The tafDrama

tafLabs & tafMedia are proud to present the long-anticipated tafDrama! It was originally supposed to be aired during TAF Night, but…right…we were rather busy getting the Slideshow finished. Better late than never?

What inspired the TAF Drama you ask? Creativity? Fanciful imagination? Ennui from staring at computer screens too long? No one truly knows. However, it has proven to be a worthy challenge to develop skills one could only dream of in the art of guerrilla filmmaking, i.e. conceiving the story as you go along, filming randomly, etc. That also explains the secret powers Howard’s character had in changing costume so often.

In any case, we’re sure that you’ll find some sort of underlying moral hidden deep within the story. Also, the Korean title makes no sense in Korean and hopefully won’t really say something in Korean. It’s supposed to say “Realizing Awesome”. Props to anyone who can translate the Japanese letters!

So without further ado… ENJOY!

RECAP: Fast & Furious Workshop on Racism

Editor’s note: On this blog we’re going to sometimes recap various workshops held at TAF. They’ll include write-ups by the staff members that helped facilitate the workshops, along with any slides or videos that were used. We hope that both campers AND parents will be able to gain something from these entries, as either a reminder of lessons learned, or as a way to experience and understand a very important part of TAF, the workshops, which are unfortunately under-represented in what the Parents usually see at TAF Night, in the Slideshow, or on the TAF DVD’s. So TAF Parents, please enjoy!

Our first RECAP is for the “Fast and Furious” workshop from the Junior High Program, written by JH Counselor Kevin Lee.

You always have to be careful when you talk about race because you don’t want to understate it to a point where it becomes seemingly insignificant. But you also don’t want to overstate it to the point where you radicalize, dichotomize, or otherize your audience. Therefore, to maintain that balance in this year’s Junior High program, Ann Wu, Justin Yang, and myself focused on three major goals in our Fast and Furious workshop about race: understanding stereotypes, breaking down social barriers, and reaffirming the campers’ self-identity.

With stereotypes, we wanted the campers to discuss moments in their lives where they’ve been stereotyped, but we also wanted them to understand that they consciously or subconsciously use stereotype themselves. We began by having the campers list Asian American or Taiwanese American stereotypes in their small group, and then compiling it into a big list for everyone to see. By having a tangible list, it allowed small groups to confront stereotyping and personal experiences with stereotypes more easily. Bringing it full circle, we also wanted the Junior High campers to acknowledge that while they were victims of stereotyping, they also stereotyped as well.

To do that, we showed pictures of people like Josef Mengele, Nelson Mandela, MIA, and others and let each camper shout out what their first impression of each person was. After we showed all the pictures, we would reveal who each person is and what they had done. Each person would have a list of accomplishments opposite of what their stereotype was. For example, one picture we used was that of General John L. Dewitt. Imagine a stoic general in full uniform and the adjectives associated with that picture. The campers responded to that picture with words like “honorable”, “patriotic”, “proud”, and “general” only to find out later that General Dewitt was a huge proponent and organizer of Japanese Internment in World War II, his famous quote being, “A Jap is a Jap, whether or not he is an American Citizen or not.” Not very patriotic or honorable at all.

To break down social barriers, we showed a video of famous Asian/Taiwanese Americans in the entertainment industry. We compiled a list of questions about stereotyping and social barriers for musician Dawen Wang, hip-hop group Far*East Movement, film producer Karen Lin, Formosa Betrayed actor Adam Wang, and the writers of Asian American focused comic book Secret Identities.

In a “Post-Obama” world, many people think that all the social barriers for women or racial minorities have been torn down. Even the campers have the same impression as many of the Junior High students in my small group thought that social progress for many Taiwanese Americans was “good” or at least “getting better.” However, while these speakers in the video are Asian American pioneers and leaders in the entertainment, many of the campers admitted that they didn’t know any of these entertainers. Asian American representation in the media is still heavily based on stereotypes and that shows that, if anything, America has a misconception about race relations in our modern world. The recent arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates and the backlash that followed reveals that perfectly. We wanted to make sure that our campers realized some of these barriers still exist, and that there is still much room for progress and growth.

Finally there is identity reaffirmation. We wanted to make sure that the campers saw themselves as Asian or Taiwanese American, but only in a smaller scope of their greater identity. Many times I’ve seen people radicalize or otherize their experience as Asian Americans and ostracize themselves from the greater community. It was important that they understand that they are more than an Asian American boy or girl. While we all share cultural backgrounds, each individual has a different path and a different identity that is beyond race, gender, socioeconomics, and so on. It is critical for us to embrace our culture or heritage, but only in terms of our greater autonomous identity.

All of the counselors came away with the experience feeling confident about the JH campers ability to comprehend some of the issues. Other issues, we realized, would be better resolved by time than by discourse. Overall, we were amazed by the maturity of the JH campers in discussing such issues; I know for a fact that I was not thinking or talking about such issues at such a level at their age.

However, the discussion doesn’t stop there. The pursuit for great social equality is an ever-evolving process that melds with a greater society. To keep up with that, I recommend TAFers read and educate themselves as much as possible. Blogs are a great medium for people of all ages to do just that. A few recommendations:
* Angryasianman is a blog that updates its readers on the most recent news in the greater Asian American community.
* Slant Eye for the Round Eye is a blog focused on but not specific to Asian America and its role in the media.
* 8asians is a community blog where a handful of Asian Americans (including myself) from all different backgrounds and places that post about anything and everything pertaining to Asia America.

– Kevin Lee TAF’09 JH Staff

TAF 2009 Slideshow: Sprout!

To start your week off the best way ever, tafMedia, in association with tafLabs, is proud to present the TAF 2009 Slideshow! We’d like to say a lot of careful planning and editing went into the production this year, but while that is mostly true, we also brought literal meaning to “finishing at the last minute”.

We were going to piece together a timeline of events that happened simultaneously from both TAF Night in Cordier Auditorium and from the tafLabs/tafMedia offices in Helman 106. But in the end, a step-by-step recount of that fateful night isn’t as fun. It’s a little too technical, we’re personally tired of timelines (that’s how our editing software works), and since we’re tafMedia and strive to be artsy sometimes, we don’t mind yielding to the right side of our brain and letting these instances “that saved that TAF from having no slideshow” live on forever in TAF lore. A lesson: Start putting the slideshow together before Friday night at 10pm!!!

You can tell your grandchildren (or your current little sibs’ future little sib) that it took sleeping in shifts, cooling overheating laptops with bags of ice and frozen french fries, frenzied text messages, purposeful TAF Night MC stalls, the fastest quarter-mile Kev Yau has sprinted in years, and one last impromptu Bob Lin speech, to get the slideshow DVD burned and delivered to Manchester staff when it needed to be…with 30 seconds to spare! No, really. Only 30 seconds between the time we gave the DVD to Manchester and the time the DVD started playing at 9:29:52p.m. EST. WHEW. Considering the final product, we hope you’ll agree that it was all worth it for each and every frame, and finally of course, that awesome was realized.

Youth Slideshow coordinators: Eric Kao, Nicole Hsieh, Andrew Kuo
tafLabs & tafMedia team: Anna Wu, Steve Wang, Kev Yau, Jon Lee
Special thanks to Dan Lu & Andrew Lo and others for providing us with photos, John Chen, Chikuan Wu, and Pamela Lin for keeping us fed with steak and pie, and Jason Hsu for animating the end shot (originally done with glowsticks by the Slideshow coordinators!).

The five songs used are (in order):
1. Muse – Starlight
2. The Fray – All at Once
3. The Killers – Human
4. Aerosmith – Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing
5. Jars of Clay – Fade to Grey


TAF 2009 Slideshow: Sprout! from tafmediachannel on Vimeo.

Daily Recap- Friday

Yes, we are somewhat late in posting this daily recap for Friday, but we think you might excuse the delay when we explain our Saturday slideshow saga in an upcoming post.

For now, enjoy the look back at TAF Carnival and the creative ingenuity of TAF staff, creating fun for everyone by making the most of simple materials and clever ideas.

Produced by tafMedia in conjunction with tafLabs
Edited by Anna Wu
Narrated by Andrew Lo
Video by Eddie Huang

Do you miss TAF?

Well, the week of TAF is over, but tafLabs is just getting started. So as our first post-TAF gesture, we present a gift to you to ameliorate those pangs of withdrawal: a brand new desktop wallpaper with tons of beautiful faces ready to sit on your computer’s background to be a constant reminder of all the love we share.

TAF 2009 Group Photo

Right click on the photo and select “Save Image As” in order to download the 1280×800 pixel version. Then right click on your desktop to select the photo as your new wallpaper. Or depending on your browser, you might also be able to skip a step by directly clicking “Set as Desktop Background.”

We want to extend a special welcome to all our new blog visitors. Please check back often or follow our RSS feed, because we have many more treats, surprises, and updates to come!

Daily Recap: Thursday

A new look at an old TAF classic – big/little sibs picnic and water fight!

Produced by tafMedia in conjunction with tafLabs
Edited by Kevin Yau
Narrated by Bob Lin

Daily Recap: Wednesday

We’re already halfway through the week!? Here is a quick glimpse at the Wednesday that just flew by.

Produced by tafMedia in conjunction with tafLabs
Edited by Anna Wu
Narrated by Alison Yang