Rachel Chang

Journalist. Writer/Editor. Traveler (and Reluctant Runner).

I’m pop culture and travel journalist and editor, writing for publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet, and Washington Post among others.

Growing up in San Jose, I never saw anyone who looked like me in mainstream media, so I set out to study communications at UCLA and worked in television, interning at Nickelodeon and “Dawson’s Creek,” before joining The WB Television Network’s publicity department during its heyday on shows like “7th Heaven,” “Gilmore Girls,” and “Roswell,” and “Smallville.”

While I loved being on the publicity side, shaping the narrative of the shows — and even had the opportunity to work on an Asian American press campaign — I realized I’d have more power to elicit change by switching to the other side. So I earned my masters degree in magazine, newspaper, and online journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and moved to the New York City area to pursue a magazine career.

For a decade, I was a teen entertainment magazine editor — associate editor at Popstar!, entertainment editor at CosmoGIRL! and then editor in chief at J-14 magazine, and followed that with four years as senior editor at Us Weekly. While the opportunities didn’t always present themselves in a world pre-Crazy Rich Asians, I sought to include Asian Americans as much as I could, but efforts were often met with resistance.

Oftentimes, covering entertainment stories would require traveling, and soon I became enthralled with travel writing as a powerful way to capture the cultural realities of our world. After two years in content marketing at Travelzoo, I finally grew my side passion project into a thriving freelance business, offering me the freedom to follow the stories and write and edit for any publication, letting the storytelling take center stage.


How does being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American and/or community ally play a role in your life?

Born in the U.S., I grew up simply wanting to blend in — and wishing my family could eat meals with forks and knives like the rest of my friends instead of with chopsticks (maybe this is why I guiltily don’t use chopsticks correctly!). I also found trips back to Taiwan to be such a drag as a kid.

But the more my relatives started to show me the rich undercurrents of the Taiwanese culture, I started to gain an appreciation not just for lifestyle, but the impressive influence a small island nation has had on global culture (I spent a summer in the early aughts taste testing my way too many boba shops). Now I proudly declare myself as a Taiwanese American, intent on sharing that slice of my life with others around the world when I travel.


If you could teach future generations 1 thing about being Taiwanese/Taiwanese American or Taiwan, what would it be?

Take the time to discover Taiwan on your own, away from your family ties. After the long journey there, our days often get filled visiting relatives and friends, but carve out some time to explore on your own, whether it’s getting lost on the MRT, eating your way through a local market, or getting out of Taipei proper and venturing out to Jiufen, Sun Moon Lake, or Alishan. Use the opportunity to find a Taiwanese experience that’s all your own.

But also find ways to connect with your ancestors, as so many traditions are waning away. Learn a dialect that allows you to converse with your elders in a way that’s meaningful.


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

When I travel, I find that non-Americans are far more educated and aware of Taiwan and its influence on the world. I’m hopeful that with communities like this — and a new rising generation with such a powerful voice — it will help amplify Taiwanese America and help unleash its potential in a way all Americans can recognize the value of.


Favorite memory of Taiwan/Taiwanese America?

Although I represented the United States at the TCS New York City Marathon Opening Ceremony twice, I loved running into the Taiwanese contingency there and bonding over our common culture. And I loved seeing the Taiwanese flag waving so proudly on the final stretch of the route.


Favorite Taiwanese food?

The stinky tofu from the Raohe Night Market, salty soy milk soup, and any kind of dumpling.

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