Dr. Lily Wang: An Inspired Lover of Taiwan
by Mo Hawthorne
One cannot help but feel inspired by Dr. Lily Wang. She is of course all things accomplished, doctor of pediatric radiology, active in her community, a concert pianist, a singer, a water color artist; the list could go on forever. But above all her accomplishments and goals in life, the most infectious and inspiring is her unending love and passion advocating for her homeland, Taiwan.
Dr. Wang was born in Taiwan, went to high school in New Zealand and then got her medical degree in Australia. Her presentation to NATWA, however, revealed that although her physical body had left Taiwan, she carried it with her in her heart. Dr. Wang has worked tirelessly regarding Taiwan’s bid to obtain observer status at the WHA. Dr. Wang illustrated this need by describing the SARS outbreak in 2003. It was not until seven weeks after the first SARS case was identified in Taiwan that the WHO sent any officials to Taiwan. In contrast, Singapore, a small country similar in socio-economic status and size, received WHO officials immediately. Singapore reported no cases of SARs during the outbreak. She said Taiwan’s exclusion from the WHO is like a “hole in the net” in the event of a major global outbreak of avian flu or other diseases. Dr. Wang is the youngest person to ever serve as the president of the Taiwanese Association of Cincinnati.
It was evident in listening to Dr. Wang speak that, unlike so many children of Taiwanese immigrants who seem to follow in the footsteps of their parents’ cause, Dr. Wang has blazed her own path. She has traveled to Taiwan to vote, not because her parents asked her to, but because she wanted to be there herself.
Dr. Wang’s speech sparked in me a little bit of guilt. The guilt rushed over me when she led the NATWA members in not one, not two, but THREE Taiwanese language folk songs: every verse, every chorus, leading as if she was born to do this. I nervously glanced around when I did not recognize the songs and noticed so many beaming faces singing along, many of them with tears in their eyes. She had struck a chord of emotion buried in these first generation Taiwanese Americans and Canadians.
As I listened to each song, my guilt turned into awe. What I realized in listening to Dr. Wang was that we each, as second generation Taiwanese immigrants, had to make the cause of Taiwan our own. We need to find something about Taiwan that makes it our own and not merely on loan from our parents or relatives. As one NATWA II member put it, “I can’t sing Taiwanese songs, but I make a mean lo-bah bung.” Dr. Wang has inspired me to love Taiwan as my own homeland.