The convention-goers gather for a group picture with a view of the Space Needle.

Twice a year, board members from TAP and TACL programs around the nation convene for a weekend to develop leadership skills, explore Taiwanese American identity, and discuss how to engage as citizens of our communities. The weekends also feature social events that strengthen our friendship/network across the country. TACL’s Winter 2017 Convention, “Power Up!” was hosted in Seattle from January 13-16, with over 70 leaders attending. Check out the following two reflections from first-time attendee Gloria from TAP-LA and TAP-SD/TACL alumna Christina Wang:

Reflection of a First Time Convention Attendee

by Gloria Hou, TAP-LA

As I traveled to Seattle for the TACL 2017 Winter Convention as a first-time attendee, I contemplated how the city has transformed itself from a manufacturing powerhouse to a modern day technological hub. This was also the central theme for the Convention: how can we bring innovation to our programs and evolve ourselves to be better community leaders?

Imagine dozens of our nation’s leaders in Taiwanese American programs all in one place! On the very first day, as I chowed down on my traditional Taiwanese breakfast, I glanced around quietly to see myself immersed in a crowd of entirely new faces, but having a shared love for all things Taiwan. This common ground made conversation easier and I never had to worry about running out of people to meet or engaging topics to discuss.

While I was surrounded by individuals like me, they were at the same time very different from me. As we shared stories in the “Identity and Intersectionality” workshop about what defines who we are, I met other TACL leaders with diverse upbringings, life experiences, and beliefs. I realized that being Taiwanese American is much more complexthan I had originally thought. Born and raised Angeleno, I was surprised to hear how different it was for my new friends from the Midwest to grow up Asian American. This workshop developed my sensitivity to the differences among us and inspired me to address the needs of my community back home more effectively.

During the “Civic Engagement” workshop, we discussed the role that organizations play in a community. For instance, many transformative advances in society were driven by coalitions, support groups, and organizations that challenged power relationships. TACL acts as one of these organizations by representing Taiwanese Americans and promoting diversity and acceptance in the U.S. This workshop also prompted big questions that have yet to be fully answered: what impact will TACL leave behind for our communities? And what impact will I leave behind?

My first TACL Convention experience gave me the opportunity to meet a diverse group of individuals while exploring the motivations behind our work. As we reflected and engaged with one another across the various workshops, I shared my story and listened with an open mind. Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m inspired to explore the questions that came up in conversations and to give back to this Taiwanese American community that has helped me evolve. I came to Convention with excitement and left with new ideas, new experiences and new friends.

Jeff Shieh (Director of Civic Engagement and Political Internship Program) leads a workshop on citizenship and civic engagement.

Reflection of a TACL Alumna

by Christina Wang

My only responsibility at TACL Winter 2017 Convention? Have FUN!! I was excited to join the TACL family at the convention in Seattle this year because it was the first year I didn’t have to run meetings, icebreakers, or workshops. I was duty free! While I would have liked to hear our new President’s vision speech and eat the yummy ​”​fan tuan​” breakfast, I swallowed my FOMO and busied myself with my own itinerary.

On Saturday night, I was pleasantly greeted by familiar faces at the Lunar New Year Banquet. The reunions were heartwarming and there was so much catching up I wanted to do with each chapter since I no longer have monthly calls with the Presidents. I did my best to meet new board members, welcome them to the TACL family, and thank them for all the time and hard work they put into our organization. My hope was to motivate them to continue their efforts and to give confidence to the new program and chapter Presidents.

On Sunday, I peeked in at the end of Convention programming to watch programs exchange Secret Santa gifts and to catch the reveal the next TACL Convention location. In my opinion, these are the best ways to close out convention. Our Sunday night tradition of karaoke was strong as we sang (yelled) at the top of our lungs inside a maze of old train cars at Seattle’s Orient Express. The next day, I happily joined our Seattle resident tour guides, Jerome and Jeff, on a walking tour of the downtown area, finishing off the long weekend at our own pace. I am very proud of the Seattle chapter for successfully hosting convention, and can’t wait for our youngest TAP chapter in Austin to host their first Convention in September!!

Our TACL family getting to know each other.

Gloria Hou is the Health & Wellness Chair for TAP-LA

Christina Wang is a former VP of TAP Chapters for TACL National and former President of TAP-SD