1999 Outstanding Youth Award Recipients
Being raised in a Taiwanese family and growing up in the United States has always been a constant cultural struggle for me. I remember as a child my classmates used to ask me where I was from since I was not in the white majority. I answered that I was from Taiwan, to which they responded, "Oh, so you're Chinese." This always confused me. I was Taiwanese, not Chinese. Wasn't it Taiwan that I answered? Not China. They are not the same.
Throughout the course of my life, this has always been an unshakable point in my parents' beliefs and has now been engraved into my own. I believe that all life exists in a delicate balance and that there are delicate balances within one life. It is a juggling act of three glass balls to the second generation of Taiwanese-American. One is of American responsibilities, the second of Taiwanese duties, and the third of personal morals. It is through this constant juggling act that I have become what I am and what I am proud to be today.
Currently, as a high-school sophomore, I have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.9. I am a member of Key Club, which involves completing community service hours, including such activities as tutoring elementary students and serving at soup kitchens. I have also been a member of the Junior Honor Society, completing fifteen hours over the required twenty hours of service and maintaining a GPA of higher than the required minimum of 3.5 throughout the entire year.
Music has also played a very important role in my life. When I was young, I loved to sing along with my dad on the guitar. Seeing my love for music, my parents introduced me to the violin, which I began playing when I was eight and have continued to since. At age eleven, I also took up the piano. I have attended the annual Piano Festival every year for past three and a half years I've played and have attained superior ratings each time. For violin, I was accepted into the Junior District Orchestra both my seventh and eighth grade years. Last year, I auditioned for and attended the Senior District Orchestra event and was accepted into the Senior Regional Orchestra earlier this year. I am also a National Virginia Youth Symphony Association (NVYSA) orchestra member.
Since as long as I can remember, I have always loved to write. As a second grader, it was always fantasy stories about beautiful princesses and magical kingdoms. Now, with gained maturity, writing has won me various awards and recognition. In the 1998 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a national competition with thousands of contestants competing at an international level, I was bestowed with a Gold Award for Poetry for the work I submitted. My writing has also been published in the Fairfax County literary magazine, Fragments, and also in national magazines such as Junior Scholastic and SCOPE.
I have also been active in promoting the Taiwanese people. The previous year, I volunteered at the Washington D.C. Taiwanese School teaching Taiwanese and Taioaan-oe ( Modern Literal Taiwanese) to young students. At Taiwan Night last year, I also assumed the duties of hosting as a Master of Ceremonies (MC). In October, I also helped raise money for the Taiwanese earthquake victims at a nearby grocery store, the result totaling over $300 in proceeds. Recently, I also performed a holiday concert at a nursing home with several other Taiwanese peers.
As each of us continues to grow in our journey through the new millennium, I am discovering more about myself and who I really am. I know for a fact, though, that the Taiwanese people and our unique culture will continue to play an important role in my life all through the future and that this will be something I will always be proud to be a part of.
Daughter of Wen-Chun Hou and Shu-Ching Hou
I have a wide variety of interests, ranging from sports to culture to service work. All the activities I participate in reflect on who I am today because they have taught me different life lessons whether I realize it or not.
For seven years I have been with the Washington D.C. Taiwanese School and have participated in the dance and Taekwondo classes as well. The dance class has performed at the Asian-Pacific American Heritage Festival at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. and Taiwan Night for several years. In the time I have been in the dance class, I have been very fortunate to have Ms. Deng as my dance teacher.
Through the Taekwondo class, Instructor Kim introduced me to the World Classic Martial Arts studio where I have been going to practice until last year. October 12, 1996 is my proudest day - I tested for and received my black belt, which reflects on all the years of hard work and training I have gone through.
More recently, I began the Washington School of Chinese Language and Culture (WSCLC) mainly for volleyball, but also because the conversation class not only helps me in Chinese (and Taiwanese) but also fulfills my desires to learn about the Chinese cultures and customs. I am also doing lots of volunteer work through the National 4-H Organization and Rotary Interact. Since 1995 I have volunteered at the Montgomery County Fair for the 4-H program. Jobs includes setting and cleaning up displays before and after the fair, taking pictures for the County Fair 4-H Press Team, and participating in the VIP Fair Host/Hostess program where I host a family with a child with disabilities and show them around the fair for the day. Also in the 4-H program I am a counselor for the County 4-H Camp (and now part of the County Camp Evaluation/Planning Committee) and the Maryland State 4-H Shooting Sports Camp. I have been selected to be part of the Maryland 4-H Technology Leadership Team in November. In Rotary Interact I participate in as many activities as I can throughout the year, some of which includes the March of Dimes walk-a-thon, Christmas in April, and canned food/clothing drives for the needy.
In my spare time I enjoy writing and computer-related activities. An internship over the summer at Caleum Research/Deus Technologies enhanced and broadened my knowledge of computers, as I digitized, scanned, and masked (on the computer) x-ray images of lung cancer patients.
Daughter of Shing-Kwan Huang and Ann Huang
My name is Melody Shieh and I am a senior at Dulaney High School in Timonium. During these four years, I have accomplished much culturally, academically, and athletically.
My musical and performing interest blossomed from nine years of violin lessons, six at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and was enhanced by three years learning the two-stringed Erhu. I was invited to perform at major events in the Taiwanese community, Multicultural Shows, and New Year's celebrations. I am a member of the Shanghai West Ensemble that performed at Columbia and the Towson University Concert Hall. Aside from music, I also perform a mainly self-taught sport, the pull bell. This plaything has gained me much praise in my school and community. During my freshman and sophomore years, I co-founded the Youth Group at the Chinese Language School in Baltimore in which I taught kids the pull bell. I led the class in performances at New Year's celebrations and other locations.
Athletics have played an important part in my growth as a person. I have been the Baltimore County Badminton Women's Singles Champion for two years as well as the County Tennis Women's Doubles Champion two years ago. The Dulaney Marching Band Color Guard has been an integral part of my school identity and spirit. For three years, I have helped represent my high school at regional parades, football games, and the annual Marching Band Showcase. Aside from school sports, I teach Kickboxing at the Universal Academy of Martial Arts where I receive training in Chinese Kung Fu. My involvement has given me discipline, confidence, and knowledge unavailable to me in the classroom.
Finally, my most arduous yet most rewarding component of my high school career has been academics. As a member in the National Honor Society, I am active in many school activities while still maintaining a high GPA with a heavy course load. I was recruited to be the Art Editor of The Griffin, our school newspaper. My cartoon received 2nd Place for the Maryland Scholastic Press Association Best Cartoon. This past summer, I was chosen to be a National Space Club Scholar for an internship at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. It was exhilarating to expose myself to the wonders of aeronautical sciences as well as the world famous scientists who specialized in them.
My endeavors in the past few years have made me a well-rounded person and laid the foundation for excellence as a Taiwanese American.
Daughter of Ron Shieh and Suewhei Shieh
As a 16 year-old Taiwanese-American at Gilman School in Baltimore, I like to immerse myself in many activities and interests. Personally, I consider myself to have two interests aside from school: photography and violin. Since picking up the violin at age 5, I have won prizes at the Maryland State Music Teachers Association Competition and was part of two orchestras. I was the assistant concertmaster of the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra, and participated in the 1998 European tour that included performances in London and Paris. As part of the North American Elite Youth Orchestra, I performed in their US-China-Taiwan tour in 1997 and in their Kennedy Center performance last year. Currently, I am a student of Klara Bergovich.
As a photographer, I am a photographer both for Cynosure, the Gilman yearbook, and the Gilman News, the Gilman monthly newspaper. Aside from these two activities, I am interested in many other things. This past summer I attended the National Forensic Consortium, a debate program at Stanford University. There I participated in numerous debates. I am also interested in politics. This past summer, as part of the Washington Workshops Congressional program, I worked as an intern for Maryland First District Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest. An eye-opening experience, I saw, first-hand, the American democratic process.
At School, I participate in many clubs that reflects my interests. I am a member of the Model United Nations club, Fed Challenge and the Community relations group. The Model United Nations club continues my interest in politics. It is a club that participates in the Harvard Model United Nations every December as a part of hundreds of other schools to create a mock United Nations. Fed Challenge is an economic club that participates in a competition sponsored by the US Federal Reserve Bank, where the club creates a presentation that recommends a raising or lowering of the interest rate. Finally, the Community Relations group is a committee that is comprised of both students and teachers chosen by the headmaster. The goal of the committee is to determine the atmosphere of the school and make recommendations for the headmaster.
Son of Edward Dzeng and Shi-Yuan Dzeng
When asked to describe myself, one phrase I am bound to use is 'Taiwanese- American.' Despite being born and raised in the United States, I feel unbreakable ties with Taiwan and its culture. I speak both Mandarin and Taiwanese at home, in addition to attending the Washington School of Chinese language and Culture for twelve years. I have taken Taiwanese folk dancing lessons for five years and serve as a teaching assistant. Dancing is both an outlet for me to express myself and an outlet for me to share Taiwanese culture with others. I have performed at public places such as the Kennedy center, award banquets (including an instance in which Tiger Woods was present), libraries, Montgomery Mall, Richard Montgomery's International Night, and Montgomery County's Ethnic Heritage Celebration. Another way I spread awareness about Taiwanese culture is through my involvement in Richard Montgomery's Asian American Club. As the treasurer, I aid in planning events for this club and often will center them around informing the public about the strength and beauty of the Taiwanese/ Asian community. In terms of the TAA, I plan to take part in TAA's community service activities by performing at various nursing homes and other public establishments.
Due to the fact that my parents were raised in Taiwan, I have inherited many of the morals and virtues that my parents were raised with. One of the most predominant would be the importance of academic success. Like typical Taiwanese parents, my parents have always stressed the importance of education. However, I have come to realize that somewhere along the line, their dreams for academic success have become my dream. I am a senior at Richard Montgomery and take part in the International Baccalaureate Program. I work hard to succeed in school and the hours of study have resulted in me developing a true love for learning. I rank among the top 5% in my school. I have also been awarded with several honors such being accepted into my school's National Honors Society and Chinese National Honors Society. I have also received the National Merit Scholarship Honorable Mention and Maryland Distinguished Scholars Award.
While academic excellence is important to me, I find being a well-rounded person even more important. Hence, I am involved in many extracurricular activities in and out of school. My love for Taiwanese folk dancing has sparked an interest in other forms of dance, and thus I have also studied ballet and jazz for several years. My passion for dance revolves around the fact that it allows me express myself. I find the same passion and comfort in music. I have studied the piano for more than ten years and currently I study with a teacher from the Peabody Conservatory. In addition to the piano, I also study the flute. I have played the flute in marching band, concert band, and pit orchestra. In the area of the flute, the musical groups that I participate in have won state competition. Knowing my love for dance and music, it should not be surprising that I also have an interest in drama. I am a member of Chapter #1748's International Thespian Society and I have participated in six of my school's drama productions. I have had several dance solos in these productions and I have also served as a Sign Language interpreter for the audience members that are deaf. I also play an active leadership role in my school. I am a member of the Student Government Association and a board member for the Human Relations Association. In the summer, I work at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and the State's Attorney's Office.
I would like to thank my parents for their constant love and support. It is because of them that I have been able to reach so many of my goals. And it is because of them that I will continue to see my dreams materialize.
Daughter of Tai Ping Yeh and Suzanne Yeh