Author Archives: Kristina

Anita Chang’s “Tongues of Heaven” Film

By Amy Lee, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient

We had the pleasure to view the screening of Anita Chang’s new film, “Tongues of Heaven” at NATWA. The film is set in Taiwan and Hawai’i and focuses on the questions, desires and challenges of young indigenous peoples to learn the languages of their forebears—languages that are endangered or facing extinction. Using digital video as the primary medium of expression, four young indigenous women from divergent backgrounds collaborate and exchange ideas to consider the impact of language on identity and culture.

Following up with the screening, Anita hosted a Q&A session with the audience. Tongues of Heaven is a documentary relied heavily on self filming from those who took part in the film. With the majority of the world’s population speaking only 4% of the world’s languages, the film discuss the struggles and

perspectives of preserving mother tongues in the age of homogenizing languages.

Anita talked about not only the main theme of the film, languages, but also the other various topics that were briefly brought up in the film. Indigenous people’s health issues, politics they face and many more are all touched upon in the film. As a film maker, Anita had decided to make sure the film is focused on languages. Anita also mentioned that she many scenes were self made by the young indigenous people- she had them carry simple camera equipments with them and record the moments that they were compelled to share.

Anita’s film is screening in various cities. For more information, visit Anita’s website:


Panel: “Exploring Cultural Roots through the Arts”

By Sarah Hedges-Chou, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient

The final panel of the 26th Annual NATWA Convention in New Orleans was NATWA II’s “Exploring Cultural Roots through the Arts”. With organizers looking to host a diverse panel that would engage both older and younger generations, the discussion invited three Taiwanese-American women working in the arts to discuss their professional and personal journeys. The talented group of speakers included independent filmmaker, educator, and writer Anita Chang, author Julie Wu, and independent filmmaker, background artist, illustrator, and animator Hedy Yudaw. NATWA II intern Kristina Lin moderated the panel, spurring important discussions around careers in the arts, as well as the role of Taiwanese identity in shaping the work of these three artists.

Many of us were lucky enough to see Anita Chang’s most recent documentary “Tongues of Heaven” at an earlier screening at the NATWA convention. Examining the loss of indigenous languages in Taiwan and language revitalization efforts in Hawai’i, Chang’s documentary shines a light on the experiences of young indigenous women and investigates the links between language, identity and culture. Through this hard-hitting film, the question of “what do you lose when you lose your native language?” is explored.

Julie Wu’s 2013 novel “The Third Son” is a gripping work of historical fiction following disadvantaged third son, Saburo, as he navigates his way through life and love within Taiwan’s changing socio-political landscape. Starting in 1943, the story starts with the Chinese Nationalist Army take-over of the island following the Japanese occupation. Protagonist Saburo, trying to escape his oppressive family and the turbulent political environment in Taiwan during this period, seeks a new life in the United States. Mirroring the experiences of many Taiwanese immigrants to North America, Wu’s novel is at once exciting, heartbreaking, educational, and relatable for many NATWA members. Importantly, Wu’s novel also colorfully relates this unique experience of migration to descendants of Taiwanese immigrants.

A member of the Truku Tribe in Taiwan, Hedy Yudaw studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts and received her Masters of Fine Arts in animation from the UCLA School of Film and Theatre. Working in a variety of mediums, Yudaw uses her art to give voice to marginalized peoples and to represent indigenous art forms. Her many credits include her award winning thesis, Voice, and animation work on the hit television series Community. Yudaw’s versatility and artistry were exemplified in the short but powerful clip of her work screened at the NATWA panel.

Coming from very different fields, all three artists drew upon commonalities between their experiences as Taiwanese women working in the arts in North America. They spoke to issues of sexism and racism within the arts, especially in terms of funding challenges and working in fields that are often dominated by men. As Taiwanese women, the three speakers agreed that there is some added pressure, as well as an important opportunity, to represent the Taiwanese community. Instead of shirking away from this responsibility, Chang, Wu, and Yudaw rise to the challenge, successfully using their art forms to convey the history, the diverse geography, culture and politics of Taiwanese people in their respective works. Through their use of documentary film, historical fiction and animation, Taiwanese stories, voices and art forms become more widely accessible.

Citing their different journeys into careers in the arts, the panelists agreed that family and community support played a pivotal role in their careers. Chang and Wu both began their education in more “practical” areas of study, with Julie Wu even becoming a medical doctor before recognizing her calling as a writer. The artists encouraged the audience to follow their passions and not be afraid to move beyond traditional roles and career paths. However, paraphrasing Anita Chang, a decision to follow ones passion is not always a choice, it is necessity.

The panel closed with the work of another talented Taiwanese-American artist, writer/director Karen Lin. We had the privilege to screen her highly entertaining new web series “Hungry Monster” (, which showcases Taiwanese street food. The three episodes focused on stinky tofu, batsang, and boba tea, and reveals how these foods are made in creative and fun ways that aim to share Taiwanese food culture with a wider audience.

As demonstrated by the impressive group of artists on this panel, there is no shortage of talent amongst Taiwanese-American and Taiwanese-Canadian women in the arts. With support from NATWA as well as the wider Taiwanese community, these artists have the potential to raise awareness and appreciation for Taiwanese cultural heritage in all of its nuance and diversity. Thank you to the talented Anita Chang, Julie Wu, Hedy Yudaw, and Karen Lin for sharing their art with us at the NATWA II panel; you have engaged a new generation of Taiwanese-American and Taiwanese-Canadian women.

Big Bah-Tzangs: The Hungry Monster

By Pamela Hung, 2014 NATWA II Convention scholarship recipient


Wouldn’t someone dressed up in a giant bah-tzang costume be funny??

This simple image was the inspiration for Karen Lin’s “Hungry Monster,” a web series that gives viewers a creative way to learn about ethnic foods (such as bah-tzangs), their origins, and how they are prepared.

Named after the Taiwanese saying yao gui, “Hungry Monster” was created for people of all ages to learn about unfamiliar foods, including Taiwanese foods. Each episode features a different food and a “Hungry Monster of the Day,” a kid with the lucky opportunity to explore the spotlight dish. So far, bah-tzang, stinky tofu, and boba tea have been featured, while oyster pancake (oah-zen) and Taiwanese burger (gua bao) are currently in the works.

With the 2nd and 3rd+ generations of Taiwanese Americans quickly growing and inspired by her own two young nephews, Lin saw the importance of Taiwanese foods as a way to bridge generations and embody culture.

“Being Taiwanese, food is always about family. We get together and eat together and it’s during that time that we share stories or catch up with each other. I wanted to share that feeling with everyone that watches it.” Lin made it a point to feature families in each episode, and to make learning about Taiwanese foods fun for people young and old, Taiwanese or not.

Lin also approached this project as a way to exercise her own creativity. Because the props didn’t exist – giant forks, giant plates, and of course, a giant bah-tzang – Lin’s production team built everything from scratch. Doing the background research and writing the scripts as well, she took on the challenge and made it her own: “it could be anything I wanted it to be.”

However, she knows that “Hungry Monster” wouldn’t have been possible without the support of ZuZu Films, Cherry Sky Productions, individual donors (including Ginru Lee from NATWA), and groups such as the Taiwanese United Fund,, and the Taiwanese Heritage Society of Houston. And “Hungry Monster” is just getting started: she’s always looking for support to spread the word and for sponsors of future episodes.

With support from the Taiwanese American community, Lin saw her dream of a giant bah-tzang costume come true. Now, she dreams of a day when people understand the Taiwanese American identity and its food (and stop confusing it with Thailand!).

Find out how you can watch episodes of “Hungry Monster” or support this work:

NATWA II National Convention 2014 Hosted in New Orleans

Join the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association II (NATWA II) at the 2014 NATWA Convention in New Orleans, LA! The annual gathering brings together hundreds of Taiwanese Americans and Canadians from the 1st through 3rd generations in support of women’s issues.

Dates: Friday, April 18, 2014 – Sunday, April 20, 2014
Location: Hilton New Orleans Airport
Address: 901 Airline Drive, Kenner, LA

Convention registration forms are available at: NATWA Newsletter and Registration Form. (Note that there is a late charge for forms postmarked after March 17, 2014)

Travel scholarships are available for those in need: (Due March 9, 2014)

Note that there are separate tracks/schedules for the 1st and 2nd/3rd generations. The NATWA II students and young professionals English-speaking program will be available shortly.

Feel free to contact for more information and questions.

The purpose of NATWA II is three-fold:
(1) to establish a network consisting of 1.5- and 2nd-generation Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(2) to cultivate and promote talents among young Taiwanese American and Canadian women
(3) to preserve Taiwanese culture and promote Taiwanese American and Canadian identity.

SAVE THE DATE: NATWA 2014 Annual Convention

The NATWA 2014 Annual Convention Meeting will be from April 17-22, 2014 at the Hilton New Orleans Airport in New Orleans, LA.

Please stay tuned for the NATWA II Schedule!

“Out of Taiwan” Photography Exhibit in SoCal

Date: Sunday, February 9, 2014
Time: 2:00pm
Location: Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
Address: 695 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, CA

The NATWAII SoCal group will be visiting the Out of Taiwan: Shared Connections in the Pacific exhibit at the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum. Photographs by Danee Hazama.

The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) presents “Out of Taiwan: Shared Connections in the Pacific” exhibit October 26, 2013 to April 20, 2014 in Long Beach, California. Through the artistic lens of photographer Danee Hazama of Tahiti, French Polynesia, the shared cultural heritage between the people of the Pacific Islands and the indigenous people of Taiwan becomes apparent. Hazama will make a special appearance at the exhibit opening.

The origins of Pacific Islanders have been the subject of interest and controversy for many decades. Significant Western research in archaeology, historical linguistics and molecular genetics shows common patterns with the indigenous Taiwan people and the peoples of the Pacific Islands.

Admission Pricing:
General Admission: $5
Seniors (62+): $3
Students with ID: $3
PIEAM Members (Join Now): Free
Children under 12: Free
Current NATWA/NATWAII members will be comped. But you’re more than welcome to donate to this museum.

Info can on PIEAM can also be found on their website at

Feel free to contact us at, and visit our Facebook event page for more information: