Our hearts were bursting out of our chests, always wanting to do more for Taiwan, yet constantly looked down upon. No one really seemed to quite get us – why we cared so much about Taiwan or why we felt such a strong responsibility towards Taiwan – so we decided to take matters into our own hands.
On March 9, 2014, one week before the Sunflower Movement, we put together a proposal that eventually became Outreach for Taiwan (OFT). OFT started due to our growing concern about the lack of knowledge about Taiwan’s past and present among Taiwanese Americans. To many, Taiwan was just about bubble tea and night markets. To most, talk of Taiwan seemed radical or too extreme. We wanted to change that. We decided to create OFT as a way to teach others about the history of Taiwan, and to further their ability to effectively communicate about Taiwan’s past, present and future.
The first few months were very rough, as we struggled to distinguish the fine line between advocacy and education, and as we fought to find our place in the Taiwanese community. We found ourselves alone and disheartened many times down the road. Midway through the year, it seemed things were finally getting brighter for OFT. The Sunflower Movement was quite a turning point for the Taiwanese community. It has made many Taiwanese more passionate about the realities of Taiwan, and made more Taiwanese Americans more curious about Taiwan. Eventually, we all came to work together.
In less than a year, Outreach for Taiwan grew from just the 2 of us, to 6. We’ve hosted workshops at universities, and events of all sorts with all different organizations across the Taiwanese community.
For the first generation fighters for Taiwan, we helped carry the torch and hosted the Keep Taiwan Free Rally, while just months before, we held a “Tales of Taiwan” workshop to teach second generation Taiwanese Americans at Rutgers University about the history of civil movements in Taiwan. Over the summer, we buddied up with overseas Taiwanese and hosted an #Art4TW initiative, which showcased artworks by a local Taiwanese artist that portrayed Taiwan’s current realities. Not always about work, we also took some leisure time having drinks with Taiwanese American Professionals -New York chapter.
As we enter 2015 and look at what is ahead for us, we only hope to do more. We hope to expand on the number of workshops we host, to bring the knowledge of Taiwan along the East Coast and even to the West Coast. We hope to produce more content to get people to come to our site to learn more about Taiwan. Our efforts are all in hopes of bringing more people together from different generations, organizations and backgrounds. We hope more proponents of Taiwan – no matter first generation Taiwanese Americans, second generation Taiwanese Americans, overseas Taiwanese students, black, white, yellow, blue or green – to come together to bring Taiwan to the world’s attention.
We hope everyone can join us either by liking our social media posts, reading our articles, commenting on our thoughts or simply reaching out to us and asking “What is the first step to outreach for Taiwan?”
Eric Tsai & Jenny Wang