could Domino’s take a sweet and integral part of my childhood and sprinkle it on a cheese pizza? I rolled my eyes at what seemed to me a publicity stunt by an American corporation. But upon further…

Lithification, and Other Processes, by Dri Chiu Tattersfield

GRAND PRIZE WINNING ENTRY, COLLEGE CATEGORY “In this subtle and imaginative story, Dri Chiu Tattersfield explores questions of identity, family, foreignness and the body. The writing is nuanced and careful and emotionally grounded, evoking a sense of place and depth of feeling. This is an accomplished work by a promising voice.” -Shawna Yang Ryan and Charles Yu, co-judges of the 2021 Betty L. Yu & Jin C. Yu Creative Writing Prizes. The day my body started disappearing began with…

Taiwanese Americans: Help Report Anti-AAPI Discrimination

  Originally published March 2, 2020   I will clarify again that legitimate calls for CCP accountability are NOT at odds with real solutions addressing anti-Asian violence. As a #TaiwaneseAmerican passionate about the nuances of #AsianAmerica, I believe in discourse that is thoughtful enough to be specific. (LC 1/2) — Taiwanese American (@TaiwaneseAm_org) March 18, 2021 Taiwanese Americans, our responsibility here is two-fold: (1) You or someone you know may have been…

Remembrance & Resources: Learning About 228

By Joyce Chen & Leona Chen | 74 years have elapsed since the 1947 February 28 Massacre in Taiwan, when building resentment over inflation, constant military occupation, and police brutality culminated in an island-wide protest. When local Taiwanese leaders demanded administration reforms, free elections, and accountability for government corruption, the Chinese Nationalist army began a violent campaign to impose martial law, executing teachers, students, and commercial leaders. An estimated…

On Clubhouse, ‘臺kanda’: Taiwan’s Wakanda Fantasies

Are semiconductors Taiwan's vibranium? "Actually," offers one speaker, "it's the Taiwanese people's ethics and heart." Aw. There's a scene in the Marvel franchise where T'challa disrupts the meta-fiction of Wakanda's unremarkable, third-world pretense, grandly revealing their true nature in a gesture of humanitarian aid. That both Wakanda and Taiwan can be categorized as global fictions is sad. But, crucially, there is a difference between hiding and being ignored. [caption id="" align="alignnone"…

For a Better Life, Move to Taiwan: My Taiwanese American Story

When my mom was twenty, she moved from Taiwan to the United States. Now I’m twenty, and I’m doing everything I can to get back.  There are practical reasons for this, of course. I applied for dual citizenship in high school, and since coronavirus has pushed everything, including my college classes, into the virtual world, Taiwan has become my fabled “land of opportunity.”  But there’s something deeper going on. I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove my “Americanness,”…

Our Dad Invented the N95 Mask: Our Taiwanese American Story

Editor’s Note: Taiwanese American Peter Tsai has been in the news a lot lately as “the man behind the mask.”  “The retired inventor of N95 masks is back at work to fight Covid-19,” reads a Washington Post headline; “scientist-inventor a humble national hero,” another news agency chirps. But the depth and vibrance of Tsai’s living legacy is best known by his two daughters, who have not only borne witness to the N95 mask’s far-reaching impact during a global pandemic, but…