Archive for November, 2010

Former Harvard Running Back is Thankful this Holiday

Former Harvard Running Back is Thankful this Holiday

Video: Watch Harvard Running Back Cheng Ho’s Highlights on YouTube >>

Cheng Ho is a former college athlete who attended Harvard on a football scholarship and graduated earlier this year. I first met Cheng when I went to watch Jeremy Lin at the home games during the Ivy Conference season earlier this year. Cheering from the stands, Cheng stood out with his enthusiastic (and loud) support for Harvard and humorous heckling of the opposing teams. I later discovered he was a Harvard athlete himself – and also Taiwanese American – with a unique story about his passion for sports and his journey from Taiwan to Harvard. After reading up on his previous interviews with The Crimson (here and here), Sports Illustrated (here), and The Boston Globe (here), I thought it would be fun to catch up with Cheng and interview him for TaiwaneseAmerican.org.

K: First, thank you for letting TaiwaneseAmerican.org do a spotlight on you. And congratulations on your graduation! How do you feel?

C: Both a little anxious and excited. Anxious that I’m leaving a familiar place and making a new transition to New York and entering into the work force. It’s something I haven’t experienced but it’s also exciting because I’m ready to move on and do something different. I definitely feel like I’m done as far as writing papers and doing problem sets.

K: You’re moving to New York City to start a new job. Can you tell me more about that job and what you look forward to the most?

C: I’ll be working for the National Football League which is basically my favorite sport – well, basketball is up there too. The program I’m in is a two-year rotational program and I would be on various projects depending on the needs of the organization and my interests. I’m hoping to get into the international department, specifically China. And I want to get into marketing and sales initially just to learn as much as I can. My long-term passion and project, hopefully, is doing something involving China and football.

K: Do you think you would ever go back to Taiwan?

C: Potentially, because I still have relatives there. The last time I was there was two years ago, but it is home. And the food is great. I definitely see myself going back. As for permanently living there, I don’t even know how long I’ll be living in New York right now. I’m just going day-by-day, so we’ll see.

K: What’s your favorite Taiwanese food, btw?

C: Oh man, I could go on and on. I have to say it in Chinese obviously. I love the very typical “da chang mian shen” (大腸麵線 | What’s that? ) and a lot of typical Taiwanese dishes.

K: Looking back, you made a lot of big moves in your life…You went from Taiwan to Georgia, Georgia to prep school in Connecticut and then to Harvard. What was it like to make all those big transitions in your life?

C: It’s definitely been a huge blessing – the fact that I was able to transition from Taiwan to Georgia, mostly because of my family and the people who surrounded me at each place. It’s made me who I am as a student, an athlete, and as a person. It’s also allowed me to interact with a lot of different people with different backgrounds, different cultures. The people, especially at Avon (the school I went to), were from all over the world – people from Korea, India and even Europe. I also learned a lot about culture gaps and to become more aware of other people’s thinking and perspective on the same topic. I found it very interesting and just the fact I’m able to graduate from a place like Harvard, it’s just such a blessing.

K: What do you remember the most fondly about growing up in Taiwan? Do you ever wonder what it’d be like if you stayed?

C: I have thought about it. I moved from Taiwan to Georgia when I was 13. In my 13 years in Taiwan, I was a huge basketball guy.  I played basically year round. Tian Mu (天母 | What’s that? ) is the hometown where I grew up. My father worked a lot and my mother was mentally ill, so basically my sister and I had to become very independent as far as taking care of all issues – in school, outside of school. If I was still there, I would be very different I think. The reason I moved from Taiwan to Georgia was because my father passed away. At that point, I wouldn’t have had solid family support. Chances are I probably wouldn’t be alive right now. I’d probably be wandering around the streets of Taipei maybe because of the people I’d be hanging out with. I wouldn’t have much mentorship or support, so it’d be a lot different. But then again, there are a lot of different possibilities, so I try not to dwell on it. I do miss a lot of things like the easy access — I always found myself going to the basketball courts and playing pickup games and always enjoyed doing that when I was little. So I definitely miss that and a lot of my good friends there. I still stay in touch with a few, but not many of them unfortunately.

K: Speaking of family and support, a lot of young people find it challenging to communicate with their parents or older generations. How do you stay connected to your family members even though you are far away?

C: I call my mom every week over the phone just to see how she’s doing. But obviously, not being able to see each other, the conversation tends to become very similar over time. It’s always about what you’re going to do. She sends me mail sometimes and vice versa. So that’s how we stay connected.

K: Have you ever had a moment in your life you thought a decision you were about to make was a mistake or thought that you should give up on something?

C: That happens all the time! There’s always going to be a lot of challenges and obstacles in front of you. Sometimes you have to make a decision based on what the consequences will be. But the thing is, no matter what you do, once you make a decision, you can’t really look back. I think the most important thing is not having any regret because that will hold you back from making the most out of the opportunity you are making in that decision. I try to look ahead at the things I am in control of and go from there. Of course, I wouldn’t say I do it 100 percent of the time, but there are definitely times where I tell myself I’ve done everything I can and let the rest be taken care of by – you know, I do believe in the existence of a higher being – so let it be taken care of by the things that aren’t mine to control.

K: Did you ever think about giving up on anything? And how did it turn out?

C: Sure, I had a huge basketball background in Taiwan. In fact, I had the dream, like every other kid, to go to the NBA. I wanted to get a scholarship to play in college. Then down south there’s football, so I picked up the sport. Though I was playing football, I never gave up wanting to play college basketball and go pro. But then unfortunately, my height never got taller over time, whereas football became more invested in me and I became more invested in football. My sophomore year, I tore my ACL playing basketball and that was one of the most bottom stages of my life because I felt like I had to make a decision whether I wanted to stick with basketball or football. At that time it made more sense to stick with football because it would give me the most opportunity. It’s not that I gave up everything because I would still get to play a sport in college. It actually turned out to be a great decision. I didn’t play basketball and just focused on football the entire year. I was able to recover from the surgery and got a lot of interest from colleges through football. So yeah, I’ve had to give up something but not something entirely while also pursuing some other things at the same time. Sometimes you just gotta figure out ways to pursue what you want to achieve — whether you go around your obstacles or jump over it.

K: On a lighter note, do you remember the moment you and Jeremy met each other and realized you were both Taiwanese, and athletes, and in the same year? Was it BFFs at first sight?

C: Haha, well, it was different. Freshmen year I knew of Jeremy because he was one of the stand-out athletes on the basketball team. I played relatively well my freshmen year as well, so we kind of knew each other from that. He apparently read an article about me and my background so we talked about that a little bit and ended up becoming roommates. We both are pretty social, so there are a lot of similarities between us and our personalities were pretty fitting even though I think I have a better personality than he does — but he probably wouldn’t say the same if he hears me saying this haha. We definitely clicked and I feel like I learned a lot from him in terms of his spiritual life. I think that’s something I always admired — someone being able to have the discipline and focus. Despite distractions in college, he remained very faithful and focused. Sometimes we have small bible study or gatherings and talk about distractions and stuff. Even though we’re in different sports, we experience a lot of similar things as far as race, being Chinese, playing a sport, being really distinctive about how people treat you. From that standpoint we share a lot of similarities so we’re still really connected. Of course, we also love the same food, so that’s another positive.

K: How does it feel to know that you are one of the few Asian Americans in college sports?

C: I wouldn’t say that’s how I look at it. Being able to play a sport regardless of race — I think that’s a blessing already.  The fact that I’m Taiwanese American, yeah sure, I’m definitely very grateful about to be here. I’m also proud that I’m able to play the sport — a lot of my friends in high school love the sport as much as I do but weren’t able to play at this [college] level, so I think regardless of race, I’m just really fortunate and lucky to be here. I think it’s awesome that people can relate to you through race, but it’s not something I really focus on. But if it’s something that helps it, I’m open to it as well.

K: I know you’re also passionate about supporting other teams — you basically single-handedly rallied everyone to go see the men’s basketball and lacrosse teams. Why are sports and supporting teams and players so important to you?

C: Well, I wouldn’t say I single-handedly rallied everyone — I had a lot of support and help. As an athlete myself, I recognize how important it is to have that sense of community, which Harvard lacks, especially in the athletic arena. There are a lot of really good sports teams here everyone but people don’t take notice because everyone is so busy. It’s interesting though because once a group of people start wanting to pursue something, other people follow. So I thought the most important thing was to get a group of people’s attention, and then the other people will come.

As an athlete, I always felt disappointed looking into the stands seeing so many empty seats. So given the basketball and lacrosse success we had in the past year, the teams sell themselves and all I really had to do was spread the word. It’s also great because it’s building a sense of community and belonging which benefits many students and creates something people will want to come back to for the following games because it’s fun. We are changing, in a way, the social norms of sports here because there’s no such thing as “too cool” to cheer anymore — everybody’s standing up and cheering at the basketball games. When everybody’s doing it, you feel comfortable doing the same thing. It’s just a lot more fun, making friends — at times being obnoxious — but you’re supporting your teams in a very positive way. That’s what I feel it’s all about. It’s also really good because people can relieve their stress on the weekends by cheering and screaming their lungs out.

K: What other kinds of leadership do you currently, or hope to, take on?

C: Football is really one of the major reasons why I’m at this school. I was a recruited athlete, my grades were okay, my SAT score was awful. I definitely took the unusual route to get here through sports. It’s funny because in Taiwan, parents always emphasize academics as the gateway to success. Yes, it is, but at the same time, I don’t think sports can be completely eliminated because they do teach you a lot of lessons and values you would not learn in the classroom. I’m hoping to keep football and sports as part of my life, and that’s why I joined the NFL organization because in the long run, we hope to help bring the league and the sport to China for people to actually learn the sport and learn that opportunities not only come from the classroom but also through sports. Maybe in the future there would even be a scholarship for them to come to the states. Those are the things I’m hoping to take on. If there could be a professional football league in China, then that would be awesome as well.

K: What life lessons and values do you hope to never let go of as you enter the next stage of your career?

C: The reason I am here is because a lot of people have been there in my life. First and foremost, it’s the people you are surrounded with — just never forget whoever has lent a helpful hand. You can’t really live alone by yourself so there’s always someone helping you whether you know it or not. Gratitude is something very important to recognize and appreciate others for what they do for you. Also, hard work and perseverance. For people who want to take the easy route and make life easy — the bottom line is, life is not going to be easy and how you respond to things is really where the perseverance comes in. No matter what happens, you gotta be able to persevere and not easily give up. Those are the three main things I’ve learned and it’s hard to do but if you just keep it simple and focus on that then good things will happen.

THANKSGIVING UPDATE: Cheng has been keeping busy on his rotation with the Events Department at the NFL. He has been helping with events such as the NFL Experience, a Super Bowl theme park in Dallas and the NFL’s “Punt, Pass & Kick” competition for encouraging kids to lead active lifestyles. And this holiday season, Cheng is thankful for many things among which are his new job, support from his family, being able to look back at the “sixth man” experience at Harvard—and thank those who helped make it happen—and last but not least, seeing his good friend Jeremy Lin make it into the NBA.

Jen Shyu solo: Inner Chapters + Duo with Mat Maneri in NY

Date: Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Time: 8:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Barbes
Address: 376 9th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=171159809578936

Born in Illinois from Taiwanese and East Timorese parents, Jen Shyu is a soloist and bandleader now based in NY, and has established herself as a pioneering and original voice in the improvisational, experimental jazz, and creative music and multidisciplinary worlds. Shyu has worked with innovators such as Anthony Braxton, Mark Dresser, Dave Burrell, and currently records and tours with saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman and Five Elements since appearing on his latest albums Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings 2010) and Lucidarium and Weaving Symbolics (Label Bleu 2005 & 2006). She has done extensive music research in Cuba, Brazil, Taiwan, China, and most recently, East Timor.

In this performance, Jen Shyu brings you ancestral and original music, song improvisations for solo voice, piano, Taiwanese moon lute, er hu, & East Timorese lakado. Languages include English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Tetum, Pinuyumayan (aka Puyuma) dialect.

Visit: http://jenshyu.com

A Video and Interview with Sweet Sweet Alice Tong

A Video and Interview with Sweet Sweet Alice Tong

We catch up with talented singer-songwriter Alice Tong on a rain-drizzled evening as she completes her recent west coast tour at Mama Buzz Cafe, an artsy hole-in-the-wall joint on the fringes of gritty downtown Oakland, CA. Even though it’s cool and brisk outside, she warms the souls of this intimate-sized crowd of fans with her rich beautiful voice.

TaiwaneseAmerican.org is pleased to share a video of one of her songs “Sweet Sweet” followed by a brief interview with Ho Chie Tsai.

Want to know more about this amazing woman? Revisit our Spotlight on Alice Tong from April 2010 in which we recount her journey over a year and a half: http://taiwaneseamerican.org/ta/2010/04/27/in-step-with-alice-tong-prelude-to-progression/

Then be sure to visit her website and pick up one of her new CDs:
http://alicetongmusic.com/
http://alicetong.bandcamp.com/

Indie Band USVS Performs at Mercury Lounge in NY

Date: Monday, November 22, 2010
Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Location: Mercury Lounge
Address: 217 East Houston Street, New York, NY
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173785412634363

$8 door / 21+

If you’re in NY, check out USVS, fronted by Taiwanese American Dave Yang.

“USVS, a Brooklyn indie rock quartet that sounds a little like a post rock version of early U2, recently released their second EP which you can stream on their website. Their music is built around spacious drum patterns that rhythmically interact with alternatively angular and textural guitar parts, on top of which floats a single layer of vocals.”
nyc.thedelimagazine.com

Follow USVS on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/usvsband
Visit them on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/usvs

“Hello Taiwan Rocks!” Concert in New York

Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Time: 7:30pm – 12:00am
Location: Taiwan Center
Address: 137-45 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155730431134816
This is an all-age show
21+ with ID to consume alcohol

Admission: $10.

Special discount for $7 if pre-purchased before 11/16 midnight, please visit: http://hellotaiwanconcert.eventbrite.com

This is the first annual rock concert at Taiwan Center and will feature 4 rock bands: Dzian!, Torpid May, Magnetic Island and The Hsu-nami.

8pm
Torpid May (Manhattan), pop, grunge, noise, punk and ambient rock.
http://www.myspace.com/torpidmay

9pm
Dzian! (Virginia) , “Dzian!/贊!樂團
(pronounced “ze-an”) is North America’s first Nakasi (那卡西) surf rock band.
http://www.myspace.com/dzianband

10pm
Magnetic Island (Brooklyn) Musical Collective create a unique brand of experimental indie rock.
http://www.myspace.com/magneticislandband

11pm
The Hsu-nami (New Jersey). “Prog Erhu Hard Rock, Music featured in the 2008 Summer Olympic in Beijing.”
http://www.myspace.com/hsunami

Plenty of parking is available 3 blocks away at the Municipal Parking lot on Union Street and 37 Ave. Or take the #7 train to the last stop Main Street and walk 5 minutes to Northern Blvd.

●This event is organized by TKNY (紐約台客 Tai-Ke New York), AsianinNY.com, Passport to Taiwan Festival, TAC-NY (紐約紐澤西台灣人社團聯合會), TAA-NY (大紐約區台灣同鄉會) and Taiwan Center (台灣會館).

●This event is sponsored by Asahi Beer, Amerasia Bank (紐約第一銀行), Ice Fire Land (冰火宴台灣火鍋), TCC (文建會台北文化中心), OCAC (僑委會華僑文教中心) and Taipei Economic Cultural Center (紐約台北經濟文化辦事處).

Celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner with Taiwanese Flavor in SF/Bay Area

Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Joy Restaurant
Address: 1489 Beach Park Blvd, Foster City, CA
Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=169982683030313

Are you spending November 20 in the Bay Area? If so, come feast with
Taiwanese American Professionals – SF / Bay area (TAP-SF) at Joy Restaurant, one of the Bay Area’s most authentic Taiwanese restaurants, to celebrate good food in good company! The cost of this banquet is $18 per person, and TAP-SF will donate part of the proceeds to the 2011 Taiwanese American Cultural Festival, an annual exhibition of Taiwanese culture that attracts over 7000 visitors and features performances, exhibits, food, and much more!

RSVP by Thursday, November 18 via the Facebook invite AND prepay online at http://tap-sf.tacl.org/thanksgiving2010.php so we can save your place at the table!

Parking is free at the restaurant’s parking lot so bring your friends – the more, the merrier!

Check out TAP-SF’s early Black Friday special deal!
Join now for 2011, and get the balance of 2010 included at no extra charge! Take advantage of unlimited access to all our events for the rest of 2010 and all of 2011. Join TAP-SF at http://tap-sf.tacl.org/reg-info.php

Membership Benefits:
1. FREE entry to monthly TAPpy hour/social mixers at hip hot spots around the Bay
2. FREE entry to professional workshops, seminars and networking sessions (bi-monthly)
3. Discounted rate for TAP premier events (e.g. BBQs, cultural events, social events)
4. FREE access to the membership directory for networking purposes
5. PRIORITY entrance to the exclusive professional development mentorship program [coming in 2011]
6. Special discounts at popular Taiwanese restaurants and eateries around the Bay [coming in 2011]

**Questions? Please email tapsf@tacl.org


About TAP-SF
TAP enhances the Taiwanese American community by networking individuals interested in professional and career development, while emphasizing the preservation of Taiwanese American identity. TAP provides resources and programs that inspire and empower; develop and support professionals to become community-oriented leaders.

Join TAP in LA for a Community Service Event

Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Time: 12:30pm – 3:30pm
Location: Trinity Cristo Rey Lutheran Church Parking Lot
Address: 902 South Broadway, Santa Ana, CA

Taiwanese American Professionals – Los Angeles (TAP-LA) is excited to announce that we will be supporting Cool Water Ministries to provide food via Second Harvest OC Food Bank mobile pantry. Cool Water Ministries has been associated with Second Harvest OC Food Bank (feedoc.org) for almost 10 years. They provide food to families once a month at various locations.

*3 Hours assisting with unloading, packaging & distributing food from a truck to up to 200 families in need.

*The pantry truck is loaded with produce and other goods in the minimum amount of 5,000 lbs., sometimes as much as 15,000 lbs.

*We set up an assembly line to sort and bag the food, the clients are released to pick up the bags and directed out of the parking lot.

*Last month they had 145 families come and pickup food; the family pickup has been as high as 225.

*Volunteer credit provided, if necessary (request with RSVP)

*Free neighborhood parking available around distribution location

This is a FREE event, and we welcome everyone to join us, members and non-members alike.

For more information on the 2nd Harvest Food Pantry , please see:

http://feedoc.org/

For any questions or concerns, please contact TAP Community Development Chair, Julie @ julie.chao@tacl.org

Taste of Taiwan 2010, hosted by Emory & GATech

Emory University and Georgia Tech University TASA are hosting their annual Taste of Taiwan on November 20, 2010 starting at 7pm-9pm at the Chinese Cultural Center.

Come enjoy a night of traditional performances, delicious Taiwanese bentos, fun activities, and restaurant samples! Bring your friends! Free admission (includes bento) for all college students with valid student IDs, $2 admission for non-college students. Bring cash to buy food coupons for restaurant samples.

Performances:
-Emory Chinese Dance Group
-Emory’s Persuasion Hip-hop team
-2010 Kollaboration Winners: Lost in the Gym
-Taiwanese School of Atlanta Drum Team
-Traditional Chinese Dance
-and MORE!

Participating Restaurants:
-Quickly’s
-SnoFlake
-and MORE!

Activities:
-Learn calligraphy
-Photoshoot
-Folding orgami
-and MORE!

Sponsors:
-Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Atlanta
-Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association (ITASA)
-Quickly’s
-SnoFlake

For more information visit the facebook event!

SEE YOU THERE!

Singer-Songwriter Alice Tong Tours the West Coast

Alice Tong is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist living in Oakland, CA. We think her voice is one of a kind, and her piano, guitar, ukelele, and harmonica playing just enhance it even more! Her sound is inspired by jazz, soul, and blues.

She has just launched her new album of all-original songs entitled, “please be brave before the lions they come,” and now embarks on a west coast tour! Get out there and support her! We promise you’ll be blown away!

Seattle, WA
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 9pm at Tost Lounge (w/ Colin Higgins)
www.tostlounge.com
513 N. 36th St. #E, Seattle, WA 98103 · (206) 547-0240 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (206) 547-0240      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
$5, 21+ w/ID

Mountain View, CA
Friday, Nov. 5, 8pm at Red Rock
www.redrock.org
201 Castro St., Mountain View, CA 94041 · (650) 967-4473
Free, All Ages

Long Beach, CA
Friday, Nov. 12, 8pm at Viento y Agua Coffee House
www.vientoyaguacoffeehouse.com
4007 East 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814 · (562) 434-1182
Free, All Ages

Oakland, CA
Friday, Nov. 19, 7pm at Mama Buzz Coffee House
www.mamabuzzcafe.com
2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94612 · (510) 465-4073
Free, All Ages

For more info on Alice, join her Facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/alicetongmusic

Taiwan Film Festival at the Chapman University in Orange County, CA

Date: November 19 & 20, 2010
Location: Argyros Forum Room 208, Chapman University
Address: 386 N. Center Street, Orange, CA, 92866
FREE!

The Chapman University’s Center for Global Education, the Wilkinson College for Humanities and Social Sciences, jointed with Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, will hold a Taiwan Film Festival to screen three Taiwan contemporary films (Three Times, Kung Fu Dunk, and Cape No. 7) on November 19th at 7:00 pm, November 20th at 5:00pm and November 20th at 8:00pm respectively at the Chapman campus. The screening is FREE and open to the public.

ABOUT Three Times (November 19th at 7pm)
From renowned Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Three Times interlocks three distinct love stories, “A Time for Freedom” in 1911, “A Time for Love” in 1966, and “A Time for Youth” in 2005. It chronicles the shift in technology from love letters to text messages, from societal restrictions to the ways we isolate ourselves from each other today.

Hou has been hailed as “one of the three directors most crucial to the future of cinema” and honored by Film Comment as “Director of the Decade.” This is a rare opportunity for western audiences to see his meticulous, rapturously beautiful style on the big screen.

ABOUT Kung Fu Dunk (November 20th at 5pm)
The film, Kung Fu Dunk, portrays an orphaned boy who was raised at a kung fu school, learned the art of kung fu well and later becomes a talented basketball player. The youngster, Shi-Jie (Jay Chou, a talented Taiwanese singer-actor), possesses extraordinary manual dexterity which impresses his Uncle Li (Eric Tsang), a down-and-out hustler. On the pretext of helping Shi-Jie search for his parents, Li invites him to play basketball for First University, but in reality Li has intentions of using him to make money. How Shi-Jie deals with turning the competition into victory and winning his love interest, Li-Li (Charlene Choi) makes this an entertaining movie for the whole family.

ABOUT Cape No.7 (November 20th at 8pm)
Cape No. 7 is the largest production in Taiwanese film history and holds the position as the second highest grossing film of all time in Taiwan, only behind Titanic. It is a film about the unwavering pursuits for music, dreams and love and provides a lavish presentation of South Taiwan’s breathtaking scenery through its top-notch cinematography.

Director Wei, a former assistant director under the legendary Edward Yang, has exquisitely portrays a hidden love from the 1940’s Japanese-occupied Taiwan. Unable to disclose his affection for a Taiwanese lady prior to returning to Japan, a Japanese teacher reveals his love in seven unforgettably passionate letters. Although these letters weren’t mailed until some 70 years later, they ignite a series of events and become a catalyst of another inter-cultural love affair.