In 1992, President Bush signed Act HR5572, which named May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In 1999, Congress designated the second week in May as Taiwanese American Heritage Week to recognize the contributions of Taiwanese Americans.
Since the initiation of our Passport to Taiwan festival in 2002, it has become the largest outdoor Taiwanese American event in the entire United States. In New York, the event is viewed as the largest Asian American festival.
We are grateful for the ongoing support we have received over the years as we approach two decades of celebration. Thank you for your participation in the festival. Enjoy!
Passport to Taiwan Committee 2019
HISTORY IN PROGRESS...
A NEW CHAPTER
The Taiwanese American community has seen tremendous growth in the United States since the 1960’s. After the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 was established, which repealed the Asian Exclusion Acts, the stage was set for immigrants from Asia to immigrate in equal numbers as from Europe. Taiwan was no exception as the first wave of young immigrants sought new opportunities in North America during the late 60’s and early 70’s.
THE FIRST WAVE
The initial wave of Taiwanese immigrants came as well-educated physicians, health professionals, scientists and professors. Others came for graduate school education and to seek a better future for their families. The “American Dream” was real and desired by many. During an era of martial law in Taiwan (1949-1989), many early Taiwanese immigrants also sought refuge in America from the numerous arrests and executions of the ruling Kuomintang party’s “White Terror.” Taiwanese immigrants settled in major metropolitan areas typically around new industrial centers or cities where universities and graduate programs could be found. Early Taiwanese American communities were concentrated in areas such as Monterey Park, CA outside of Los Angeles (earning it the original moniker “Little Taipei”) and in Flushing, NY. Unlike other Asian ethnic communities that created ethnic enclaves such as Chinatowns or Koreatowns, most Taiwanese during that time tended to be dispersed in suburban regions.
A STRONG NETWORK
The Taiwanese American community remained strong in its association. New immigrant families would connect with the growing organizations that were established with the first immigrant communities. In the 1970’s, The Taiwanese Association of America(TAA) was one of the first nationwide networks of locally active chapters in most major metropolitan areas. Other organizations serving varied interests would soon follow. Each of these organizations held local meetings, sponsored cultural events, and met at national conferences. Often, these were vehicles by which the community would voice their support for Taiwan. Organizations such as the Formosan Association for Public Affairs and the Formosa Foundation were formed to support Taiwan on the political front and help establish its recognition on the international stage.
THE NEXT GENERATION
As the community matured and immigration trends shifted and diversified over the following decades, the Taiwanese American community witnessed new waves of immigrants. The San Francisco Bay area’s Silicon Valley tech boom during the late 80’s and early 90’s drew large waves of Taiwanese immigrants. Organizations and infrastructure established during this period reflect the change in demographics and a growing community in America. Networks brought together by several groups from coast to coast reflected a generational shift and the diversity within the community. In time, an emerging 2nd generation of Taiwanese Americans would begin to establish themselves as new groups were founded. A whole host of other organizations would reflect the visions and dreams of the parent organizations that spawned them.
FROM A STORIED PAST TO PROMISING FUTURE
Taiwan continues to evolve into a vibrant young democracy that has seen peaceful transitions of power between the two major political parties. Furthermore, the diversity within the immigrant groups and those who declare themselves to be “Taiwanese” have broadened in recent decades. It is estimated that between half to one million Taiwanese Americans reside in the United States, but this number is often undercounted due to overlap with those identifying as also ethnically “Chinese.” The future is promising as a stronger sense of Taiwanese American identity and pride emerges, and ideas between generations are shared, molded, and transformed. Even as the young 3rd generation of Americans of Taiwanese heritage is blossoming, the community still finds ways to connect with a new demographic of bicultural Taiwanese 1st and 1.5 generation that come to settle in the United States. As we move forward, one thing is for certain: Taiwanese America is a strong, proud, and growing community with a story to tell.
Information Provided by Taiwanese American.org