TAF Real World – Week #8 of 51

Wowee! It’s already WEEK 8 (only 44 WEEKS ’til TAF)! Thanks, Kevin Lee, for sharing your inspiring personal thoughts and applications on LOVING OUT LOUD:

LOL. Love Out Loud.


It’s really hard for me to define love, to put it in words, but I think love –and this isn’t an exclusive rule—is, at a very fundamental level, founded upon memory. We know we love someone or something when we think about the good things that happened to us in our past. I know I love her because I’m just so happy and relaxed when I see her smile, or how everything around me just disappears when I look into her eyes. You know just how safe and warm it feel when you’re in one of his hugs, and that nothing else matters when he talks. The smell of mother’s cooking, the laughter when your best friend cracks a joke, the games you play with your brother. You know love because you remember what it feels to love and be loved.

For example; I remember the exact moment when I realized that TAF was like a second home, that I truly loved TAF. It was the Tuesday night of TAF’09; my first year as a TAFer, and my first year as a counselor. The PD’s had decided to show Minority Report because it addressed issues regarding Ethics and Values, and it just so happened that my co-counselor, Jessica Shen, and I had watched the movie before and knew it pretty well without having to re-watch it. Instead, we both decided it was a good time to write our campers’ their daily letters.

Now Minority Report is not your typical happy, cheerful Disney movie; it has some pretty freaky moments and it just so happened that the movie time coincided with a pretty brutal thunderstorm. The combination of Tom Cruise and the crack of thunder was scary enough to send six of the JH girls out to the Upper Union balcony with Jessica and me. We busted open the biggest bag of Skittles and the eight of us just hung out, messed around, and wrote. Now I love writing; I try to write every day, but to this day; those letters were by far the most fun I’ve ever had writing. Someway, somehow, Jessica and I decided that it was a good idea to co-write the letters together, I would write two, three lines, pass it on to her for her to read, she would write and then pass it back to me. We kept poking fun at each other, making fun of the campers and ourselves, we connected not only ourselves, but with Kevin, Willy, Tiffany, Ellery, Dorothy, Ada and Reggie.

To be honest, it’s a pretty plain moment; and there’s only one reason I why I truly remember it so vividly, but today I can confidently say that Jessica Shen is one of my closest friends; I can trust her with anything and everything, and I turn to her whenever I need to and she’s always there. If she hasn’t heard from me in a span of 30 days, she should fear for the worst. I truly love Jessica, and I will always remember that one small moment we had together.

But my most vivid memory occurred when I was seven years old. It was autumn and my brother and I were talking in this play room/study adjacent to our living room. The living room doesn’t have a door that closes on the study, instead it’s just an open arch and in that study, we have ceiling to floor sliding doors that lead out to the backyard, which had this big Oak tree filled with yellow leaves. The wind was really strong that day, so it blew a sea of yellow over the entire backyard; our pool was blanketed with yellow and the sky behind everything was covered; it was really, really beautiful.

My brother and I started talking, and apparently our mother – she was watching TV in the living room – overheard and decided to turn off the TV. That’s all I really remember because from then on, I just started watching the leaves, and instead of listening to her, I listened to the whispers of the wind through the leaves. I didn’t need to listen to her, because deep down I had already known that my father had been gone for 3 years. Telling a four and three year old that their father had passed is pretty hard for a lot of reasons; but telling a seven and six year old isn’t much easier.

Honestly, I don’t remember too much about my father. I remember playing with him and my brother on these stairways right at the lobby of this restaurant in Asia, and sitting next to him on Autopia; but that’s it. I don’t even know if I could point him out in a group of 20 people; and if I did, it certainly would take longer than the average son. It doesn’t matter though, because I remember, and I will always love him.

I’ll close with this: I think TAFers are amazing. We have the strength and heart to do so much, and we’re so dedicated to everything we love, but I sometimes think we forget to show our love to our parents, and they sometimes forget to reciprocate. A lot of it happens to deal with memory; there are so many memories we have with our parents and kids that we never take to reflect just how special they are until it’s too late. I know TAF is ending when parents come, because that’s when I begin to see the struggles. The struggles in communication, the hardship on balancing cultural differences, and pain of false futility in parents and their children… but I also see the love, the heart, the caring that’s hidden, squealing quietly behind the lion’s roar of love that was shown that week.

To be fair, I’ve never said “I love you” to either of my parents neither, to my mother who’s done such a good job raising me and my brother by herself the last 16 years of my life, to my father before I could put love to words. I haven’t until today. I love my parents and I would be nowhere without them.

After this week, there’s only 40 or so weeks left before TAF, and it’s also just another week in the year; it’s not Father’s Day, it’s not Mother’s Day. It’s just another day; which is why it’s perfect to just go out and hug your parents, to tell them that you love them, to spend time with them. It’s perfect because it’s just another memory, and hopefully it’s one you’ll never forget it.

We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both!

Sign up to post here!

TAF Real World – Week #7 of 51

Oh hey! Shawn shares his infinite playlist and composed a couple creative writing pieces, loudly sending YOU some love from STL during WEEK 7 (or 45 WEEKS ’til TAF!):

So this one day I was walking around North Manchester, Indiana, and all of a sudden, I see Katy Perry! And I’m all like, “OMGGGGGGGGGGG, I’M SO IN LOVE!!!!” But I didn’t want to scare her off because she was all like hot, and then I was all cold. Unsure of myself, I took a chance and didn’t ever look back. As I walked up to get her autograph, it was like I was living in a teenage dream. As she signed her autograph, she was all like “I kissed a TAFer and I liked it”. And I said, “Ehhh, hanky panky isn’t allowed at TAF”. So then she got angry, and kept repeating, “California girls, we’re unforgettable”. So I was like “Pshhh, forget you, STL all the way”. So as I walked further and further away I swear I heard “California girls” change to tik tok. Strange.

A short while later, I walk up to this club and ask the bouncer, “Hey you wanna have a slumber party in my basement?” and he’s like, “Sure!!!!!!” and then he lets me in to the club with all my favorite brands and then I’m all like blowing my speakers up that night, and brushing my teeth with a bottle of TAF, cuz when I leave for the Tea House informal dance, I don’t normally get back till past curfew. At the dance, there was this new TAFer, so I introduced myself and all I could hear her say was, “Blah blah blah”. I told her we were better together and that I was hers.

We became TC’s, and I was feeling like the world’s greatest who was forever young, but I was caught in a bad romance =. She was all like, “Wooahhh oh woahhh oh woahhhhhh oh woahhh oh ohhhhhhhhhh”. And I was like, “Dudette… just dance (forever), it’ll be ok”. But then she cried out “Alejandro, Alejandro… don’t call my name”. And I was like TAKEN ABACK because my name isn’t Alejandro. At this point, I felt like I just got to Hollywood from Nashville… but then a Britney Spears and/or Jay-Z song was playing and then these random butterflies flew out the club. Towards the end of the dance, we all had our hands up in the air.

My TC of an hour or so and I were on a battlefield of love. Baby cupid had definitely sent some arrows from above when I suggested we begin an uphill battle. We started hiking up the stairs towards the upper union, when I reminded her, “It isn’t always about what’s on the other side, it’s the climb”. As we continued the long trek up the stairs, she asked me if I remembered all of the times we had, but I had no idea what she was talking about, so she dumped me =[. And she was like, “Bye, Fernando, I love the way you lie”. So at that time I felt shot right through with a bolt of blue, like a smurf crying, “You belong with me”. I lost my TC of an hour, so I was like living in misery :'(, and there was absolutely no one who could comfort me….except the un1smurfs, TAF, TAFers, and TAFL♥ve.

-The End-

You know you’re Taiwanese when…
– You’ve worn all and only TAF or TaiwaneseAmerican.org shirts to school
– Almost everyone in your class knows you’re Taiwanese and NOT Chinese
– More people know your middle name (Formosa) than your real name (undisclosed)
– You only know TAIWANESE
– All of your college apps, and even school papers are about TAF
– The first thing your parents ask you is if you’ve eaten enough
– You bust out in Taiwanese during a French (or any other language) speaking exercise
– Your car is a tan Toyota Camry (sorry Nissan Altima and Honda Accord)
– You play the violin and/or the piano
– You and/or your parents have trouble keeping an inside voice while on the phone
– “Chinese Taipei” or “Republic of China” makes you crazy
– You enjoy eating tapioca balls
– You know who Leehom and Machi didi are
– Your pictures have at least one person showing a peace sign
– You exclaim “Aiya”
– Your AP BIO class nominates you for homecoming court
– All your friends know YOU GO TO TAF


We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both!

We need a few more volunteers to post, so please LOL and sign up here!

Encourage your friends to sign up. Feel free to buddy up and post together.

Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet. We’ll even send you an email a week in advance to remind you. 🙂

TAF Real World – Week #6 of 51

Amy shares an LOL story for WEEK 6 (or 46 WEEKS ’til TAF):

This is my dad, CC Liao, and his best friend, CC Huang. They met in college in Taichung over 40 years ago.

They studied chemistry and graduated together.

They don’t know how to smile in photos together.

They immigrated to North America together. Their kids are almost the same ages, with almost exactly the same birthdays.

They toured Brazil together and were in the same bus accident. Once Uncle CC recovered from broken ribs, he helped my family take care of my dad recover from his more intense injuries.

They had a 60th birthday party together.

Yesterday, Uncle CC woke up at 5 a.m. to drive me to the airport. He and his wife are always there to support!

There are sooo many people, like Uncle CC, who LOVE my family OUT LOUD daily. I wish I could blog about AV8D. Instead, I will just say duhh-shiaaahh (thanks!) here to the extended family, and the rest of the daiwan community who take care of my parents, so that I can be released to LOL the world.

We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both!

We need a few more volunteers to post, so please LOL and sign up here!

Encourage your friends to sign up. Feel free to buddy up and post together.

Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.

TAF Real World – Week #5 of 51

Here are Tiffany’s reflections for WEEK 5 (or 47 WEEKS ’til TAF)!

Just Love

As I boarded the Detroit bus, I can definitely say that I was excited to pass the seemingly endless cornfields to arrive at TAF 2010.

But let’s cut to the chase. Though I was enthusiastic to return to one of the best places on earth, I walked into Helman uncertain of how I was going to approach the upcoming week. Sure, I was going to “grow as a person”, “grow as a leader,” and “pour love out to others and refill my cup of loving.” This all seems so cliche now; they’ve become standard goals for all TAFers, goals that are developed through years of attending TAF. With that said, what was I specifically going to do to make this year as special and unique as my past five?

It turns out that the question above became the question I asked myself every day. Even to this day, I believe that I didn’t put in the effort to make something out of this once-a-year week. Of course, I always hoped I would, but wishing for something doesn’t get anyone anywhere until they actually press the pedal and initiate it. Oddly enough, pre-TAF Coordinator reflections only confused me even more. I even had to ask Alex, the Coorindators’-Coordinator, to send me my sTAFf application to remind myself of what my goals were. Even though I had written legitimate goals, I found myself unable to fulfill them throughout the week.

It basically came down to this: My ultimate goal in everyday life is to “bind the brokenhearted, (Isaiah 61:1)” which is all about loving. Humbling and lowering myself to where I can let myself be vulnerable. And do you know how I epically failed at doing that this year at TAF? I got distracted. I was distracted by the most petty things, and I completely compromised myself and my intentions for these silly, unimportant things. Frustration came over me so much and so early on, I closed up and isolated myself. Literally. I separated myself from my friends, didn’t retain communication with new campers, skimped out on socializing during free time (aka hid in my room or in tafLabs, which, by the way, has absolutely remarkable food), hardly spoke to my tafCrush, and didn’t even get to see Youth limbo at the Luau. Boo. 🙁

So instead of loving, I closed myself off from being loved. I know there was a lot of love to be received, and just as much love to be given. Now, sitting here at my computer, I look back at July 25th to August 1st as a week when I missed the golden opportunities to carry out my goals. I missed out on so much, and it stinks. Big time.

This is me being blunt; almost too brutally genuine even for me to type this. But I’m going to keep it real here.

On the last Sunday at noon, I walked out of Wampler after Service feeling like a complete failure. I broke down in front of everyone there (including one of my advisors, my mother, several Old Fries, parents I did and didn’t know, and friends) as I stood and gave my testimonial: a shortened, general, and assuredly more emotional version of everything I said above. I felt neglected this year at TAF, but I know that is because I neglected my TAFers and even myself. Had I done the opposite, I wouldn’t be telling this story. Once I got outside, a Junior camper who I know from home ran up to hug me. By that point, the flow of tears were unstoppable. Amazing. All I had to do was open up, and voila, there was love.

I’m trying not to regret my actions from TAF 2010. All there is to do is not repeat this ever again.

This is what I know from my experience, and I hope you grasp the message I’m trying to share with you: Open up. Don’t isolate yourself — you’ll miss out on too much, and it’s certainly not worth the reason(s) you cut yourself off for in the first place. In fact, you may find that with allowing yourself to be vulnerable, healing and peace will come to you. Let yourself be loved. With that, you will be able to sincerely love out loud. 🙂

With much love,

Tiffany Su

We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both!

We need a few more volunteers to post, so please LOL and sign up here!

Encourage your friends to sign up. Feel free to buddy up and post together.

Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.

TAF Real World – Week #4 of 51

It’s story time with Liz for WEEK 4 (or 48 WEEKS ’til TAF!)

Put on your PJs and bring your teddy bear…

We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both!

We need a few more volunteers to post, so please LOL and sign up here!

Encourage your friends to sign up. Feel free to buddy up and post together.

Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.



Youth Choir – Across the Universe by The Beatles

JH Choir – Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson

Juniors Choir – Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

TAF Real World – Week #3 of 51

Sherry dances with love during WEEK 3 (or 49 WEEKS ’til TAF):

Honk! I Will Dance.

Hey TAF!

This is Sherry Lin here (a JR counselor this past year at TAF for those that don’t know me). For this week’s Love Out Loud post, I wanted do something to put smiles on people’s faces after a long day of classes or work by dancing in the streets of Chicago! I got the idea from Jaeson Ma’s “365 Days of Love” Project. I thought this would be a great way to make people smile. So, I grabbed a bunch of my friends (some Tafers, some not) to do this with me. Hope you enjoy the video (edited by Andrew Lo, thanks!) and keep spreading the looooove!

Untitled from Andrew Lo on Vimeo.

Location: intersection of State and Wacker, Chicago.
Special thanks to Andrew Lo, Bettina Chang, Kevin Chen, Jireh Pua, Elaine Pua, Eshan Pua, David Chang, Peter Tan, Shirley Yang, Vivian Moy, Vanessa Moy
We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD! Whether it’s how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you, or maybe even both! If you didn’t sign up for a week for the TAF Blog to post your entry during TAF2010, please sign up here!

Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.

TAF 2010 PHOTOS!!!!

As a whole, tafLabs collected over TEN THOUSAND PHOTOS during this year’s TAF – holy moly! So we’re very excited and happy like Melody to finally share many more photos captured during TAF2010 with all of you!

Thankfully, we’ve whittled that number down to a nice and tidy 480 photos for now. You’ve seen about half of them before. Some of these pics are edited, some are not, many are touching, too few are embarrassing, but all of them are meant to preserve the memories of Loving Out Loud at TAF2010. So if you saw a picture of you and your friends that you liked in the Yearbook or Slideshow, you can right-click and save the photo! And better yet, the images are sized to a resolution of 1600, perfect for new desktop wallpapers! Our suggestion is to view them using the “View with PicLens” just above the start of these thumbnails and using your arrow keys to flip through this epic gallery. WOOSHA!

[nggallery id=1]

Keep checking back as we hope to add more photos, including small groups!

Photo Credits: Anna Wu, Steve Wang, Andrew Kuo, Tiffany Su, Justin Ku, Dave Chiou, Spencer Chen, Dan Lu, Howard Chen, Andrew Lo, Kevin Yau, Jon Lee