Why Does Culture Matter?
When roots are deep, there is no need to fear the wind. - African Proverb
落葉歸根 ( luò yè guī gēn) Falling leaves return to their roots. - Chinese Proverb
What Role Does Culture Play In Our Mission And Vision?
An understanding of cultural heritage is critical for our campers, staff, and leadership to become rooted whole person leaders through Acceptance and Belonging, Identity and Development, and Leadership and Service.
Acceptance & Belonging
As Taiwanese Americans, our beliefs, behaviors, and habits may differ from those of mainstream American culture. An understanding of culture helps us accept ourselves as equally worthy and find our own sense of belonging.
Identity & Development
As Taiwanese Americans, our stories are not often represented in mainstream American culture. An understanding of culture helps us make sense of our identities and experiences and develop a sense of self.
As Taiwanese Americans, we are uniquely positioned to lead our communities with our mixed heritages and experiences. An understanding of culture empowers us to use these strengths to lift others up.
We believe that culture is...
“Taiwanese” and “Taiwanese American” are not monolithic labels - they are living, changing, and diverse descriptors that change over time
Heritage is better understood through bottom-up personal stories from each individual, not through top-down historical narratives defined by any one group
Taiwanese Americanness is a complete part of every person with Taiwanese and American heritage, regardless of how much they consciously know or identify
Culture arises from and is best experienced through community
Taiwanese American is a unique identity with a unique set of experiences, even though it may share similarities with other identities
We seek to make cultural understanding accessible and non-judgmental for all of LYF - campers, staff, and leadership.
Traditional culture is approached from a place of discovery and learning and not as a matter of fact. We aspire to make learning about Taiwanese culture fun and approachable and turn future trips to Taiwan full of moments of cultural “awakenings” rather than culture “shocks”.
We start with educating staff before camp.
As an organization, we make sure our staff have a good foundation of Taiwanese and Taiwanese American history while keeping their minds open to the diverse viewpoints of Taiwanese and Taiwanese-American society. We encourage staff to use their knowledge in understanding their own family history, upbringing, and identity. This kind of personal reflection paired with strong background knowledge better equips our staff in helping campers on their own identity journey, and ensures that staff understand the diversity of Taiwanese society and that cultured norms and practices are not locked in for every person or family.
We then engage in dialogue with campers during camp.
As the only Taiwanese American summer camp in the region, we take special care to make sure campers have an ear to talk to about issues specific to our community. Dialogue is encouraged as no one person can have absolute knowledge and authority on culture. For campers, all programming is run in English and while proficiency/fluency in one’s heritage language(s) is something anyone can aspire to, we make it clear to campers that it is not a defining characteristic of being Taiwanese-American.