How did you get involved with TAO?
I was a spring admit, so when I first came to USC I only knew one person and she was involved in TAO, so I went to TAO with her and she introduced me to people there. And I felt like out of all the different organizations I tried, TAO was one of the most open and everyone was really nice and accomodating.
It was my first big friend group at USC and it helped me gain confidence to do more stuff, so I really wanted to get involved with tao and become be the president to give back. Because if I can even do that for one person, that will make a difference. USC can be a big scary place so if you have just a place to go, to make it less scary and more comfortable and more like home, thats what I want to do.
Before you came to USC were you involved with a lot of Taiwanese things?
No I wasn’t, and that’s what made the difference, because I’m from Fresno, it’s predominantly white and Hispanic. For me at home, my mom would teach me Chinese and celebrate different festivals but no one else did, so it’s different when I come to USC and come to TAO, everyone celebrates Lunar Chinese New Year so I thought that was really cool. That was definitely really eye opening.
Can you explain your role as president?
As president I’m mostly in charge of the bigger picture: what organizations does TAO collaborate with – like ITASA, outside of USC, making those connections, and how does TAO look like to outside of USC and within USC. I’m the speaker for TAO and I delegate duties for people. Because thats what presidents are supposed to do, just make sure the club runs, make sure events go on.
I get to control the aspect of: should we have more events? or do we want to expand in new ways? Like we have mentorship program now that’s like connections but for Taiwanese Americans called TAP LA, and we just started that last year.
Do you have a vision for TAO this year?
I guess my vision is to make TAO a place that all Taiwanese Americans can go to – kinda like APASS. So you know that it’s a safe place and that there are people who understand and will want to hang out with you, and not just a place for Taiwanese Americans but anyone who’s interested in Taiwanese culture at all.
In general I try to run TAO so that it’s a place to hang out and just have people to hang out with.
Did you start anything new with your presidency?
What I did a lot is reach out to APASA more than ever because TAO never even went to assembly meetings before. Before we used to be more involved off campus with ITASA and TAP LA but you can’t see that. I think more people see us now because I really push the APASA thing. I think APASA’s super cool, you guys are awesome. It’s cool that all the different APA orgs can work together to get funding and I like the assembly meetings.
I also put on a lot more events but I can’t take all the credit for that because that really depends on my the board since I can’t move forward on anything if my board doesn’t want to. Maybe it’s because I inspired my board, or maybe just because they’re really passionate about TAO, but they’ve wanted to put on tons of events so I help them with that.
How many members do you have that regularly come?
About 30-40 core members – not all at once, it depends on the time of the semester but we see about 30-40 faces.
There are definitely a lot of TAO meetings that are a lot smaller but I don’t mind that. Personally, thats my thing. I definitely feel like I’ve made a lot of really close friends with TAO. Even last Saturday when we went to the tailgate cleanup i was cleaning up with another TAO member and over the course of the day we actually got to know each other really well.
It’s cooler when there’s not so many people that you’re just overwhelmed and trying to say hi to everyone. Thats why I like TAO.
What’s your favorite event from TAO?
I like our free Din Tai Fung banquet.
It’s APASA funded! We have it again this year, it’s the last day of classes – the 5th of December and so we basically get funding from APASA then send out a google form and the first 20 or 30 people who sign up get free Din Tai Fung and then after that its like a regular TAO event: TAO members get a 5 dollar discount, drivers get 10 dollar discount regular people who aren’t in TAO have to pay for their own. But yeah we offer it for free to the first 20 people!
Do you have to be in TAO to get the free spots?
No, not for the free ones because APASA funded events are for all students. And that helps us because we’ve actually met people through that event who are like “omg TAO, you guys are so cool!” and like “lets go enjoy TAO” – so it helps us too. But yeah, the first 20 people completely free as long as you get a spot – it usually fills up within 30 minutes!
What other aspect do you like about it? Other than that its free.
I like that you get to see people who don’t necessarily come out to TAO events because it’s open to all students and you get to meet new people who might be interested in joining TAO. I feel like a lot of people very much think that these organizations are like “oh I have to be Chinese to join this” or “oh I have to be Korean to join this” but then when its a free event everyone comes out and they go “I actually do like these people and it doesn’t matter that I’m not Taiwanese” because it’s not what the whole club is about. It’s mostly about just hanging out with us.
What kind of talent would you like to have?
I have two things I want to do with my life: I want to swing dance like a pro – have you ever seen swing dancing pros? they’re insane! And number 2, I want to be a voiceover artist… like Morgan Freeman. Can you put that instead? Thats my number 1. I want to be a voice over guy
If someone offered you a job today as a voiceover guy would you take it?
Yeah I’d take it! Oh yeah! And then you can just hear me everytime they start a movie and be like “Thats Ryan! I know that guy!”
What are some things on your bucket list?
I want to own a personal helicopter and then drive it places and travel the world like that or I just want to learn how to fly.
And I wanna learn how to use the things that I would develop and engineer. Like if you work at Boeing and you’ve never driven a plane but you work on the mechanics of it…
So you want to actually be able to use the things that you build?
Yeah, I want to personally experience the impact of the things i develop. But also.. big life goals? I think I just want to live a modest life honestly. I just want to get a good middle to upper class job and live in a nice neighborhood like San Marino or something with my wife and kids and then live in a.. quiet suburban neighborhood. I don’t wanna be too close to a city – I can be near a city, but maybe like 7 to 10 miles away..
Dont get me wrong I want to go out and see the world and everything but I don’t need to do any super crazy things. I do want to eat a lot of different foods though.
What’s one thing you want to eat?
I want the best quality steak in the world. Whatever that means. I want to experience it, even if I can only experience it once, that will make my life worth it. I dont think you understand how much I love steak.
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- Lorna Xu