TAF Real World – Week #2 of 51

We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD, how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you.
If you didn’t sign up for a week at TAF2010, please sign up here!
Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.

Jeff blogs on WEEK 2 (or 50 WEEKS ’til TAF):

TAF 2010. Two weeks ago, I was still very much the awkward, shy, and skinny kid who entered Helman three years back. I still hated looking silly or vulnerable and I was still terribly scared of large groups of people. Two weeks ago, I was a JH counselor. Counselor. Facilitator. Initiator. Come on. None of these are appropriate descriptors for me, and that week, unfortunately, I let that same negative sentiment linger in my head.

I could not communicate at all at TAF. Sometimes during staff meetings I found it so hard to verbalize what I wanted to say that I ended up just keeping quiet. Sometimes as we sat down as a small group to discuss and share, I gazed around blankly at the attentive faces waiting for me to initiate dialogue, and I honestly had no idea what to say. Perhaps it was a result of the lack of sleep, mental unpreparedness, or some kind of psychological disease/phenomena, but I now know that for the most part, the reason I couldn’t adequately communicate that week was because I feared judgment. I was afraid of looking stupid and of somehow tarnishing the image I wanted to project of myself. I was scared to death of disapproval and rejection. Despite this, I knew- knew in my head- that regardless, there were people like the JH staff who would understand, support, and encourage— if only I told them. I faltered, even there, and looking back, I wish that I had shared my problem with someone. At the time, though, thoughts about the apparent silliness of the problem discouraged me from talking about it, so I kept silent.

On Monday, there was a girl who came to yoyos workshop looking bored. Knowing that there were no more yoyos left to use, I sat down. “What’s up? Are you here to learn yoyo? Have you
done yoyo before?” Her eyes looked up, made a quick mental calculation, and she shook her head. Inside my head, I kicked myself– Oh, God, here we go again. What a buffoon I am. I
look like I’m feeling sorry for her. Way to be a condescending counselor. Tactical fail. I tried again
—“Going to be in eighth grade next year? Are you ready?” What a generic question. What
if she’s not? What’ll I ask next?
She looked up again, shook her head, and spoke—“Can I go to the folk dance workshop?” I was flabbergasted. Open-mouthed, I consented in a voice that
sounded very far away, leaving me stupidly sitting and twiddling a pair of yoyo sticks I had been trying to fix.

All week long at TAF I let little things bother me. It irked me that I’d lost one of the campers so early on. It irked me that I couldn’t be as witty as I’d liked to be. It irked me that I couldn’t contribute meaningfully to staff meetings. It irked me also that I hadn’t brought enough shirts for the ~8 days at TAF. All around in my head, irksome thoughts bounced, slowly battering away at the confidence that remained. The less confident I was, the less able I was to communicate. Sometimes I couldn’t stand it. I would retreat away from everything and preoccupy myself with wild questions of why I couldn’t simply speak.

On Wednesday night I met up with one of the campers. It wasn’t even a conversation I’d headed
deliberately into. I was caught completely unprepared, initially swamped with thoughts about
how small group had gone and about how to do laundry at TAF. I didn’t expect the campers
in JH to have yet experienced life crises or anything like that; after all, this was JH– fun and
games JH. JH we feel good, oh we feel so good JH. That perspective was instantly shattered as
I listened to the camper talk about family problems, about moving, and about being new and
unaccepted. About only being able to disclose thoughts onto pad and paper and about depressive
thoughts of rejection and of not having anybody to confide in for support and encouragement.

Somehow, right then, my heart broke for this camper and for JH. The problems people as young as JH’ers experience are real, life-size, and life-changing. TAF is not just a weeklong fun and games camp– it’s also a sanctuary for healing and affirmation. To some degree, everyone has a need for both of those.

When the camper finished talking, I was dazed. I didn’t know what to say. I floundered for words and babbled something about life and unfairness, but the camper stopped me. “Jeff. I know you’re trying somehow to comfort or advise me, but let me tell you—it’s okay. As long as you’re here to even listen to me talk about my problems, it’s enough. ‘Cause no one else will.” The words slowly permeated into my head like the endless swirls in the table I was peering into.

I nodded slowly, not because I was excusing my own inadequacies as a friend, but because then I understood: it doesn’t matter how quick-witted, insightful, or articulate you are as a communicator— what really matters is the heart that fills the communicative vessel. Is it filled with love and genuine care? Does it care enough to set aside personal wants and standards to meet the needs of others? Does it care enough to stop loving itself so to love others?

Because when it does, wonderful, amazing things happen.
That week, I learned once again how to love.


How are your ears? Are they bored from a strange lack of small group chatter and chants? Or are they depressed due to TAF Blues? Maybe just tired from a sleepless week? Or worried with back to school season in full swing? Well don’t fret, because the TAF Blog has a cure for you!

Not one, not two, but THREE TAF Music pieces are available for you to listen to all day long to bring back all the TAF memories! Sing along to Viva Love Forever, memorize all the TAF Rules, and learn all the moves to the JH Swing Choir! All for the low low price of 4 easy installments of….FREE!!!

(to download, Right-click and “save file as” or “save link as” or “download link as” or…yea)

1. TAF Rules
2. Viva Love Forever 2010
3. JH: Better Than YOUth
4. Youth: Pretty Girl Swag
5. Youth: Got More Swag
6. Juniors: The Rise and Fall of D & K

(PS: In case you forgot, click here to download the live version of Viva Love Forever from TAF Night 2009!)

TAF Real World – Week #1 of 51

Oh hey! Did you know that the TAF Vision is for TAFers to “to make a profound impact on mankind in unique and compassionate ways”?

We at TAFLabs want to know how YOU are making an impact this year in your life beyond Manchester. Our goal is for TAFers to post on the blog at least once per week. We want to hear/see/read/experience your thoughts on LOVING OUT LOUD, how you showed love to someone, or how someone loved on you.

If you didn’t sign up for a week at TAF, please sign up here: Sign up!
Instructions are listed on the spreadsheet.

Here is Andrew kickin’ it off with WEEK 1 (or 51 WEEKS ’til TAF):


With this year being TAF’s 30th birthday celebration, tafLabs and tafMedia created this retrospective piece to commemorate and preserve TAF’s history and development from the early 1980’s till now. While we have all grown and evolved thanks to TAF, TAF itself has grown and changed with us, and its just good to know where it all started from.

Special thanks go out to Anna Wu and Ho Chie Tsai for putting this together, Dan Lu for assisting in research, all of our interviewees, and of course, every single person who has come to, visited, and enjoyed TAF.

TAF has a rich history and there are many more stories like this to share. Maybe someday we can get to more of them, but this will do for now. A great thirty years have gone by, which in reality has only been thirty weeks. Looking forward to the next thirty. TAFLove to all, past, present, and future 🙂


The campers are still all awake, and TAF Night only ended just a few hours ago, but here for your viewing pleasure is the TAF2010 Slideshow!

Credits: Tiffany Su, Justin Ku, Andrew Kuo, Steve Wang, & the rest of the tafLabs and tafMedia team.

1. Viva Love Forever – Mashup by Jeremy Chen & Andrew Lo. Original songs by Coldplay, New Order, & Alphaville.
2. Mind Heist – Zack Hemsey, from “Inception.”
3. All We Are – Matt Nathanson
4. Kings & Queens – 30 Seconds to Mars
5. Do You Remember – Jay Sean, feat. Sean Paul & Lil John

We’ve had an amazing week with everyone, and have much more video footage to come so keep staying tuned! Just because we’re all leaving Manchester College for another year in a few hours doesn’t mean the TAF spirit is over as well. TAFLOVE 365 y’all!

Send TAF a Happy 30th Birthday video!

As you may know by now, this year is TAF’s 30th birthday! Even though you may not be at TAF right now, help us celebrate by sending us a short video telling us who you are, what years you went to TAF, and some quick birthday wishes and we’ll feature them on the blog!

You can upload them to your own account or ours on youtube:

user: tafshare
password: what the “t” in taf stands for!

Email us at tafhelp@tafworld.org.

UPDATE: A post-TAF happy birthday video from “the original” Alex Yang!

Oh Hey!

TAF2010: Daily Recap MONDAY

Newsletter coordinators Nicole Hsieh and Erica Lee give us an preview of things to come from North Manchester, Indiana!

And here we go!

Today TAFers studied the different classes and species of the animal kingdom, as well as observed animal attitudes and behaviors. Results may or may not be published in Nature sometime in the future.

They also learned that Force = mass x acceleration. See parents! We DO teach math here at TAF!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Nick and Victor meet for the first time at Sunday dinner after a year of separation.

Communication skills: