Tag Archives: Taiwanese American

Taiwanese American cultural festival

May is winding down, and boy has it been a busy month. May is officially recognized as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Celebrations occur throughout California during the month including the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival, which is held annually in the Bay area. TACF is sponsored by Taiwanese American Professionals-San Francisco and Taiwanese American Foundation-No. California. This year, TACF featured a collection of nearly 50 works by authors, writers, poets, and creatives who are Taiwanese American or have ties to Taiwan, and guess what? My book, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity was one of the works featured! For the entire list of books showcased and brief descriptions of each book, visit Taiwaneseamerican.org.

Thank you, Ho Chie Tsai, for gathering this wonderful collection of books highlighting Taiwanese American storytellers. I wish that I could have attended the festival and seen the display in person as well as all of the other festivities. I’ve put several of the books on my to-read list.

If you’d like to purchase an autographed copy of my book, just follow this link.

Here are some photographs from the Taiwanese American Cultural Festival 2018!

Photo credit: Anna Wu Photography

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at the heart and soul of taiwanese america

Ho Chie Tsai

Ho Chie Tsai

Last January, I had the privilege of connecting with Ho Chie Tsai, founder of Taiwanese American.org who, without a doubt, is making a huge impact in a special community that is not often recognized. I met Ho Chie after he stumbled across my blog and contacted me just before I reunited with my birth family in Taiwan. He is chiefly responsible for welcoming me into the Taiwanese American community.

Ho Chie founded TaiwaneseAmerican.org in 2006, a website featuring many of the interesting people, events and organizations that make up Taiwanese America. He is passionate about connecting individuals and promoting those who identify with the Taiwanese identity, culture, and heritage. As a community leader, Ho Chie launched the first Taiwanese American Students Club at his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also a member of the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF) Board of Directors, a non-profit organization that hosts an annual summer conference for elementary and high school aged kids of Taiwanese descent. TAF is home away from home for many campers, alumni, and conference leaders who return year after year. I had the opportunity to experience part of the 2012 TAF conference as a speaker upon the invitation of Ho Chie, and I understood afterwards why so many return. The conference is more than just a “cultural camp.” It is a true community where character, leadership, identity, and genuine support of one another are nurtured. Recently, I caught up with Ho Chie and asked some questions about his role at TAF and his perspective on culture and identity. Read the full interview below and get to know Ho Chie, a man at the heart and soul of Taiwanese America. A big thank you to Ho Chie for taking the time to talk about TAF and what it means to be Taiwanese in America!

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a proud 2nd generation Taiwanese American on a mission to help young people discover their unique identities, explore personal passions, and realize their fullest potential. I am someone who believes that each of us has the power to make a lasting impact on the communities we care about and want to serve.

I am a frequent speaker at Taiwanese American and other Asian American conferences, and this opportunity to be an influential thought leader on various issues is something I don’t take for granted. In the Taiwanese American community, many know me as the founder of the website TaiwaneseAmerican.org, a portal site that highlights the amazing people, the numerous events, and the vibrant organizations that are relevant to our next generation. We see our mission as an important part of capturing and documenting the stories of our evolving community within the American historical context. Currently, TaiwaneseAmerican.org has the largest social media and web presence serving specifically the Taiwanese American community.

Professionally, I am a general pediatrician who lives and practices in and around the San Francisco Bay area. I do primarily urgent care and hospitalist work, and my schedule is flexible enough so that I can travel to various conferences and major events within the Taiwanese American community and work on projects for TaiwaneseAmerican.org. It’s almost as if I live two lives, but guided by a common personal mission.

How did you become involved with TAF?

Like many of the counselors, staff, and board members, I actually grew up with TAF, and because it impacted me in such a positive way, I continued to return year after year and assumed more responsibilities as I matured. Decades ago, I was a young high school student who attended because my parents “forced” me to go to this camp that they had heard of from their network of friends. Although I was resistant to the idea of attending an “Asian camp,” I quickly changed tunes once I discovered how open and welcoming the staff and other campers were. Connecting with so many other young Asian Americans helped me realize that the teenage issues I struggled with, through my experience of being Asian in America, was not mine alone. There was something comforting yet emboldening in understanding that my bi-cultural 2nd generation experience was, in fact, the common denominator for my fellow Taiwanese Americans.

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In retrospect, it is so clear to me now what kind of impact it made on my life. As well-adjusted as I seemed to appear on the outside, in reality, I was a teen still searching for my personal identity and stronger sense of confidence. The atmosphere at TAF emanated a certain unconditional love and acceptance, and it changed me practically overnight. Unbelievable? Well, talk to many of the attendees, and many will share similar stories of their own. As I would learn over time, this environment and my experiences were not accidental. In fact, the core belief of “servant leadership,” or lifting others up and serving first, is a philosophy that the leaders at TAF have intentionally put into practice for over three decades. Effectively, it translates into excellent role modeling, influential leadership, and the creation of one of the most accepting and supportive communities I have ever seen. TAF has shaped my own personal mission and approach to life.

What is your role at TAF?

As I grew with TAF, the leaders who surrounded me and nurtured my teenage soul showed me that I could make a difference for others, too. After taking on some Coordinator level responsibilities during my high school years, I eventually took on the role of Junior (grade school) Program Director and served for about 10 years. By the time I was a college student, I was also invited to serve as a Board Member for this non-profit organization and have remained in that capacity to the present day. When I became a pediatrician, I assumed the role of Camp Physician. I have also been an occasional workshop facilitator or program speaker. During the past decade, I have actually been quite content just taking a more supportive role and learning from some of the most inspiring and dynamic speakers who guide the current generation of TAF campers–many of those speakers were once young kids in my Junior Program. They and so many “TAFers” who have ventured out into the real world with a servant leadership mentality have made me so proud to continue serving TAF today in any way I can.

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How many campers attend?

Each year since 1980, the week-long Taiwanese American Foundation summer conference draws approximately 160-180 youth, most of Taiwanese heritage or experience, from across the United States. These campers between the ages of 7 to 18 attend one of the three full-week, overnight, parallel tracked programs: Junior, Junior High, or Youth (High School). An additional 45-50 college-level through young professional counselors, advisors, and staff support these programs.

What are the goals of TAF and how do the campers benefit?

The primary mission of TAF is “to foster personal growth and develop servant leaders in the Taiwanese American community for the benefit of society.”

This translates to programming and interactive sessions that help young people explore their unique identities at various stages of their personal growth through one of four rotating themes: Identity; Ethics & Values; Communication; and Servant Leadership. Through years of experience working on these real-life core topics, we have seen this camp produce generations of confident, caring, and fulfilled individuals who are well-adjusted to the often challenging world we live in. A majority of our leaders, staff and speakers grew up with the camp, much like I did. Although culture, history, and identity are important issues to us, the primary focus of the programs is personal identity and leadership development using an interpersonal and values-driven approach. The strengthening of the Taiwanese American identity follows naturally.

Over the years, we have gained expertise in dealing with a very broad age range of youth. Even kids as young as 7 years old who attend our Juniors Program have a great time learning from our talented counselors (many of whom are student teachers or have years of experience working with children) and do very well even when away from their parents for a full week. It’s a prime example of how our staff prepares the experience so that the kids just feel like they are lovingly accepted at this home-away-from-home starting on day one. As each program develops and “grows” their campers year after year, they understand their goal is to prepare the TAF camper for the next stage of camp. As the child moves from the Juniors Program to the Junior High Program and eventually on to the Youth (high school level) Program, we see that they gain more confidence and pride in their identity as well as a deeper understanding of their unique qualities and traits. By rotating through the four major themes in cyclic fashion, even a camper who has been at TAF for many years will be able to re-explore these issues further at deeper levels. Additionally, leadership roles as “coordinators” for various camp programs are offered to the high school level participants. Many begin to put actual servant leadership qualities and skills into practice, and that has a powerful influence on their peers and younger “sibs” in a positive and impactful way. And the icing on top of all this is that camp is all glued together by fun and entertaining activities. It is, after all, a summer camp experience.

We take great pride in our proven ability to help kids grow to their fullest potential and to know their greatest strengths. Our slogan, “growing people,” also suggests a more life-long mission in building up individuals and creating a community, a home, to nurture that process. TAF doesn’t end with youth programming; it’s the start of building family foundations and better relationships all throughout life. In fact, our weekend Parents Program brings together the youth and their parents in specially-designed sessions to help them better understand and appreciate each other’s perspectives. The impact is obvious and lasting: Take a look around, and one will find that many who have grown through our programs are now college students, young professionals, and even parents who return year after year to support our mission as counselors, staff, board members, speakers, volunteers, and financial sponsors. As we continue to grow, I have noticed that our programs now serve 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Asian Americans, including mixed-race children, adoptees, and children of previous campers. This is, I believe, a testament to our success in building a strong foundation in service of the Taiwanese American community for the benefit of the greater society we live in.


What does it mean for you to be Taiwanese American?

I think everyone’s personal journey through identity is different and unique, and recognizing that we own those differences can be empowering. Ask 10 people what it means to be Taiwanese American, and you’ll get 10 different answers. Some will answer from an ethnic or cultural heritage perspective, and others will offer a more political or historical-based response. In reality, the Taiwanese American identity is complex, and not everyone will agree on the answer. With that said, for me personally, I identify as a proud 2nd generation Taiwanese American who recognizes and accepts the diversity of experiences that have shaped our immigrant community. However, because I grew up in the Midwest during a time and place where cultural diversity was lacking, I see my Taiwanese American-ness through the lens of the broader Asian American experience. I can relate to the experiences of my fellow 2nd generation Filipino American, Korean American, and Vietnamese American friends more than I can with people who grew up in Taiwan. As Asian Americans, it is as if we walk a tight-rope between two cultures, and that is where our struggle with identity begins. Being a proud Taiwanese American means coming to terms and finding a comfortable balance with the internalized values that two (sometimes conflicting) cultures bring, and using that knowledge and experience to bridge gaps wherever they may be found. I am so fortunate that my experiences helped me to embrace my unique identity starting at a young age, and I take pride that I can help shape the next generation of young Americans of Taiwanese heritage. As we influence more servant leaders and build a strong community together, I believe that we as Taiwanese Americans have a responsibility in contributing to and enhancing a more inclusive multicultural American society.

Well said, Ho Chie! 

the way i are

During the first half of my life, I never thought of myself as anything other than being American. What I mean is, I always thought of myself as being white. My outward appearance, however, has never really fit the image of  what most people typically think of as a white person. DUH. I was raised by white parents in a mostly white neighborhood. In every way, I grew up to think “white,” to be white. What does this mean? It means I learned to be like everyone else around me. I tried very hard to minimize looking Asian (people in the South call it “Oriental,” but to set the record straight, Asian is the culturally correct term). Being white meant being privileged. In my mind, it was synonymous with superiority, a thought that makes me cringe now. I wanted blonde hair with blue eyes, a skinny nose, and about five inches more in height. When you wish for something that you’re not, it leads to some serious insecurity, discontent, and general unhappiness.

When I was very young, I didn’t recognize the significance of how different I looked from my parents or my peers. My adoptive parents didn’t talk about race or culture. They didn’t know how to. Up until a certain age, kids tend to be colorblind and less attuned to differentness. Somewhere between kindergarten and elementary school, they take notice of others who stick out for whatever reason. For the longest time, I didn’t get why certain kids picked on me– the racial gestures, like pulling up on the corners of the eyes, or the slurs, like “chink,” seemed so weird to me. I just thought kids were plain old mean and had no idea they were acting prejudiced towards me.

I was extremely sociophobic, shy to the max, which made things even worse. Speaking up to defend myself was not in my nature at the time. I was afraid of my own shadow. I quietly ignored negative encounters with others and went about my business. Internally, I felt inferior, invisible, a complex that stayed with me for a very long time. To this day, I’m still an introvert, but I feel much more comfortable stating my opinion, although it sometimes feels unnatural. I’ve always admired those with loud, boisterous personalities who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

What’s so ironic is that I was pretty spoiled growing up. My parents handed me things – I think that was their love language– giving gifts. You would think that this was a good thing. I was cared for physically and materially in a way I may never have been in my own birth country. Such is not the case. I didn’t learn to be very responsible until much later in my life because I always had someone there to take care of me. It had a crippling effect. When I graduated college, I bolted in pursuit of independence from my parents. I moved to Florida, then Los Angeles., but was still so naive. I’m amazed I didn’t get myself into more trouble than I did. Difficult times followed, but it was never like I was ever homeless, in harm’s way or hungry (although I did eat a lot of cereal for dinner-Corn Chex was my favourite).  It was the psychological and emotional areas that needed maturing. I needed a strong dose of character, too.

And now, how do I feel about things as I reach my 47th birthday (not until August) and see life through a different lens? You’ll be happy to know I’ve come to the realization that I’m not really white…DUH. A light went off when I found my adoption papers and learned that I was Taiwanese, not Japanese and Vietnamese as my adoptive parents always told me. My sister found the box where my adoption papers were hidden in my parent’s attic. I wanted to learn about my cultural heritage for the first time in my life. I was intrigued by the possibility that my birthfamily was out there still alive somewhere. Imagine yourself being re-born–that’s the only way I know how to describe what it felt like to learn that I was Taiwanese, that my identity was not what I’d always thought it to be. It’s been thrilling to grow into my cultural roots and even more so, to have met my birthfamily in Taiwan last year. Nothing could ever replace that reunion and the welcome I felt from my two sisters and family in Taipei. I often ask myself now, why am I so passionate about transracial adoption and identity? Who really cares? Then I remind myself that someone needs to speak up about adoption and identity. Someone has to help make it better and help others understand the special challenges of inter-country adoption. Someone has to help adoptees who are struggling emotionally and/or behaviorally due to adoption-related issues. I signed on to be a messenger and a helper.

If you’re wondering where I align myself ethnically now, I’m proud to say that I’m Taiwanese American. After years of identity confusion, it’s nice to finally be clear on that. It’s complicated though. I can’t change the core of who I am, the southern girl who will always be a bit country. I have a fondness for southern food and movies about the South (like Steel Magnolias). There are some things about the South that I appreciate. Louisiana will forever be like home away from home. But during the second half of my life, I will not ignore the fact that I’m also Taiwanese. I have a lot of catching up to do. One day I hope to meet other adult Taiwanese adoptees. We would have a lot to share with each other.

film captures taiwan’s past and present

Almost HomeLast year I met Victoria Linchong at the North American Taiwanese Women’s Association (NATWA II) Annual Convention. Victoria is a Taiwanese-American actress, writer, producer and director working in both theater and film. Her feature directorial debut, Almost Home: Taiwanis currently in post-production. Almost Home was inspired by a 2008 family road trip back to Taiwan. Victoria recently held a successful campaign via Indiegogo where she raised over $5,000 to complete the production of the film. She was also featured in Asian Cinevision’s Cinema Spotlight last December where she discussed her film, as well as her journey as an actor, entrepreneur, and filmmaker. Almost Home: Taiwan is a feature-length documentary that examines the legacy of political repression and the emergence of Taiwanese identity and independence through a family union that takes place after 22 years. In the documentary, Victoria returns to Taiwan with her family searching for long-lost connections. She becomes re-acquainted with the unique culture of the island and its beauty. Bridging the deeply personal and globally political, Almost Home clarifies the controversies surrounding Taiwan, while introducing viewers to Taiwanese culture via raucous night markets, aboriginal festivals, saint trees, and kissing fish.

When I attended the NATWA II Convention last year, I had just returned from reuniting with my birthfamily in Taipei. I knew very little of Taiwan’s history. Victoria helped give me a better understanding of Taiwan’s political past, something you don’t learn about in the textbooks! I look forward to seeing the film and understanding more of Taiwan’s political past and how it’s shaped the country it is now. Currently, Victoria is busy with another production, Big Flower Eater, which she also wrote and stars in. Big Flower Eater is a whimsical collage of folktale, ritual, dance, and historical text that explores the untold history of women in Asia through shamanism in three different cultures: Hmong, Korean, and Taiwanese. It premiered February 7th on stage in New York City. Break a leg, Victoria!

For a snippet of Almost Home: Taiwan, please watch the trailer below:

Please stop by and read Victoria’s interview at Cinevision in full at this link. It’s super interesting! Also visit and like the Almost Home: Taiwan facebook page here.

 

the language of identity

I recently read a book called, “The Language of Flowers,” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It is the heartbreaking, yet poignant story of a young woman who grows up in the foster care system. Until the age of 9, Victoria is shuffled from one family and group home to the next never quite meeting the “standards or expectations” of the adults in her life. Victoria’s social worker, jaded and quite unsympathetic, believes she is nothing more than a troublemaker. Victoria is hurt and traumatized and acts out the only way she knows how to after years of abuse and abandonment – through defiance. She mistrusts everyone around her and has great difficulty developing and maintaining relationships, that is, until she’s placed with Elizabeth. Victoria eventually learns to trust Elizabeth after a period of opposition that would send most of us over the edge and grows to share her passion for flowers. However, circumstances arise that threaten Victoria’s new found sense of security with Elizabeth. Out of desperation, Victoria engages in a dangerous ploy to win over Elizabeth’s undivided love and attention once and for all, again inviting havoc into her life. We watch Elizabeth come of age and struggle with the demons of mistrust, betrayal, and an injurious lack of self-worth as she is forced to reconcile her past and risk everything for the sake of finding the happiness she deserves.

I was genuinely moved by the story of this prickly and difficult young woman. Although I never experienced the level of abuse, nor the traumatic events that occurred in Victoria’s life, the lack of self-acceptance and identity she felt and difficulty developing and maintaining relationships deeply resonated with me. She was imprisoned by her own self-loathing and inability to let others into her life. I totally get that. Yet, she had a special ability and desire to help others through the flowers she chose for them, having learned under Elizabeth’s careful tutorship the meaning of flowers.

For many years, I wrestled with gaining a sense of identity like Victoria. I spent my 20’s chasing after the dream of becoming an actress. I even moved to California to pursue this “folly,” as though acting would help me gain the acceptance I longed for. Like most people in their 20’s, I was exploring my identity and what I wanted to do with my life. However, my search was compounded with all of the insecurities that stemmed from my past – the trauma of being raised in a culturally non-diverse environment, an Asian girl trying to fit in with her predominantly white peers and never ever quite feeling worthy enough. This insecurity plagued me for years and manifested itself in deeply rooted feelings of inferiority, passivity, shyness, and an inability to communicate my feelings. I was a “wallflower” as one incredibly insensitive individual once told me.

I attribute those years of damaged self-image to a couple of things: my inability to express what I was experiencing and feeling to my parents, or to any other person who could have helped me and the lack of positive role-models in my life- by that, I mean other people of the same ethnicity. I’m not positive that my adoptive parents would have known how to help me as I struggled with issues of self-identity and the extreme pressure I felt, mostly self-imposed, to fit into mainstream America. We lived in a predominantly white area, so naturally, I just wanted to be like everyone around me, white. It never occurred to me that being Asian was a positive thing. Having been teased at an early age about my outward appearance, I learned that Asian was not attractive or popular. It makes me sad looking back that I felt so unhappy and insecure about myself. I must mention here that not all transracially adopted children will experience what I did, or have the same issues that I’ve had to wrestle with. Each adoptees’ experiences are unique, and no two families, or circumstances are alike.

Having stated the previous, the growth of my identity has come in small spurts. A huge turning point for me occurred after I had our one and only daughter. I was 31 years old. It literally transformed me. Being a mom opened up my heart in a way I’d never experienced. I’d always had difficulties in developing deep friendships with others, both men and women. My husband often told me that other women in our small church family group didn’t feel “close” to me. I felt hurt by his comments and argued the point, but after having our daughter, I understood a little more clearly. There was an unconditional love and bond that connected me to my daughter, which expanded my heart and inspired the capacity to build deeper and more meaningful friendships. I began to “like” myself because I cherished being a mom. My daughter taught me to give love and to accept love. For once, I felt confident in my role as a mother.

Another huge turning point for me occurred just recently. As many of you know, I reunited with my birth family in Taiwan at the beginning of the year and discovered that, after eons of believing that I was Japanese and Vietnamese (41 years to be exact), I’m actually Taiwanese. Many people ask me if I feel closure now. At first, I thought this was such an odd question because it’s not really an ending but a new beginning for me. I understand, though, from others’ perspective, it appears like closure because I found my true cultural roots and birth family. I guess it is closure in a sense that I accept who I am unequivocally. There’s no mistaking that I’m Taiwanese and finally feel a sense of pride about my ethnicity. I have a renewed sense of identity. I’m still exploring this new identity and what it means to be Taiwanese American. I want to support and become more involved in the Taiwanese American community and greater Asian community in our area. I hope to take more trips to Taiwan and hope to help somehow in the transnational adoption community. Like everyone else, my identity is a culmination of family and life experiences that’s shaped who I am. At times, it’s been a painful process, but nonetheless, one that’s taught me self-preservation, resilience, compassion, and self-worth.

passage to taiwanese america

Taiwan shaped cookies baked by Hanna Huang

When I received an email in January from Ho Chie Tsai, founder of the popular website TaiwaneseAmerican.org, little did I know that I would soon find passage into the world of Taiwanese America. I was relatively unaware that the Taiwanese community in the U.S. is a growing and vibrant populace that reaches across the states, branching into Canada and other countries outside of Taiwan. It all began with an article Ho Chie wrote and posted on TaiwaneseAmerican.org about my adoption journey and, at that time, impending reunion with my birth family in Taiwan. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this inception into my birth culture, having ignored its existence for far too long.

Last weekend, I attended the North American Taiwanese Women’s Association (NATWA II) 24th Annual Convention in Milpitas, CA. I had never heard of the organization until recently, but am beyond excited to have connected with so many other Taiwanese American women, 1st and 2nd generation! The event was coordinated by Jen Kuo, Deana Chuang, and Joann Lo. College students, graduate students, and professionals attended from all across the U.S. and Canada. There were several mothers and daughters. Over the course of the weekend, I met 2 women from Tuscon, AZ. It’s nice to know that there are other Taiwanese American women in AZ!

I was invited to participate in a speaker’s panel at the convention with 2 other women, Victoria Linchong, actress, writer, producer and director and Marilyn Fu, screenwriter. I had such a blast getting to know both women, so bright and talented! Victoria is currently working on directing a film project called Almost Home: Taiwan, a feature length documentary about Taiwan’s struggle for democracy as told through the perspective of a family who return to Taiwan. Marilyn recently wrote a screenplay called The Sisterhood of Night, a narrative film project and story about “how teens connect with each other through art, friendship, and the power of secrets.” One of the teen characters portrayed in her film is Taiwanese American.

The speaker’s panel was a lot of fun. The room was packed full of 1st and 2nd generation attendees. We each answered a series of questions related to mother/daughter relationships and what it was like being raised Taiwanese in America. I talked mostly about what it was like to be raised Taiwanese in a white family (although I didn’t know I was Taiwanese until I was 40 years old!), and how my sense of racial and cultural identity has developed slowly along my journey. I was a little nervous at the beginning of our panel, especially because I didn’t want to go too long in my responses, as we answered each question individually. I brought along a powerpoint slideshow of pictures of my adoptive family and of the reunion with my birth family. I was so surprised and encouraged by the incredible show of support I felt after speaking about “my long journey home.” It was amazing and felt like a huge welcome home.

Deana Chuang and Tammy Chang

The weekend was packed with roundtables, keynote speeches and performances! Ho Chie was one of the keynote speakers on Saturday morning. He gave an impressive presentation on “Nurturing the Next Generation of Taiwanese America: Past Successes, Present Challenges, and New Horizons.” Ho Chie is an amazing speaker and has made it his personal mission to inspire young people to make an impact by discovering their values and passions. He spoke of the influence of the 1st generation Taiwanese and formation of community organizations, the growth of 2nd generation Taiwanese Americans who are paving the way for community and identity in mainstream America, and how we all play a role in defining the future of Taiwanese America as the 3rd generation grows up. I enjoyed participating in the “Learn your Love Language” roundtable facilitated by Michi Fu and Monique Hawthorne and found it so interesting that no matter what culture you come from, no family is perfect and we’re not so different cross-culturally. Although I grew up in a white household in comparison to the other Taiwanese women present who grew up in more traditional Taiwanese households, our parents shared similar communication styles – for the most part, our parents were not very communicative or expressive, and rarely, if ever, communicated words of affirmation. We had a great time discussing and laughing about our own love languages and getting to know each other in our small groups.

Saturday evening, each chapter of NATWA (1st generation women) gave a performance, including NATWA II. I have to admit, I steered clear of participating in the NATWA II skit, but the volunteers who did participate were quite entertaining!

Perhaps one of the best parts of the convention was going out to eat with all the NATWA II ladies! Other than the Taiwanese food I ate in Taiwan, I have not been exposed to much Taiwanese cuisine, so the girls made sure that I sampled plenty! We were right next to an Asian plaza with numerous Chinese and cross cultural restaurants. I was completely stuffed the whole weekend!

The convention went by entirely too fast. I feel like I was just getting to know everyone when it was time to come back home and wish that I had stopped to take more pictures. It seems that I have added to my family 30 something new Taiwanese American sisters. I’m already looking forward to next year’s convention in Los Angeles and am planning to take my family along. One of the things I appreciated most about the convention was how welcomed I felt into the Taiwanese American community, at least into the community of women and families who attended. It felt like a true sisterhood. For so long, I didn’t know that I was Taiwanese. It’s almost like a part of me was missing, though I could never quite put my finger on what exactly it was before. During a conversation I had recently with a friend, I told her that there are many different pieces of my identity. At one time, I believed that I was part Vietnamese and Japanese, but tried so hard to be white. Now that I’ve discovered what my true cultural roots are, the pieces are  beginning to fit. There will always be a part of me that’s a southern girl from Bossier City, LA. I love my family back in LA, my sister and her kids. Another part of my identity, the one that I rejected for so many years, has finally emerged. That part of me would like to go back to Taiwan one day to see my biological sisters again and to get to know the country better. I would also love to get to know some of the women I met at the convention better. There’s always next year in LA!

natwa II 24th annual convention

I’m speaking at the upcoming NATWA II (North American Taiwanese Women’s Association) Convention! I was invited to join the speaker’s panel to share a little of my adoption story, as well as to address the topic of identity, more specifically the journey in discovering my Taiwanese identity. The NATWA II Convention is held annually. This year’s theme is “Love and Compassion.” I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to meet so many other Taiwanese American and Canadian women, as well as to rub shoulders with the other speakers who include Marilyn Fu, screenwriter and Victoria Linchong, actress, writer, producer and director. Furthermore, I’m excited about becoming a part of the Taiwanese American community. I’ve never attended anything like this related to my Taiwanese heritage.

NATWA II is an association bringing together 1.5 and 2nd generation Taiwanese American and Canadian women. Its parent organization is NATWA, which consists of 1st generation Taiwanese women – mothers, grandmothers, aunts. The purposes of NATWA II include:

(1) to establish a network consisting of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(2) to cultivate and promote talents among young Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(3) to preserve Taiwanese culture and promote Taiwanese American and Canadian identity.

You can check out NATWA II’s website and find more information on the convention and speakers at http://natwa2.org/. Both NATWA and NATWA II will present separate and joint programs. The convention will be held in San Jose/Silicon Valley, CA from April 19-22. I’m looking forward to it!