This piece was written for the youth participants and alumni of the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF), the oldest summer conference serving people of Taiwanese heritage. It was originally published at the TAF website and has been republished here with permission.
By Ho Chie Tsai
The first time I listened to a presentation about the 228 Incident, one of Taiwan’s most tragic and defining moments in history, my only memory was that I chuckled and giggled alongside my group of friends during a moment when the speaker passionately proclaimed in his accented-English that this was the Taiwanese “holocaust.” It was August of 1986, and I was 14 years old–a “freshman” at TAF.
I was young, and I didn’t know better. It wasn’t that I thought the turn-of-events being recounted was something to be laughed it. On the contrary, the audience was rather solemn, maybe even slightly bored. But that microphone-enhanced proclamation of “holocaust” simply refocused everyone’s attention… in a humorous and unintended way. Even though the speaker’s imperfect accented English reminded me of my parents’ own, that teenage version of me wasn’t that forgiving. And so yes, I laughed. In fact, looking back, I realize now that I knew very little about my heritage and our people’s history. I certainly didn’t have much pride in my identity as a Taiwanese American, and it manifested as silly behaviors of a teenager.
During the TAF camp of the 80′s, our Monday afternoon schedule included a “Taiwan Culture” session. It was an attempt to help our young emerging 2nd generation audience, of which I was a part of, to be more knowledgeable about our parents’ experiences and the issues that they cared about. Our invited program speaker was usually a 1st generation immigrant parent. There really wasn’t much choice; we didn’t have many 2nd generation speakers that we could relate to and who were knowledgeable about Taiwanese history and politics topics. As passionate as the 1st generation parents were about teaching us history, though, perhaps we weren’t all that interested since we were doing what most high school students typically do–trying to be “cool” and to find acceptance wherever we could. It didn’t involve knowing the details of some history of a “foreign” country that my parents left.
Over time, I’ve come to realize how wrong I was, and how insecure my identity was at that time. I didn’t know how much I needed to be at this “Taiwanese camp” that my parents forced me to attend. However, the full week’s experience and the people I met changed me. I made friends who struggled with similar issues of identity and teenage angst. I was inspired to be like the dedicated counselors and advisors that lifted me up every day. I discovered a foundation of self-pride and acceptance like I had never known before. After that week, I longed to know more about my heritage and my parents’ stories. I wanted to know what it meant to be Taiwanese American.
And I wished I could go back to the early part of that week and listen more closely to the history that was being taught. But with more respect and attention.
Although it took me well over a decade to fully learn and understand the interpretations, nuances, and sensitivities surrounding Taiwan’s complicated history and turn-of-events, I continue to have such an appreciation for its evolving story. And each year now, I remember 228 – short for February 28, 1947, the date which marked the massacre of an estimated 20,000 Taiwanese and the imprisonment of approximately 140,000 more who were suspected of opposing the newly established Nationalist KMT’s Republic of China government. It would also mark the beginning of the “White Terror” martial law era and foreshadow the mass migration of 2 million people fleeing China to Taiwan after losing their Civil War to the Communists in 1949.
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As I’ve been devouring all the Invicta FC fight videos I can find, one particular fighter from Japan has really caught my eye. Mizuki Inoue is fresh out of high school, and yet she’s touted as one of the most skillful strikers out there, a real stand-up prodigy. Watching this fight above between Inoue and Bec Hyatt at Invicta FC 6 will show you just why she is so impressive, and not just for her young age. She bobs and weaves and strikes while dancing around her opponent with some gorgeous footwork, in some ways strikingly reminiscent of some of Mike Tyson’s moves, pun intended.
Having started MMA when she was in 6th grade, her young age and combat arts technical genius is simply exciting because of how far she can go with a long and prosperous road before her. She’s adorably deadly already, and I just can’t contain my excitement wondering what kind of athlete fighter she’ll be in five years, in ten years. I hope we see her again soon this year in one of Invicta FC’s six events. I’m looking forward to seeing some more of her sharp moves!
8Asians is an official media partner of this project.
The Oakland Asian Cultural Center (OACC) is proud to present our national #APIVoices YouTube Video Contest! This is YOUR chance to share a topic that you
feel is relevant to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, and challenge the stereotype that social issues do not affect APIs.
Select video submissions will be posted to the OACC YouTube page.
WHAT: Create a video that describes an issue you care about as a member of the API community
WHERE: YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook
WHEN: March 14th – April 14th
WHY: API issues and concerns are not explored enough in our schools, in our media, and in our society. time for us to speak out and be heard!
While I weep quietly in my little corner of the world, I’m thinking only one in a hundred people who saw the title of this post have any idea what Buyuden even is. It is, in my opinion, one of the best Japanese manga out there ever.
The story starts with Take Isamu, a top student at his upper elementary school who excels at everything from math to sports to catching the eyes of the ladies, and he knows it too. His being oozes superiority complex. That is, until he runs into some delinquents that give him a beat down. Then a new girl at his school jumps in and, with some fancy boxing footwork and an iron sense of justice, defeats the bullies. His new schoolmate, the girl Kaname Moka, is a boxing prodigy. Instead of being grateful, of course, Take is completely humiliated from being saved by a girl and yells at her for coming to his rescue. She calls him a “weak man” and takes off.
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When my brother in-law told me how his fellow Asian realtors were upset about a proposed law to limit Asian enrollment in California colleges, I was initially skeptical. A law to put a cap on Asian students? But after looking at an e-mail (shown below) about that proposal that he forwarded me and doing a little research, there seemed to be something to this. State Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5) looks to change California’s Proposition 209, which eliminated affirmative action in the state, to once again allow racial preferences in public education. If approved by the California Assembly (it’s already approved by the State Senate), this proposal will go to California voters for approval. Some groups have reacted by putting up a petition at change.org and another at whitehouse.gov.
Recently I was able to serve as somewhat of a tour guide to some American friends who were interested in visiting a country in Asia, specifically Taiwan.
Out of quite a lot of options, Taiwan came out as the top pick primarily because of accessibility (not TOO long a flight), safety (democratic country), and price point. My being able to speak Mandarin and Taiwanese helped in the decision too.
Previously, I visited Taiwan either to study or to visit family, so this is the first time I actually visited Taiwan as a tourist.
As a result, I was able to gather a lot of travel data that, I felt, would be best shared for others who are interested in traveling Taiwan.
The first worry about visiting a foreign country is the language barrier.
I was just scrolling down the blog Women’s MMA Today a few weeks ago and saw Jenny Liou’s name in her first pro-fight. Curious, I decided to search her up on YouTube and found this amateur fight of her from a couple years ago. The turn-around in the fight was just phenomenal and totally exciting to watch. With a jiu-jitsu background, it’s clear in this amateur fight that Liou’s ground game was pretty awesome but it’s also clear that her stand-up was not on the same level. Nevertheless, her recent pro-fight ended in a TKO win against Rachael Ostovich, so I can’t wait to see that fight. It’s always exciting to see athlete fighters grow.
Aside from being a pro-MMA fighter, Liou is also a Ph.D. in literature, a poet, and a probably soon-to-be English professor. How’s that for contrast.
Liou will be on King of the Cage today, Saturday February 22nd, fighting in Scottsdale AZ against Jillian Lybarger. In the meantime, you can check out her Fight of the Night win against Ariel Beck from a couple months ago!
As you may know, Houston Rockets basketball player Jeremy Lin endorses Volvo as one of his many sponsorships. I’ve been getting around to catching up on blog posts and Lin back in January released a viral web video to talk about his “XC60 Workout,” which basically has Lin utilizing a Volvo XC60 in a wide variety of ways in a campy video to show how he works out. Personally, I think the video is a bit too campy. Thankfully it’s not a television commercial. I wonder if Lin will be doing more of these types of videos for Volvo or his other sponsorships.
In a shocking turn not even the live news announcers fully expected, Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova took home the gold medal in ladies figure skating (her country’s first), upsetting defending gold-medalist South Korea’s Yuna Kim at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Italy’s Carolina Kostner, a veteran in the sport, took home the bronze.
The internet, as always, is ablaze in the controversy. Even the New York Times (and Kurt Browning) is confused. Essentially, it all comes down to the math of the ever-confusing scoring system (oh for the days of the perfect 6.0). The move-by-move breakdown shows where each skater gained points over the other, with Sotnikova gaining a clear edge with technical. Yet many feel she was out-skated by Kim. In my extremely non-expert opinion, Kim is a more beautiful skater in terms of artistry and grace. Both programs were near flawless, and in a sport rife with technical ambition to raise the number of triples and push for higher, faster jumps, it’s hard to know exactly what happened. Sotnikova certainly got a boost from the home crowd and did not break under what must have been immense pressure and expectations. Still, the question remains: Should Yuna Have Won?
Some accusations of controversy stem from the anonymous judging system. And that one of the judges had recently been suspended for trying to fix and event at the Winter Olympics over a decade ago and that another is married to the head of the Russian figure skating federation. A petition to investigate the judging on change.org has already reached more than 1.7 million signatures.
Kim, who announced her retirement after the free skate, has remained poised and accepting of her second-place finish: “The judges give points and I can’t do anything about that. I did all I wanted to do, like I wanted to do it…I did all I can.” A queen to the last, we salute you, Yuna.
Need more reading to help weed through the controversy?
By Eugene Hung
“Not being chosen to represent the United States at the Olympic Games in Sochi and at the 2014 World Championships in Japan has been extremely disappointing to me, and it has been very difficult for me to process. … [It] was devastating and I remain confused by US Figure Skating’s decision.”
So said Mirai Nagasu via Facebook comments posted around 3 A.M. on January 30, breaking her long English-language media silence on the controversy we’ve followed for four weeks. (She had spoken briefly to Japanese network Fuji TV while at the Four Continents Championships in Taiwan.)
She’s not the only one who’s confused. Her numerous supporters, along with many journalists, longtime figure skating observers, and figure skating fans, have also been shaking their heads, trying to make sense of it all.
Of course, no one, least of all Mirai, is confused about how U.S. Figure Skating officials justified their decision to leave her off both the Olympic and World Championship teams. Her third-place finish at Nationals was never, according to U.S. Figure Skating’s rules, going to guarantee her a place on them. The decision was based on a comparison of each skater’s 2013-14 “body of work,” meaning each skater’s results in certain major competitions during that time period.
So on this, no one is confused; U.S. Figure Skating officials were operating within their rights when they left Mirai off those teams. The skating federation’s powerful International Committee Management Subcommittee (ICMS), the nine-member group that actually makes the selections, did indeed follow their rules, based on the letter of their law.
You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got … (Crickets)
But did they follow the spirit of their law? Was their decision-making process truly fair and ethical? That’s the big question. And this is where things get confusing, because the big question raises many additional questions, none of which have answers yet. Questions like:
Lately I’ve been adding a little Muay Thai as part of my work out routine, having a blast with it, and a friend shared this muay thai Youtube with me about trainers from Thailand who came to train UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre (GSP).
I had just watched a documentary about GSP, so I was really amused by the fact that these trainers had no idea who GSP was when they were asked to train him and actually declined at first, claiming it was “too far away and too cold”. I also cracked up that Canadian immigration knew they were there to train GSP in muay thai and let them through no questions asked.
Although the average person on the street may not necessarily know what muay thai is, muay thai is definitely now becoming more and more mainstream, especially among martial arts and MMA circles. It’s nice to see another Asian martial art spread across the North American landscape.
“Do any white kids go there?
“Where do most of these kids go to school?”
“Mission San Jose.”
It turns out that Mission San Jose, a majority Asian high school in Fremont, California, made it on a list of the top 25 US high schools by SAT and ACT scores. Nine high schools with large Asian American student populations, some of which we have talked about, are in that top 25.
The number one high school for standardized tests is Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, which has an Asian American plurality. A number of these schools are in Silicon Valley, such as the Harker School (#2), Lynbrook, (#7), Henry M. Gunn (#12), Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), and Leland (#20). Some of these like Monte Vista, Lynbrook, and Mission San Jose have Asian American majorities, while the others have very large Asian American student populations. Stuyvesant (#4) in New York and the Illinois Math and Science Academy (#11) both have Asian American majorities. 8asians has talked about Mission San Jose and Cupertino (where Monta Vista is) schools on a number of occasions.
Does performance on standardized tests mean that those schools are doing a good job?