I miss the days when conversation was the basis of a good night.
Immaturity has always been a pet peeve of mine, but I think it’s really starting to eat at me. I’m not talking about people who 裝可愛 (pretend to be cute), but more along the lines of people who are selfish.
Let me better define the type of immaturity I’m talking about: Being so self-absorbed that you don’t consider others. It’s not quite selfishness because to me, selfishness is a conscious decision. If you’re doing it unconsciously, then you’re just immature.
Eric Kao’s ITASA Reflection
Since 2005, I have written a reflection after every year at the Taiwanese American Foundation (TAF), a week-long summer camp I have been attending since 2002. After attending last year’s ITASA Midwest Conference, I was amazed at the potential that the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association had to further the spread of TAFlove - the impact of irreplaceable friendships built on common interests and experiences.
I think my decision to apply for ITASA National Board last April/May made the biggest impact on my 2011-2012 school year. I did end up getting pretty absorbed into it and people started commenting how ITASA became my life (you know it’s actually true when people are telling you this, and it’s not just self-proclaimed). It wasn’t difficult though, because unlike some others on National Board, I had always been proud of being Taiwanese (now identifying as Taiwanese American) because besides going to TAF every year, my parents would bring me along to TAA, FAPA, NATWA, and other events, even as a child.
**For my vision of what ITASA has the potential to be / can become, click here [link currently unavailable].
It’s been a long year, and I’ve had time to think about what ITASA means to me.
The main impact ITASA has made for me is allowing me to expand my circles of friends to an extent that was previously unfathomable. ITASA gives you the opportunity to connect with peers from all over the country, if you’re willing to do so. Sure, if you attend the conferences you’ll also have the chance to network with speakers, but to me, connecting is more important than networking. As the year progressed, I started to realize that some of these friends would be for life. Having a web of friends from all over the country - that’s something that can’t be replaced. As long as you care, the connection quickly becomes more than just ITASA, and you hang out just for the sake of hanging out.
The result? This last semester has been epic.
Chilling with new friends at Brown University
Eating out at the Taiwanese 527 Cafe!
I’ve been adopted into UIUC TASC!
Hanging out in Times Square
Lunch at Gourmet Dumpling House!
Exploring Chinatown on a Sunday Morning with some Ohio State students!
Adopted by Northwestern Students as well!
Out to eat at Bob’s Noodles in Maryland, with students from JHU, UMCP, NYU, Rutgers!
Planking in the Smithsonian Art Museum
Despite all this fun, I still have one trip planned after finals (right before I graduate), where I will visit my friends at Illinois, Northwestern, and Ohio State. You may find that there’s just not enough time at conferences to catch up with all of the people you’ll get to know, so you’ve got to make time for your friends. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to meet who I have, and I really do hope that we’ll be friends for a long time. Even when we part ways, I like to paraphrase one of my friends and not say “goodbye” but “see you later,” because you all matter to me, and I’ll make sure that our paths do cross again.
Moral of the story? I highly recommend that you apply for ITASA National Board, especially if you’re passionate about Taiwan, and all that Taiwanese Americans have to offer. It can be a life changing decision, or at the very least, a very good one.
-Eric Kao, 2011-2012 National Public Relations Director
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My major ITASA events
Here’s a brief post with some of the major Taiwanese events to I attended over the past school year.
It all started with Summer Summit. I got into LAX after being in class for less than a week, and got to chill with a lot of people. Nice weather, new friends, and Korean BBQ - what more could you ask for?
National Board in Southern California
I swung by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to cover their Taiwanese Cultural Day, which was a really cool event jointly held by two of the Taiwanese groups on that campus, TASC and TIA.
What’s cool? A majority of people in this photo are now my friends!
Early in second semester, Northwestern held the Midwest Leadership retreat, while I personally had already done most of the workshops in some other context, it was still a great experience to meet even more people.
Group photo at Northwestern
A week later, we found ourselves in Atlanta for the ITASA East Coast Conference - where I got to meet even more people! Giant groups came from the New York / New Jersey area, as well as Maryland!
ITASA National Board in Atlanta
Fast forward a month or so, and we wound up in Ann Arbor for the Midwest Conference, where another nearly 200 students got together - some people were meeting for the first time, and others were busy catching up after many years.
ITASA National Board in Ann Arbor
Connect with ITASA!
My year in ITASA videos
Shooting the ITASA Footprints promo - Photo via Stephanie Liao
2011 Summer Summit
2012 Midwest Leadership Retreat
2012 East Coast Conference
2012 Midwest Conference
2012 ITASA Footprints Promo
2013 ITASA East Coast Conference Promo
It’s been a fun year, everyone!
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Email from my TA in Philosophy…
Connecting, not Networking.
A lot of people pride themselves on their networking abilities. To them, I say, “You’re full of it.” [As a side note, props to MAASU, for having a workshop about this, even though I didn’t get to see it]
There is a fellow I know who seems to eat up anything that a person with power says. He’s so easily “inspired” by them, that if someone were to realize this, they could easily manipulate him. But that’s beside the point. He rushes to “network” with these people of power, and rushes to “network” with students in power, but completely neglects others, who he doesn’t see as offering any value to him - either professionally, or perhaps aesthetically, if you know what I mean. It’s not a surprise that he’s seen as a douche/tool by many, but that’s beside the point.
Here’s my take: If you only network “up”, then you show that you are selfish and the relationships you make will probably be short-lived. People in power have no need for your useless ass.
I strongly believe in investing in my peers, especially in college. You don’t know who’s going to make it big, so you take a genuine interest in them. You help them out with their stuff, and hopefully they’ll reciprocate. If you think about the end result, the worst that could happen is that you’ve found yourself a new friend. What’s on the upside? You’re long-time friends with a billionaire, and you’ve invested in them since the beginning - you might not even care that they’re rich, you just enjoy their company, because you’re legitimately friends, and not an “upwards networking leech.”
The problem I’m running into is with the issue of time though. I love meeting new people, and getting to know them (Note, this is actually getting to know them - not just putting them into my mental contact file) but there’s just not enough time… unless you make them a priority, and make time.
There’s not enough time!
I’m so lucky to have many friends from different schools. It’s sort of become a joke to some people, how I’m always bouncing around from crowd to crowd, but I don’t mind it - I’ve always detested cliques and looked to break them. Maybe it’s because I moved around so much as a kid, and I never really found a spot deep inside a clique.
If there was one thing I could change about this past Midwest Conference (or maybe about life…), it would just be to have more time - we could always use more time. Over the course of this year, I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I saw so many worlds collide at ITASA MWC. UIUC, Northwestern, Ohio State, TAF, UMich, TANG, you name it. And then I was busy meeting even more new people, both from these places, and I just hadn’t known them before, and from other places, say Michigan State, or Case Western.
It was at lunch when I got kind of overwhelmed. It was CRAZY to pick up food, and be able to talk with nearly every group I walked past. I had good friends in every group and I felt so loved to have them ask me to stay and chill with them.
At the end of the conference, I looked back and realized that I had a good time, but I really wanted to just spend time with people and chat about life. It’s such a basic thing, but it’s so fundamental to building relationships with other people.
We live in a world that encourages you to blindly truck forward and always be busy, but I don’t think that’s right, or healthy. I strongly believe that sometimes we need to just slow down, and take stock of where we are, and who we are.
While people in college just want to go out and party (and this is perfectly rational), in my book, there’s nothing like a late-night life-pondering session. I like getting to know people better, ever so slightly, every time we meet.