Adventurer. Sustainability Advocate. Podcaster.
Being Taiwanese American is just one facet of who I am, but it is also a core part of who I am. I host Taiwanese Diaspora, an interview-based podcast amplifying TaiwaneseX voices through bilingual storytelling and connecting communities across the generations and around the world (讓台灣的華僑跟華裔分享各人的故事和經驗). Trained in engineering, I am drawn to systems issues that intersect policy, technology, and business. I am a sustainability professional leveraging my diversity of experiences across functions and industries to tackle climate change. A long-time East Coaster with a dash of wanderlust, I thrive on outdoor endurance sports, travel adventures, and opportunities that take me abroad.
How does being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American and/or community ally play a role in your life?
I grew up in a socioeconomically diverse neighborhood and my friends from school reflected that. I often clashed with my parents and their “traditional values” over what I thought were normal American childhood experiences, which my parents weren’t keen on, like sleepovers, nail polish, ear piercing, school dances, sports, hanging out, and dating. I like to think that maybe I paved the way for my sister to have a more normalized social experience and to be less sheltered.
My parents built a strong community with first-generation Taiwanese immigrants, so I grew up with aunties, uncles, teachers, and other influential figures who played key roles in my life. Through dinner parties, holiday celebrations, various 同鄉會 gatherings, mandatory Chinese school, and other activities, I was immersed in our heritage languages (Mandarin, Hakka and Taiwanese, though I am only fluent in one), food, and cultural values and traditions. My parents drilled into me and my sister that because we’re Taiwanese, we needed to not only appreciate the language and culture, but to embody it.
In college and early adulthood, I didn’t think much or do much in the Taiwanese community in the US. I was occupied with finding my career calling, moving around the world, going on climbing trips and running races. I found ways to visit Taiwan on my own — those were very memorable trips because I made friends with other Taiwanese-heritage 華裔 who grew up in Singapore, New Zealand, Argentina, other parts of the US. It wasn’t until a few years ago while dealing with some personal, relationship, and professional challenges that began to reconnect with my Taiwanese heritage. I found myself on a path that wasn’t serving me anymore, yet I was afraid to make the necessary changes. I enrolled in therapy to start untangling the webs of emotions, and found creative projects to turn inward, reacquainting myself with my culture, heritage, and identity. I learned how to tune into my needs and learned how to feel confident about pivoting from what I had envisioned. Starting Taiwanese Diaspora is part of my journey to finding my authentic voice, and I hope we continue to build connections around the world and take up space in each of the communities we serve (Taiwanese or not)!
If you could teach future generations 1 thing about being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American or Taiwan, what would it be?
Two Asian cultural norms that I challenge are: taking care of others’ needs first and striving to meet external expectations. My advice to others is to nurture a healthy relationship with your gut (your instincts) so that you develop a strong sense of self and can define your own path. Build a diverse toolkit of techniques you can lean on when you’re in a mental, emotional or physical funk. Don’t just rely on one activity or one thing; have the toolset before you need it, so that it’s already part of your routine when you need to call on it. You may at some point lose yourself in an environment or relationship that isn’t serving you. Staying doesn’t make you stronger, it just sucks up energy that can be directed towards other things. Know when to walk away — rest, quit, or pivot — it’s ok! Setting aside your own needs for too long can be detrimental to your health, so prioritize your self-care first so you can let your full potential shine and be in a better position to support others!
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
Collectively, I hope we continue using our voice, our vote, our purchasing power, our skills and talents to make positive changes in the world. We can be proud Taiwanese Americans and also be loud changemakers in issues outside our bubble: sustainability, social justice, environment and climate change justice, and more. We need to make selective consumer choices, help our workplaces/businesses own the responsibility of doing the right thing (and not just for the bottom line), elect officials and policymakers who can make a difference through policy and partnerships, and support and volunteer with nonprofits in our communities.
Personally, I would also love to have more 同鄉會 and dinner parties integrated into my life, and would love to take up dragon boat racing and 名族舞蹈 (Chinese folk dance) again.
Favorite memory of Taiwan/Taiwanese America?
Spending time with extended family in Beitou: daring each other to walk across the reflexology stone path after swimming at 復興公園.
Favorite Taiwanese food?