The Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Student Association (ITASA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting college students from across the country to the budding Taiwanese American community. Our goal is to build a national network of people passionate about Taiwan while educating and empowering the next generation of our nation’s leaders in the process. Every year, our organization works with over a hundred student organizations nationwide and plans events from coast to coast. We are fully staffed by current and recent college students, and we pride ourselves on our approachability and professionalism. If you would like to support our cause or just want to learn more about Taiwan, we’d love to meet you. Join us at one of our events near you, or send us an email!
Wrapping Bazhang (Zhongzi) at 2011 Midwest Conference
At ITASA, we believe that the preservation of Taiwanese culture is a cause worth fighting for. Taiwan itself is a vibrant island, filled with breath-taking landmarks, delicious food, and exciting night-life. We at ITASA would like to share Taiwanese culture with as many people as possible so that our community can continue to grow and flourish.
Today, the Taiwanese American community is stronger than ever, with musicians, actors, writers that all take an active part in its growth. Our college community in particular has greatly increased in size, and it now boasts over a hundred Taiwanese American student organizations in colleges across the country. We work every day to bring the Taiwanese American community closer to anyone and everyone interested in Taiwan, no matter where they live.
Part of the 2012-2013 National Board at Summer Summit in Berkeley, California
ITASA’s story begins on July 15th, 1990, when an ambitious group of second generation Taiwanese Americans was selected at a Taiwanese American Conference (TAC) conference to start an intercollegiate Taiwanese Council. Members of this group nicknamed themselves “seeds,” mainly to reflect their aim to organically grow the Taiwanese American community through a collegiate network.
These “seeds” would reconvene in spring of 1991 at Columbia University to discuss the formation of this new organization. Around 20 people, representing Harvard, Columbia, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, Rutgers, and NYU, sat in a room together, and for 3 days, they hammered out the purpose and goals of what would become ITASA. Their names include Tim Ch’ng, Morris Tsai, Rolla Ch’ng, Ula Hwang, Peilan Chiu, Cindy Yeh, Felicia Lin, and Winston Yang.
Though our organization didn’t settle on an official name until 1993, the acronym ITASA traces back to 1992, when Brown University held the first “ITASA Cultural Conference” for universities in the region. Over the next year, similar conferences were held with various names, including the ITASA/TASC Cultural Conference at the University of Illinois, ITSA at University of Pennsylvania, and TASCon at the University of Illinois again. Though these conferences varied in name and location, they involved that same group of college students—a passionate core of Taiwanese Americans who wanted to reach, connect, and grow a community of like- minded people. With their events, they sought to not only establish the foundations for this new network, but also increase our society’s understanding of Taiwan and Taiwanese issues, as well as to promote the importance of identity, leadership, support, and non-political affiliation in our community. The original tenets of their vision are core values at ITASA and still guide our operations today.
At our inception, ITASA conferences were financed out of student pockets, and attendance generally numbered around 35 people. Only 10 years later, we consistently invite that many speakers at each conference, and every year, we see students coming in the hundreds to our events from coast to coast. On February 17, 1998, ITASA was formally incorporated as a 501(c)(3) religious/cultural tax-exempt nonprofit corporation in Delaware, by Incorporator Kokui Lim.
From a group of veteran officers, the Board of Directors emerged and took charge. In 2003, Governor-led Regional Boards were established, replacing the single Regional Representative in each region, and District Chairs took charge over the Districts, which were subdivided from the Regions. In 2006, District Chairs, along with being in charge of Districts, also were given the choice of also being an assistant to a National Director, making each Department an actual team of working individuals.
Our first Annual Leadership Retreat was held in 1999 at the University of Pennsylvania. The next year, the Leadership Retreat Program was expanded to include Midwest and West Coast Leadership Retreats, the first of which took place at Northwestern University and Pomona College, respectively. The original agenda was composed of three parts: group leadership exercises, Taiwanese American leadership, and the Future. In later years, the Leadership Pit became a trademark activity of the Leadership Retreats, as have a range of group games.
National Board hanging out after some intense work shops!
ITASA is an ever-changing organization, constantly redefining itself to adapt to the needs of the greater intercollegiate community. In line with its commitment to serve the greater good, ITASA launched its newest department, Philanthropy, in 2010. The philanthropy department is charged with the task of creating new ways for ITASA to give back to its community. As ITASA enters another year of connecting and empowering the Taiwanese American community, our board looks to continue our growth, and we look forward to improving on our existing events while introducing exciting new programs to benefit the Taiwanese American college organizations and intercollegiate community that we serve.
Schools That Have Held Conferences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
New York University
Ohio State University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, San Diego
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
University of Texas
University of Washington
University of Western Ontario
Q: Is ITASA a political organization?
A: ITASA is not a political organization, so we don’t promote any political cause in particular. We respect all mainstream political viewpoints in Taiwan and encourage rational and open discussion on all things related to Taiwan.
Q: Where does ITASA get its funding from?
A: As of now, ITASA mainly gets its funds through donations from businesses, foundations, other non-profits, schools, and individuals. We also receive grants from the various Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices around the country, usually for organizing local cultural events.
Q: How do I get involved in ITASA?
A: ITASA recruits officers every year, some on a rolling basis. All ITASA officers serve as volunteers. Approach an ITASA officer at an event or contact us for more information about volunteering for ITASA. ITASA officers are usually college students or recent graduates.
Q: Is ITASA just for college students?
A: ITASA’s programming is geared towards college students. However, high school students and recent graduates do regularly attend our events.
Q: Do I have to be “Taiwanese” or identify as “Taiwanese” to become involved with ITASA or attend ITASA’s events?
A: No, ITASA does not discriminate against a certain identity, race, ethnicity, national origin, or political belief. Having an interest in Taiwan is the one thing all attendees and volunteers have in common.
Do you have questions, comments, concerns? Would you like to learn more about ITASA or joining ITASA? Please feel free to contact us using the form instead! Someone from the leadership board will contact you soon regarding your submitted request.
If you prefer to send us mail, please use the following address:Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association
P.O. Box 654New York NY 10163