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ITASA forum to celebrate Taiwanese-American roots

"This will probably be the biggest Asian invasion that this campus has seen in years," George Cheng '98, co-chair of the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association, said of the ITASA annual conference to be held on campus this weekend.

Audrey Jean '99, co-chair of ITASA, said that she expects over 300 students from at least 34 different colleges and universities from as far as Canada and California.


The conference, entitled "Tai-wanese Eyes-American Visions," consists of a variety of workshops, speakers and performances open to all University students with PUID.

"The workshops are about our identity within the Asian spectrum and within American society as a whole," Jean said.

Wide appeal

She explained that many of the workshops are held concurrently and appeal to a wide variety of students. "Some sessions are more basic or introductory, while others are more obscure for people who already know a lot and are looking for a different take," she said.

Speakers include Dr. Ming T. Tsuang, head of the Harvard Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and Ida Chen, the highest ranking female Asian-American judge.

Coen Blaauw, executive director of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, will speak Saturday morning about lobbying congress for Taiwanese Americans' needs.

James Hsiao, a senior at Yale University, double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Film Studies, will be showing clips from two movies he produced. One film addresses victims of a Taiwanese massacre, whereas the other is a coming-of-age film.


Saturday afternoon there will include workshops on Taichi and acupuncture. Jean explained that Dr. Ming Jin, who is running the acupuncture workshop, will take one or two volunteers from the audience.

Second Generation Productions will perform an original musical, "Making Tracks" in Alexander Hall at noon Saturday. The musical traces the history of Asian Americans, from when they came to the U.S. to build railroads to the present day. Several of the performers have played lead roles in Broadway musicals, including "Miss Saigon."

Students come to this conference, "to strengthen their Taiwanese identity," Cheng said. He explained that it is a challenge "to maintain Taiwanese ties and live in America," adding, "hopefully this conference will help people with this balance."

The conference, however, also has "that social element," Cheng added.

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Many students are involved in Taiwanese American issues, and come annually, so the conference is also "a chance to see old friends," Jean said. Cheng added that most of the attendees are second-generation Taiwanese Americans.

The conference is held every year at different universities across the country. Princeton last hosted the conference in 1994.

The conference attendees will be staying with students on campus, but ITASA has guaranteed housing only for the 250 preregistered attendees.

ITASA is "a network of college students who come together based on a common Taiwanese heritage to provide a support group to facilitate the defining of an individual's Taiwanese North American identity," according to their mission statement.