TAF Real World – Week #21 of 51

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays TAFers! Can you believe it’s been 21 weeks since TAF and that it’s already Christmas? I hope you all got what you wanted for Christmas this year and that you were all nice this year! Hopefully you are all enjoying your breaks for the holidays from school or work and are spending some quality time with your families and your friends! This is one of my most favorite times of the year because I get to spend a lot of time with my family. Christmas, and well, most of the Holidays was the time where all of my family in the Chicago area got together and celebrated the holidays together. Back then there were always so many of us in the area because it was all before most of us started growing up but as the years went on, we slowly began to spread around the country. Although we’re not all just in the Chicago area anymore like we used to be, the time we get to spend together is all the more special. We all come into the Chicago area from different parts of the country now just so we can spend time with each other, re-live past memories of being together and to of course make new memories with each other. It’s amazing to have seen how the last 19 years of my life have gone by so fast! I went from being the youngest cousin in my generation to now being called uncle by many of my cousins’ children. It’s been awesome seeing how I got to celebrate the Holiday and Christmas spirit with the family back when I was a kid and how I do it now, to already see the next generation already celebrating it with us. I feel like I’ve been really lucky to have been able to celebrate the holidays like this with my family because not everyone does it the same, and it makes the experience all the more special. There are some things that I feel is the same for the holiday experience for everyone though, and that’s the feeling of the holiday spirit, which I feel is the unconditional love you feel for those around you. It’s really the time of the year every year that you truly Love Out Loud! So make some life long memories with your family and Love out Loud with them!

(Some of my family last year when we went out to eat. It’s hard to find big family pictures that are digital!)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

P.S. – Don’t forget that TAF is 30 weeks away and TAF New Years is ONE WEEK AWAY! If you’re able to go, don’t forget to RSVP and hopefully I’ll see you there next week! Go! Really! It’s a lot of fun! Seriously! You get to see lots of TAFers and you get to have a lot of fun! The time you spend with TAFers is like the time you spend with your family! It might not be as long as the time you spend with your family, but you definitely feel the love and you feel like they’re your family too! Seriously, people are actually coming into Chicago just for TAF New Years! Just to spend time with
TAFers! So if you guys can go to TAF New Years, I highly recommend it!

(TAF New Years 2009! Lots of people! Go this year!)

P.P.S. – Michael Hsu and Kevin Hsia, I miss you guys! It’s weird you guys aren’t here for TAF New Years and crashing at my place. I miss everyone else too! Hopefully see you all soon or at TAF 2011!

TAF Real World – Week #20 of 51

Here’s Dan, the TAF historian, with a little bit of a TAF time capsule piece. Don’t forget to RSVP for TAF New Year’s! (2 weeks left!) and 31 weeks until TAF 2011!

Wow, 20 weeks since TAF and we’re well into the holiday season. Part of me is still wondering what happened to November, but I’m getting into the spirit of things – and not just because I’ve been spending too much time looking at Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other Christmas shopping deals. We’re into the Christmas/holiday (or other reason to) party season the last couple of weeks, which has been a time of good food/drinks, and just generally getting to spend time having fun with friends/family/co-workers/random strangers, etc…

Its nice to see the way people are during the holiday season – even among people who are busy shopping and running errands. A couple of Saturdays ago, TAF Chicago spent a few hours volunteering as Salvation Army bell ringers again. And although (once again) the weather was somewhat less than cooperative (cold + snowing), it was worth the time — not only for the money that we collected, but for the good cheer and smiles on the faces of the people who were dropping money into our buckets. (Plus its always nice to spend time with my TAF Chicago family!)

Another thing I’ve been doing recently is helping my folks who have been preparing to move out of the house they’ve lived in for most of my lifetime. Much of what I’ve been helping with is sorting through (and either rescuing, recycling/donating or discarding) stuff that has been in storage in their basement (and stuff still in my sister’s and my old bedrooms). Besides all the old magazines, school books, papers, etc to be recycled (or shredded and recycled), and old games and toys (donated/given away or discarded — depending on condition), there have been quite a lot of boxes full of TAF-related stuff — which have been kinda fun and really nostalgic to go through before shredding. (partially kidding — there were a lot of printouts of registration lists and stuff that was shredded and recycled, but I brought all the letters/cards/photos and stuff that I found back to my little condo, where they are now sitting in boxes and bags all over the place). Seeing all of these things and going though (some of) them has been a visceral reminder of just how important TAF has been to me over the years, and how much TAFers have meant in my life.

Anyway, since I’m already late on this, I’ll end this here. I leave you with one of the things I came across: a poem that our hospitality coordinators distributed on the last day of TAF one year – a long, long time ago…

Bits and pieces
Bits and pieces

People. People important to you, People unimportant to you cross your life, touch it with love and carelessness and move on. There are people who leave you and you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you ever came into contact with them. There are people who leave you, and you breathe a sigh of remorse and wonder why they had to go away and leave such a gaping hole. Children leave parents, friends leave friends. Acquaintances move on. People change homes. People grow apart. Enemies hate and move on. Friends love and move on. You think on the many people who have moved into your hazy memory. You look at those present and wonder.

I believe in God’s master plan in lives. He moves people in and out of each other’s lives, and each leaves his mark on the other. You find you are made up of bits and pieces of all who have ever touched your life, and you are more because of them, and you would be less if they had not touched you.

Pray God that you accept the bits and pieces in humility and wonder,
and never question,
and never regret.

Bits and pieces
Bits and pieces

Have a very merry Christmas and hope to see you all at TAF New Years!

TAF Real World – Week #17 of 51

Gobble, gobble and Happy Thanksgiving TAFers! It’s Chikuan, your trusted PA from TAF!! We are in week 17 and that means, hopefully, a short 34 more weeks until TAF ’11! It’s Thanksgiving, so not only am I going to tell you what I’ve been up to but also what I am thankful for.

To be 100% honest, when I was asked to do this blog post, I was very nervous because I’ve never felt like I express myself the best through words but here we go :). So since TAF, my “real life” much like some of the other posts has been very TAF-oriented. Being a part of TAF Chicago has blessed me with being able to see TAFers pretty much all year round. Much love to group #2 DDSB(Deep Dish Silver Beans)!! Aside from my regular 40hr work week, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to plan for TAF Chicago events, share birthdays, share a wedding and everything else in between with TAFers.

Do I do anything in “real life” that doesn’t revolve around TAF? Of course I do! Didn’t I mention I work too? Jk 🙂 Aside from all that, I’ve been doing a little traveling to Columbus, Denver & Los Angeles. I’ve been playing some sports in kickball, softball & basketball. I’ve also been doing things anyone else would in hanging out with friends, playing video games and cat napping :). All in all what I do is probably not too different from probably a lot of you. Well, maybe you all don’t call it cat napping :).

So it is Thanksgiving and much like the tradition, I am going to tell you what I am thankful for. I am thankful for my family first and foremost, because they have always been there for me whether I am up or I am down. They have been there to support me when I’ve needed someone the most and have been very forgiving of me for my many faults. They have also been very encouraging of me during my life’s journey and all ventures I’ve pursued. I am also thankful for my friends who I share many of my adventures with, whether it just be hanging out or traveling to things such as Ohio State games. They make everything more fun and accept me for me :). Last and definitely not least, I am thankful for TAFers which I consider a part of my family and my friends. I’ve always considered TAFers to be an extension of my family just because I feel loved and accepted no matter what. They support me in such things as what goes on at TAF and in TAF Chicago as well, and of course I can spend time with them without feeling like I have to put on a mask over who I am. In my eyes, TAFers are pretty much my family except we aren’t related. So, many thanks to you TAFers and people from TAF Chicago that keeps TAF going for me all year round. I am a part of DDSB at TAF Chicago, but here is my real small group :).

Happy Thanksgiving TAFers! LOL!


P.S. – To my Michigan TAFers… OSU – 31 UM – 10 😉

Does Chikuan know that half of TAFLabs are Wolverine fans? We got some serious sibling rivalry here. Get it? Siblings. Family. TAF. Yeah!
Anyway, we would love to hear about how loving out loud is making a difference in your life. There are still slots with no volunteers, especially the week of December 5th. Don’t break the chain! Sign up HERE, encourage your friends to sign up, or sign up together!

TAF Real World – Week #16 of 51


I can’t believe we’re on week #16- does that mean it’s been four months since TAF? YIKES.
I guess that means we are all pretty much back into the swing of our “regular” lives. I’m happy to say that my “regular” (well… as regular as it gets) life includes a good chunk of TAF. TAF Chicago has provided us TAFers with a way to meet on a monthly basis and keep all the love alive. This past month, we hosted a Taffoween extravaganza, complete with costumes and pumpkin carving. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to celebrate Halloween with other TAFers?

I’ve gotta say, I’m loving the new TAF Chicago format where we have small groups so we can chat about speaker sessions and plot to sabotage the other groups. Shout-out to CTA (Creepy TAFers Anonymous) – we’re gearing up for a fun volunteer activity next month, ringing the Salvation Army bell and singing holiday carols loudly and obnoxiously.

I’d also like to take the time to share with you guys how I LOL during my time away from TAF. I work at a student-run nonprofit organization called Supplies for Dreams (www.suppliesfordreams.org). I’ve always been really interested in helping to fix the inequality in our country’s public education system. I grew up in a nice suburb of Chicago with a great public school. I was so surprised to find out that only 10 miles away there are kids who go to public schools that haven’t purchased new textbooks in 10 years or don’t have enough money to sponsor after-school sports or tutoring programs. This is a huge problem for our country and I think it’s all of our responsibility to do something about it.

If you want to hear more about the education crisis, check out the new documentary “Waiting for Superman,” which got a lot of publicity this fall. It even got an animated news clip in the Taiwanese news!

Supplies for Dreams was founded by two high school students in Chicago suburbs, just like me, who were glad to get a great public education but knew that others are not so fortunate. They are now students at Northwestern with me, and we are doing our best to make an impact by donating school supplies and providing mentoring services for Chicago Public School students who are in need.

Here are some reasons I think Supplies for Dreams is a great inspiration to all of us:

1) It was created by two high school students- they were 17 and 18 years old at the time!
2) Three years after it was created, we are serving over 1000 students and we donated 1000 backpacks to students just this past year.
3) Because it is a small operation, we are able to connect our donors directly to the kids and make everyone feel better about the whole operation. We can also keep track of the kids to make sure they are getting the most benefit from our supplies and mentors.
4) It’s a lot of fun. Of course. I made them all play “bunny bunny” on orientation day.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you guys because I don’t want you to feel like you have to wait until you’re old and rich to make a difference. We all have a lot of skills and resources that we can use to help others, and it can all start with the smallest gesture – like donating a pencil or notebook!

Check out this video to find out how.

Or if you can’t see that link, check out the video on Youtube!

Don’t forget that when you LOL, it brings us all a little closer to TAF’s vision statement:
“For people of Taiwanese heritage to make a profound impact on mankind in unique and compassionate ways.”


We would love to hear about how loving out loud is making a difference in your life. Only 35 weeks until TAF 2011! There are still 12 slots with no volunteers. Don’t break the chain! Sign up HERE, encourage your friends to sign up, or sign up together!

TAF Real World – Week #15 of 51

If you’ve ever been to NYC, you’ll notice that the people there walk fast! Here’s Godwin repping the Easy Coast with a whirlwind tour of TAFGlobal for WEEK 15 (or 36 more weeks ’til TAF!)

Microphone testing 1, 2, 3! In the place to be. My name is Godwin Chen and I will be writing for you today, but first and foremost I will tell you how to make ONE MILLION MEMORIES. So simple, you will be like “Wow, I don’t believe!” Well, actually, I can’t believe it’s already been 5 fast years since my first year at TAF. As I look back I’m amazed by all the wonderful people that I’ve met as a result of a single decision to travel to Manchester, Indiana. I remember coming back home after the first year and getting hit with the tafBlues HAAARD, but I don’t really experience that anymore because now I’m living TAF year-round here in New York. Shout out to the tafNYC crew! The network of TAFers throughout the US is amazing. Every time someone from out of town comes to visit, all these old friends come out of the woodwork for sightseeing and meals. Here we were last month at Hill Country when Anna was in town!

Whenever I travel to other cities I always have friends to crash with. Last time I visited Howard and Jason in DC, guess who we met? Comedian Charlene Yi! In case you don’t already know, Howard moved “down unda” to the land of kangaroos and Crocodile Dundee, so now we’re
international! If you haven’t read his blog yet you should definitely check it out. His decision to pack up his life and reach for his dreams is really inspiring. Check it out here.

Another thing I love is being to keep in touch with campers, even if we’re far away. Two years ago, my small group didn’t have enough campers for our family group pairings. Boryan looked super cool with his flowy hair so I asked if I could be his big sib, here we are playing tank and

His directions were immaculate! But the best part is that we keep in touch to this day, it really warms my heart. Guess how we keep in touch! OH YEAH…

Well TAFers, I really don’t know what else to say. I know it’s not that easy to see your friends from far away, especially when you’re living under the same roof as your parents, but years later in college and beyond you’ll realize that while you were having fun at TAF, you were also
building a foundation for years to come. One day you might find yourself climbing a peak in Costa Rica or having a deep conversation with a friend in Penn Station, all thanks to this great organization called the Taiwanese American Foundation.

Spot the TAFers hiking in Nevada! Mwa, love you all.

Oh hey! Thanks to all who have contributed to this weekly LOL blog so far. We’ve gotten lots of positive feedback, and you are making TAF history! There are a few empty slots left. If you’re hesitating to post, we would love to hear about how loving out loud is making a difference in your life. Don’t be shy! Please sign up HERE and encourage your friends to participate.

TAF Real World – Week #14 of 51

So while I’m not entirely sure that I’m actually posting in week #14, here goes my entry anyway.

When Amy Liao proposed this idea back during the week of TAF, I immediately loved it. It’s a great way to keep fresh content on the blog, people coming back regularly, and keeps up the TAF message year-round. I specifically picked this week because it coincides with the biggest event in my life so far: my wedding.

TAF is easily one of the most identifiable and influential periods of my life that has definitively helped to shape who I am. While the lessons and messages learned start to lump together after several years (I only really remember 2 distinct years of speakers. My first one in 98 where I first learned about languages of love, and Sunjay Nath in 2001 talking about Roots and Wings), the friends that I’ve made at TAF and hanging out with TAFers have been a permanent fixture.

All of that came together during my wedding to make an already incredibly special day for me and my now wife, more so, because we were able to share it with our closest family and friends. The support and love we felt from everyone, especially the TAFers, was energizing and overwhelming. Throughout the night of celebration, there were plenty of reminders of old memories, going back to the start of our friendships, to enjoying moment at hand.

But as much as it gave us joy to have our friends celebrating us and our wedding, Jenny and I got just as much, if not more, joy in bringing everyone together to have a great time. The sights of seeing people toasting, dancing, Cat rapping, playing dancing games, and taking crazy photobooth pictures totally affirmed the feelings and relationships that we have with our friends and family.

Thankfully, life will start to get back to normal in preparation for the honeymoon, and we can stop and take a breath. But we’re still basking in the tafLove of the day, 7 days later. Thank you, everyone! Thank you, TAF!

-Kevin Yau

Thanks, Joanna, for taking a cellphone picture and sending from the event! More pictures to come soon, if not already on facebook! 🙂

TAF Real World – Week #13 of 51

In case you’re all wondering, TAFLabs is not paying anyone to write these beautiful testimonials. Here’s Steph for WEEK 13 (or 38 weeks ’til TAF!) with a JH flashback and how TAF impacts her real world.

It’s currently 4:37 AM. And maybe it’s not the best idea to be writing my blog post in my current state of caffeine-induced delirium, but here it goes.

Here’s more context: I’m going on what feels like the hundredth hour of working on a proposal for my thesis that is worth 100 percent of my grade for the next two quarters. There is a giant pile of dirty laundry in the corner with a plate with remains from dinner perched precariously on top. The only clean surface in my whole room is the one I am currently sitting on and I can’t remember the last time I actually left my room. Needless to say, I’ve become a bit of a hermit over the past few days.

I just got to the point where I couldn’t read another word about legal claims and wanted to watch something short that would make me feel better. So of course, I turned to my facebook minifeed. Oddly enough, the JH staff video popped up and as I watched it, I thought back to my first year at TAF and the first JH swing choir I was in.

Back in 2001, my mom would always call me the “caboose of a train” because I never spoke and I always did whatever anyone told me to do. I was terrified of getting up in front of people and speaking. In fact, right before TAF that year, my parents made me attend a theater camp to try to make me open up. I only had to say one word in the end-of-camp show, but even that made me so nervous I threw up beforehand. So you can imagine how terrified I was when I found out I would be front and center for JH swing choir. I dreaded going up on that stage and dancing in front of everyone.

But those first few days gave me an experience I had never felt at other summer camps I’d gone to. Between the hip shong scavenger hunt where we all had to pretend to pick each other’s noses and finally getting the experience of having the older siblings I had always wanted (shout-outs to Tim Kuo and Jessica Fu), I gained feelings of comfort and inclusion that I had never felt before. The night of the Tea House brought these feelings to a whole new level. But rather than talk about that as my current 21-year-old self, I’ll let my 11-year-old self take it from here:
(taken from my diary) “Today we had a dance at TAF. I don’t know how to dance so I stayed in my room. But Annie (my counselor) came because she realized I wasn’t at the dance.

She asked if I was ok and asked if I wanted go dance with her. Annie’s super cool so I wanted to go but I’d never gone to a dance before so it was scary. But she pulled me to the dance floor to dance to Britney Spears and it was so much fun! And after we danced she gave me a hug and said she’d always be there to talk if I needed to talk. I didn’t know what to say to that. My parents haven’t said anything like that to me before. I don’t think I’ve ever even hugged my parents. So why does Annie care? Why does everyone at TAF seem to care? Do I finally actually belong somewhere?”

As an 11 year-old, that night made me realize the effect TAF had on me. It’s the same effect that drew me back to be a counselor after a 5-year hiatus. That was the night I first felt the TAF connection that I feel up to this day when I randomly meet up with TAFers on random trips, from Illinois to New York to Taiwan. Being part of that community gave me confidence in who I was and confidence to be more open. After TAF was over, I started trying out for roles in school plays, started opening up to my friends more, and started being more involved in extracurricular activities because I finally felt like I could. Every year I went back to TAF, I gained more confidence and a greater sense of who I was and that drove me to come back year after year.

By the end of that first week at TAF, everything that week came together and made me feel like all my fears were completely unjustified. I ended up going on stage with my hair in full mullet glory (apparently I thought it was a good look for me) and performing on stage as I had never done before. For once before I went on stage, I was excited. I didn’t feel like I had to throw up, I just felt like I was about to have a lot of fun.

I’ll turn back to my 11-year-old self to conclude:
(taken from a diary entry from the last day of TAF) “All the counselors told us they loved us today. I thought love was gross until now. It’s always been about boys and girls kissing to me. But now I know there’s different love. TAF love isn’t gross. I like TAF love. Everyone keeps saying it lasts forever. I hope it really does last forever.”

What’s YOUR fave JH flashback?
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!

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TAF Real World – Week #12 of 51

TAFers are so smart! Here’s Ryan. He gets an A+ in English for writing this sonnet. Note the 10-syllable lines and abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme! He also gets an A+ in math because he corrected our weekly countdown (we have been counting TAF week, which is incorrect). Well, here’s to WEEK 12!

With pending college apps, it’s hard to find time to do anything else. But out of remembrance of my first year of TAF and the hard TAF blues that followed, I wrote this sonnet to recognize a time in my life when someone showed me “Love Out Loud”.

As I walked down the empty, open walk;
the rain was drops of tears I could not cry.
I felt forgotten, but I feared to talk.
I swallowed sorrow, looking to the sky.

From which an angel came to show the way;
he whispered words that fed my appetite,
“Do not let your week end like this, today”.
I realized, then, I lost the point in sight.

TAF is a time that is defined by love;
the cameras only hope to capture this;
and if you look up to the stars above,
the rain drops change to never ending bliss.

So all you campers wishing on a star,
Remember, next year isn’t very far.

-Ryan Yang

P.S. 39 weeks to go guys =]

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TAF Real World – Week #11 of 51

Mic check. Check. Check out Veronica representin JH with some LOL floetry this WEEK #11 of TAF Real World (or 41 weeks ’til TAF!):

We live our lives everyday.
How we do so though,
is our choice.

You can make today the greatest day of your life.

Everyone has problems.
No doubt about that.
So why not make someone else’s life easier?
Show them that they aren’t alone,
that you care,
that nothing is unsolvable.
Be the best friend to them that you’ve always wanted or have.
Your problems might not be solved,
but you will feel happier.

I took the time and got to know someone better.
One of my goals was to look at everything as an opportunity.
I didn’t realize until later that I took a very great one.
It reiterated the fact that,
I should look at everything as an opportunity,
before I miss something I could’ve taken.
I would’ve never known that they could be so caring.
It was best decision I could ever make.

I took a leap of faith,
What did I receive in return?
I felt betrayed.
I had forgotten that people change.
It’s inevitable.
It was all I could think about.
I wondered how they could just do that to me.
Don’t dwell on something for too long.
It takes up your energy and fills up your time,
and in the end…
nothing has changed.
I decided to give them a second chance,
and I guess they really were sorry.

You are never alone.
You are loved.

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!

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TAF Real World – Week #10 of 51

This blog definitely makes the TAF countdown go so much faster! Here’s Andrea for WEEK 10 (or 42 weeks until TAF!) If you notice, she also invented a new TAFword. That’s TAFmarketing at it’s finest!

Hey there, TAFtastics! I’m Andrea, and for those of you campers who don’t know me, I’m an oldie compared to all of you. Being an oldie, summer time actually means something else besides an absurdly awesome week in Manchester, Indiana for this little thing called TAF. Summer season = wedding season.

Now if you’re lucky, you’ll have the good fortune of witnessing your friends find someone they love and celebrate in the company of family and friends. I’ve been lucky enough to have gone to a few weddings this year — and I have to admit, I can’t help but think of how beautiful it all is. Weddings and all the friends, fun, and festivities — are the ultimate expression of loving out loud.

For the lucky couple, it’s a celebration of something that can be so hard to find — to be loved, appreciated, and respected by another for everything they are, everything they’re not, and everything that they’re becoming. An open declaration that each person wants to be with the other and share life’s experiences through thick and thin, as they grow as individuals and as a couple.

For the friends and family, it’s a a celebration of loving and supporting the two individuals throughout their life’s steps, and especially onto the next as they start a new life together. It’s being a loving, caring friend throughout the years, and appreciating how people change, evolve, and become stronger and better people with each step.

While weddings are certainly something unique on it’s own, I can’t help but think that it’s just so perfectly TAFtastic too. TAF teaches us to communicate openly, with love and respect for everything that the other person is and everything that they’re becoming. It teaches us to listen, learn, and understand where someone is coming from, and why they might see things in a different light than you do that isn’t necessarily wrong. It teaches us to celebrate and appreciate the way people have grown, changed, and become more impactful and compassionate leaders with each year. TAF teaches us to love each other out loud, and at a wedding — that’s exactly what makes it so beautiful. (Color me crazy, but it’s almost like an affirmation on steroids.)

But okay, enough with the gush! I’ll admit it’s even better when it’s a TAF wedding, and you’re surrounded by great friends in a dance party sesh to Bizarre Love Triangle. Besides a serious game of WOOSHA or Chubby Bunny, is there anything that could make you happier?? 🙂

Special shout-out and congratulations to Margaret & Eric for their beautiful wedding this summer + the fantastic friends that I got to surround myself with as a part of 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!

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