TAF Real World – Week #49 of 51

General consensus is that TAF helps us understand ourselves better. Subsequently, this also gives us insightful material when needing to write essays for English class/college admissions essays. [TAF is great for academic success!] Here’s Jason (YAY!) with an introspection piece. See you all in North Manchester, Indiana in FOUR WEEKS!


Yeh /yā/ (rhymes with hay. Same pronunciation as interjection yay.) n.
1. The root of all awful jokes generally following roll call or an introduction
2. My last name

I’ve always thought that names are an important aspect to someone’s sense of self. Without names, no one would have an identity. I imagine it would also be a lot tougher to buy Taylor Swift’s amazing new album on iTunes. There would also be absolutely no chance that a white person could identify the actual race of that one “Asian kid” without names. This belief has led me to question why the universe has decided to spite me by birthing me into a family with such a comically simple last name. I mean no disrespect or dishonor to my ‘fahmiry’; my family doesn’t get much better. Just there is this one little three-letter embarrassment. I am positively certain everyone has that single facet of themselves they absolutely dread. For some people, it could be a final exam that they “studied” for by watching the last five seasons of Entourage or a musical performance that was unprepared for (lip syncing actually isn’t considered an effective method of practice). Both actually apply to me, but they don’t even compare alongside introductions. Not just because I know I’ll manage to embarrass myself within twenty seconds of meeting someone, but because of the awkward single eyebrow and head cock I receive after introducing myself with, “Hello, I’m Jason Yeh. Nice to meet you.” It would be extremely rash for me to blame my current teenage unemployment to my last name, but I know I received an aforementioned eyebrow and head cock at a job interview at the local Dairy Queen. The unemployment is probably because my competition was a high honor roll and dance member at my high school. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have chosen me either. All of my teachers and coaches would even dish out similar eyebrows and head cocks upon learning that my last name was actually not several foreign car companies long.

Of course since then I have changed. I know there was no event of self-actualization found in movies. Accepting my last name has actually been disappointingly anti-climatic. Now, I don’t have to mumble through introductions with gibberish syllables after “Yeh.” Rather, it’s as if my brain tells me in the voice of Kanye West, “You is what you is.” I can take pride in what I am, and I know that has to mean a higher sense of maturity. At least that’s what I managed to rationalize the situation with. When that fails, I know that the jokes that follow my name aren’t as bad as some jokes that follow “Bing Wang.”

TAF Real World – Week #47 of 51

FIVE more weeks until THE ONES!!!

HAFA ADAI! (That’s “Hello” in Chamorro, the local dialect in Guam.) Here’s Bing video blogging from Guam (it’s in the South Pacific for those who didn’t know). Umm… can someone get me a box of tissues? You might need some tissues too. And then, after you watch this video, and stop crying, you’re probably going to need your credit card so that you can register for TAF right away! LOL

TAF Real World – Week #46 of 51

Hello Everyone!
The LOVE OUT LOUD blog was busy with exams, graduations and summer travels. But we’re back and getting ready for our final countdown to TAF2011! (Be sure to register ASAP! We are on WEEK 46 – or 6 more weeks until TAF!!!)
Here are Cathleen, Erica, Jasmine, Joy and Allen spreading some LOL in the language of words of affirmation.
P.S. Happy Father’s Day!

TAFers start a mobile funnel cake business

Hello Everyone!
My name is Jason Lee and I have been a TAFer since 1998. Fun fact, I have some 15 or more cousins who all have been to TAF as well, and one president uncle! I’ve spent the past few years as a counselor for JH and Youth.
I’ve recently graduated, but over the last four years, when I wasn’t at TAF, I was studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under a created major in Asian American Film and Media. Essentially, I took lots of Asian American Studies, Media Studies, and Cinema Studies classes, and studied how they relate to representations of Asian Americans on TV, movies, magazines, and so on. For example, when our classmates judo chop at us and say “Waaaahhhh” as if it were a question, it is a direct legacy of how much influence images that people see on TV and in the movies have on people’s perception of us.
I am especially interested in how many Asian Americans like you and me are counteracting the stereotypes we see created and recreated over and over again in the media by producing music, movies, poetry, and other art that represent Asian Americans in a more three-dimensional and complex light.

You see, something I’ve heard thousands of times throughout my life is the question, “Can’t some stereotypes be good?” And my answer is this: “Stereotypes are never good because we are unique individuals and stereotypes tend to simplify us into these one-dimensional cartoon characters with very little personality”.

That’s exactly what we learn at TAF. Everyone there is Taiwanese, but as we find throughout the week, everyone is quite unique and complex and amazing in very individual ways. That’s why I want to get into film… because movies have so much power in changing perceptions. Think about your favorite movie. Is it your favorite movie because it had awesome explosions or a really hunky actor? Maybe. But it’s also your favorite because watching it made you feel a certain way. Movies have the ability to engulf its audiences and make them feel what the actors are feeling in very physical ways (i.e. when we cry, laugh, cover our eyes). That’s why, while Hollywood has created many simplifying stereotypes of Asian Americans over the years (i.e. geeky business man or subservient geisha) film can also be a great medium for giving Asian Americans more spotlight as real, unique individuals.

For my senior project, I wrote, fundraised, produced, and directed a short film that put together many of the ideas and themes that inspired me during my college career. It’s called Doughboy: Inventor. Entrepreneur. Funnel Cake Hero. It’s a twelve-minute dark comedy about an Asian American male who decides to continue his late father’s American dream of making funnel cakes as easy to find as a hot dog. So he builds a mobile funnel cake suit inspired by his ultimate hero, Data Wang from The Goonies. The reason why I wanted to write this week’s blog was because TAFers took a crucial part in making Doughboy come to life.

I raised funds to make the movie through a website called Kickstarter, where supporters back projects they like with various amounts of money in exchange for goodies that come out of the project. I was incredibly humbled by the amount of support coming out of the Taiwanese American community, including a large donation from TaiwaneseAmerican.org. By the end of the fundraising campaign, my project was 143% funded!

Then it came to production. About twenty people traveled from all parts of the country to Los Angeles to help me make Doughboy come to life. There was a little joke going around because it seemed like while all of the actors were Korean, all of the crew was Taiwanese. That is because many TAFers volunteered their time and talents to help me make my college dream project a reality.

It was a very hectic week. It seemed there was always another problem arising that we could not foresee just as we found a solution to the problem preceding it. However, a leadership quality we learn at TAF is the ability to step up where help is needed and fill in the gaps to get things done. For many of our crew members, it was about getting Doughboy made and many people volunteered to take care of the many details that needed to be done, from making funnel cakes to filling out paperwork for the Screen Actors Guild.

In the end, it was a very trying week. But it was amazing to see so many people coordinating and working together for a common cause. I am wrapping up the project now and have thanked many people for their support throughout the process. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to make a big shout out to the my friends in the Taiwanese American community. I could have never made Doughboy without the support of so many talented TAFers or the skills TAF has instilled in me throughout the years. Thank YOU.

You can’t watch Doughboy online yet, as I can’t publicly release it online if I want to get it into any film festivals. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to know someone receiving the DVD, who helped out with the fundraising process a few months back. Or perhaps you will be able to watch it on the big screen at an Asian American film festival near you! Whether you are able to watch it or not, I appreciate your continued to support, not only for my work, but also for me as a friend, a counselor, or someone I would call my brother or sister.

Love Out Loud through {HEART JAPAN}

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to TAF and actually only went that one year. But it’s amazing the friendships that forge through one week at TAF. Since then I’ve stayed in touch with a good handful of TAF folks and it’s been even easier to follow as production quality has gotten better and better. It’s always inspiring to see what people do with their gifts and talents and amazing the impact we can make as a generation through multimedia.

Recently, my wife and I started an organization called {HEART JAPAN} along with two of our creative friends. Our goal is to empower other creatives to make a difference with the gifts and talents they’ve been given. It’s truly amazing what we can do as a collective group as opposed to individuals.

Although we’re currently focused on Japan, we plan on rolling it out to a much larger scale. Maybe what you are passionate about is your local dog shelter. Well go out there and do something about it!

In the meantime, what can you do?

1. Get involved.

Think of a creative way to raise funding and/or awareness and we can help get the word out about it and support you from the back end. It’s pretty open for interpretation. Doing a bake sale, a benefit concert, a silent auction, an art show, YouTubeing about it. That all counts. Visit heart-japan.org/join for more info.

2. Support.

Buy a shirt. We have shirts and calendars on sale on the website. All proceeds will be going to support Japan relief. Visit heart-japan.org/shop to see everything.

Donate money. Regardless of if we’re a student or working, we’re all very blessed. Support Japan relief directly at heart-japan.org/donate.

Support a friend. For those of you guys who know Young Lee, he and his band are having a benefit concert this Saturday. For details and to see what might be going on in your area, visit heart-japan.org/benefits. If there isn’t one in your area, see number 1.

3. Get the Word Out!

We all have so much power and voice through all of the social media out there. Facebook, tweet, email, and/or text people about {HEART JAPAN}. Although it was started by four creatives, {HEART JAPAN} is our collective effort!

Thanks for listening to an old man talk. Do good, be passionate, and love out loud!

Jacob Fu

(That’s me in the bottom right!)

TAF Real World – Week #36 of 51

TAF Chicago would like to extend a great big “OH HEY” to all fellow TAFers. Although spring is slowly but surely creeping up on us out here in the midwest, it’s still as cold as some soft serve ice cream from the Manchester Cafeteria, and not nearly as delicious! We here at TAF Chicago are a crafty bunch. So to keep our toes and spirits warm, we dance! In an effort to keep the TAF spirit strong year round, our monthly gatherings are filled with many of the same games, activities, and rotating themes of leadership, communication, ethics & values, and identity taught at TAF. Included among these activities is of course, Swing Choir. More than half a year after TAF 2011 has come and gone, campers can still bust out their favorite Swing Choir choreography.

P.S. the part of the video between 2:16-3:58, where it goes to a black screen with no sound… is for you to imagine your own beats so you can dance too! LOL

TAF Real World – Week #34-35ish of 51

Happy Spring! Seventeen weeks until TAF 2011! Seven spots left for this LOL Blog Year! http://bit.ly/tafrealworldsignup

So to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this blog assignment. There’s so much to say about TAF and so much to say about Loving Out Loud. Then I realized something – hand-written letters are slowly becoming extinct, but they make people warm and fuzzy inside. So here’s a letter for you!

After I wrote this letter, I got online and chatted with my little sib from 2008 for a little bit, and we agreed that we’d try to hang out whenever I make it back up to Chicago again. So here’s my challenge to you: reach out to those friends who you haven’t talked to in a while and check in on them. Check in on a little/big sib and see how they’re doing. It’s a small gesture, but you never know what can make someone’s day. Put your pen to paper and write a letter to someone, or even write a small thank you note for someone who may have made your day.

I’m not sure who Amanda is, but this is just one way of many to Love out Loud. We can show people we care with our words and our actions. Your role as a TAFer is never over! We’ve got to go out and use everything that we’ve learned at TAF in the real world, because the real world needs servant leaders, and people who love.

Oh – if you need stationery, click around here and you’ll find some cute stuff, like the one I used! http://moko.pupu.jp/print/

TAF Real World – Week #32 of 51

Hello! Apologies from the TAFBlog admin that this is posted a wee bit late. We’re already through weeks 32 and 33ish (less than 20 weeks until TAF ’11)! sTAFf applications are out and conference dates have been set. Don’t forget to apply, mark your calendars and invite your friends! Speaking of friends, here are Stephanie, Kristin and Jennifer with a LOVE OUT LOUD refresher crash course.

TAF Real World – Week #31 of 51

Hi there, WEEK 31 (or 20 WEEKS ’til TAF!) Here’s Sherry sharing an example of LOLing – ninja style. Don’t forget to sign up to post more LOL thoughts/stories/media here!

Attention TAF Family,
This is Sherry Lin reporting LIVE from the University of Illinois Chicago. There has been a recent report of a ‘LOVE Ninja’ activity on the UIC campus. These disguised figures were spotted passing out care packages under the banner of LOVE. Let us look deeper into this LOL matter inspired by their Sensei, Jaeson Ma’s 365 Days of Love project.

TAF Real World – Week #30 of 51

Hello! It’s already WEEK 30 (or 21 weeks ’til TAF!) Here’s Tiffany with a lovely essay on what makes TAF unique, yet translatable to all mankind:

I have a friend whose dad is a priest, and she’s super into everything church-related. For the past few years, I’ve heard about the summer camps, the random weekend events during the year, and the close friends she’s made from all of these things. One of the most recent events that she attended was an out-of-state basketball tournament she’s been going to for a few years. She was super excited for it and talked about non-stop the week leading up to it, but I’d heard it all before so I didn’t really think all that much about it. When I saw her the following Monday in class, I asked how it was. She said it was good, but then got a nostalgic look in her eyes, and started talking about how she missed it so much and felt like she just didn’t want to do anything when she got back home.

This really kind of hit me because it reminded me of post-TAF depression, or TAF blues. I remember getting a handout my first year during small group, and I remember exchanging raised-eyebrow looks with a fellow newbie in the group. All the “symptoms” and everything just sounded so silly. But in all honesty, once I experienced post-TAF that first year, I realized how much truth was in that little half-sheet of paper. There are just moments where you pause whatever you’re doing and zone out for a little while, just reminiscing on those great memories, and you don’t really feel like doing anything else. It sounded just like what my friend had mentioned, and it got me thinking. The more I thought, the more parallels I found between my friend’s experiences and my own TAF experiences. We’ve both made incredible interstate friendships, learned enlightening things, and gained valuable experiences. I suppose this would hopefully apply to any camp, but it’s like, the level of the impact. I went to a music camp the same summer I started going to TAF, and believe me, there was definitely a difference. I think a lot of where you can see the impact is with post-event communication; how close you get to the people you meet. I’ll admit, I have a habit of predominantly texting TAFers over school friends. My friend’s inbox also tends to be mostly camp/church friends. She’s more prone to tell her camp friends confidential things, and as am I. It’s not that kids at our school are undependable cold jerks, it’s just that friends we’ve made at camp just tend to be easier to talk to, even if we barely ever get to see them.

A lot the topics TAF related all relate to one thing- TAFlove. How singularly unique it is, how touching, how amazing it is. But I’ll admit, all these parallels with my friend’s experiences made me start to wonder if TAFlove really is unique. Yes, TAFlove is undeniably incredible, but is it one-of-a-kind? Are we the only ones that experience, absorb, and eventually try to spread this kind of love?

A few weeks ago, my school celebrated diversity week. We had culture-themed lunches, special “facts of the day” over the PA system, and most importantly, a diversity assembly. It was a motley assortment of performances, from Native American chants to poems in different languages, but one of the things that stood out most to me was a little speech one guy made. He pointed out things like being one of the school’s two National Award winners, one of two African Americans on the school leadership board; things that he was part of, but others were too. He was never the only one that did the things he did, and wasn’t “unique” because of the individual things he did. But rather, he was diverse because he had the combination of all the things he did. He pointed out that although there are other people doing what he was doing, there was no one else in the world that had his exact grouping of activities and accomplishments. And he was therefore, unique.

I think that’s the same concept with TAF and TAFlove. There are other people, places, things, that set out to do things the way TAF does, that strive to make the world a better place like TAF does, and that love like TAF does. But what makes TAF and TAFlove unique are all the little things that it’s made up of, what defines it. It’s the people, the campus, the program itself, the love, the things TAF has accomplished, the things TAFers have accomplished, the people TAF has influenced, the people those people went on to influence, the lives impacted, and just everything TAF is made of up. On their own, these things may not be that unique, but when everything is combined together, TAF and TAFlove are undeniably special and one-of-a-kind.

So in the end, I realized TAF is just an incredible thing. There may be other programs and camps that are incredibly similar to TAF, that reach for the same goals, create the same kind of relationships, and are just as wonderful, but that doesn’t make TAF any less unique or special. It is still amazing, inspirational, impactful, unconditional, unforgettable. It’s just TAF.
<3 Love you guys, Tiffany(: