The first day after graduating from four years of college, the thing on most graduates’ minds is: what’s next? For me, it was Washington, D.C.
As my four years at UC Irvine came to an end, I said goodbye to Peter the Anteater and embarked on another spectacular journey: Formosa Foundation’s Ambassador Program. The program brought together 19 ambassadors who all share a common passion: our love for Taiwan. Not only did we have ambassadors from all over the United States, we also had a precious handful from Taiwan. We were all there to promote democracy, human rights and the right to self-determination for the people of Taiwan.
The first day of the program had a series of workshops and seminars arranged for us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Speakers consisted of policy experts and influential scholars who taught us more about the situation in the Taiwan Strait. We also learned from insiders about how U.S. policy is made. We were like empty teacups being filled with more and more knowledge. After many days of intense training, it was finally time to show off everything we had learned. During the last four days, our class held 127 meetings with Congress and its staff. In our meetings, each ambassador urged the Congressional member to support Taiwan’s entry into the World Health Organization, to strengthen the economic relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, to support high-level visits between U.S. and Taiwan leaders and to expedite arms sales to Taiwan.
During breaks between our meetings, I would reflect upon my current feelings and thoughts. As I was always the quiet and shy one in class, I would have never dreamt that I would be able to meet with U.S. policy makers, let alone talk to them face to face about issues I really cared about. These were people you read about in the newspapers while eating breakfast and the people that you saw on television. While it was rewarding to voice my concerns to the Congressmen and Congresswomen, it was also exciting to discuss and hear their opinions. We met with many representatives who gave us their hand in support of Taiwan. I was really touched to see the warm and positive response they had towards Taiwan.
As a Taiwanese-American, I feel that it is important to stand up for what you believe in. I believe in Taiwan and I really hope that other Americans will too. It is important for the American public to be aware of Taiwan as a democratic nation that shares the same values and ideals as the very nation they live in. Democracies should work together and support each other, hand in hand. Taiwan matters because it mirrors American democratic values and is a good friend to the U.S.
After graduating from the Ambassador Program, I feel very happy to have voiced my concern in the nation’s capitol. I am proud to have been a speaker for the people in Taiwan and for the Taiwanese-American community here in the U.S. These two weeks have opened me up to a new world that I had never been to. Not only has it made my faith in Taiwan’s future stronger, it has also made my Taiwanese-American identity stronger. Now, more than ever, I feel more determined and empowered to speak for Taiwan. I encourage all of you who have the same passion to also participate in the Ambassador program for the experience of a lifetime. The things worth fighting for are never easily gained.
The Formosa Foundation is a non-profit entity based in Los Angeles, California dedicated to the advancement of human rights, democracy and the right to self-determination in Taiwan. Every year, the Formosa Foundation’s Ambassador Program offers hands-on training for students to become leaders and develop grassroots skills needed to effectively promote and protect Taiwan.
For more information, please visit formosafoundation.org.