NATWA II Perspectives
by Sarah Hedges-Chou, NATWA II (Toronto, Canada)
When my Amah invited me along with her to the NATWA 2013 Convention in Los Angeles, I had no idea what to expect. I had many questions: Would there be a language barrier? Would I be one of the only young people? What would we talk about there?
These questions were soon out of my mind, as I was instantly welcomed into a diverse group of inspiring and accomplished women. The NATWA group proved themselves to be exceptionally lively and kind, graciously welcoming new members and familiar faces from across North America. The atmosphere resembled a high school reunion of sorts, with everyone hugging and laughing and greeting old friends! I was so happy to be a part of this great congregation of Taiwanese women, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting and talking to attendees from across Canada and the United States, and from all backgrounds and professions. To hear many of their stories about immigrating to a new country, raising families, and the professional achievements of Taiwanese women was extremely motivational. This positive atmosphere and sense of celebration kept energies high throughout the busy weekend.
The NATWA and NATWA II program perfectly encapsulated the level of achievement and diversity of experiences among this amazing group of women. Marie Lin’s speech on Taiwanese genetic heritage was a real treat. Despite knowing nothing of genetics myself, Lin’s passion and expertise on the topic was tangible…even with translation into English for the NATWA II members. Charlene Chen proved to be an amazing speaker; she shared her experiences globetrotting and working in Kenya and encouraged us to seek out adventure and step outside of our comfort zones. Dr. Lily Wang, in her impressive tri-lingual address, did not disappoint. With her infectious enthusiasm, she spoke of her many political and professional pursuits, for Taiwan and in the health sector. What an amazing group of speakers!
Other highlights of the weekend included the talent displayed at NATWA and LA Night, as well as the roundtable discussion, “What Are You? Navigating Interracial Identities and Relationships”, and the NATWA II panel on domestic violence. Hugely important topics, these issues spanned generational divides and engaged their audiences. In the discussion on interracial identities and relationships, the entire room shared stories and experiences, conveying their struggles and successes with their own identities, their children’s partners, grandchildren, etc. On the domestic violence panel, the guest panelists shared their expertise and experiences in the field to shed light on domestic violence, and specifically how it affects North American Asian populations. By starting this dialogue and drawing upon the diverse experiences of the North American-Taiwanese women’s community, we have taken the important, women-led, first step in addressing domestic violence in our communities.
Exhausted and exhilarated, I was sad to say goodbye to the many friends I made at the 2013 NATWA Convention. Through my engagement with the NATWA community and the amazing women I met in LA, I feel more connected to my Taiwanese roots than ever before. And to share this experience with my Amah, a strong and inspirational woman herself, only made this trip even more rewarding. Thank you to all of those who worked so hard to make this event a success. I had a great time with the NATWA and NAWTA II women, and hope to see you all in New Orleans in 2014!