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Taiwanese-Americans Hope to Strengthen Community, Spur Business in Upstate NY

Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: December 15, 2022
Members of the local Taiwanese-American community, staff at Northern Medical Center, and others pose for a photo at the Center on Dec. 10, 2022. (Image: Vision Times)

MIDDLETOWN, NY — Members of the local Taiwanese-American community gathered at the Northern Medical Center in Middletown for an inaugural celebration to mark the founding of the NYS Orange County Taiwanese Association. 

Organizer Eric Yeh spoke with Vision Times at the Saturday, Dec. 10 event about his vision for a non-political, community-oriented network that would bring the “many Taiwanese in this area” together and help them engage with the broader society in Orange County and the surrounding region. 

Taiwan and the U.S. have a long history of amicable relations; the island of 23 million is governed as the Republic of China (ROC), which was a major ally in World War II and throughout the Cold War. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese have made America their home. 

“We want to give those of us from Taiwan an opportunity to connect and cooperate,” Yeh said, noting that while there is a relatively strong Taiwanese-American community in New York City, resources start to thin out the further one ventures upstate. 

Eric Yeh, organizer and founder of the NYS Orange County Taiwanese Association, speaks with Vision Times at the Northern Medical Center on Dec. 10, 2022. (Image: Vision Times)

He described the Association as a “platform to interact with the local government as well as get in touch with businesses in Taiwan, who might see it as an opportunity for mutual benefit.” 

Zhou Jinghao, a Taiwanese-American businessman, traveled to the gathering from New York City. He said he was “very happy to see our fellow Taiwanese here in Orange County create an organization to create more dialogue and bring people closer together.” 

Health and education

Also at the Taiwanese Association event was Dr. Jingduan Yang, who heads Northern Medical Center.

Dr. Yang is enthusiastic about hosting various community events at the Medical Center, such as that held by the Taiwanese Association. He noted that many of the staff at the center hail from Taiwan, and that “Taiwan has many unique contributions to medical science and the health industry.” 

“As we build our medical center and health institute, we hope to have closer cooperation with Taiwanese health professionals and the Taiwanese health industry,” he added in his conversation with Vision Times. 

“In fact we already enjoy a great deal of cooperation, because Taiwan is one of the most advanced worldwide in many fields, be it in medical education, hospital management, or medical technology.”

Dr. Jingduan Yang, CEO of Northern Medical Center, speaks with Vision Times at the inaugural gathering of the NYS Orange County Taiwanese Association on Dec. 10, 2022. (Image: Vision Times)

But due to pressure from the communist-ruled mainland China, which claims Taiwan as a province and works against Taiwan’s international participation, much of what the island has to offer is suppressed. 

“We hope to develop closer links between Middletown and Taiwan, and have their outstanding medical expertise demonstrate itself here.”  

Dr. Yang also pointed to a developing partnership with the broader community, including the Middletown police department

“Our first project going into the new year will be developing a health fitness program for the police department. Their experience will be useful as data for our research as well, since they are a profession with many risks and under a great deal of pressure. .. We hope to help them with that.”

In the long term, Dr. Yang said Northern Medical Center aims to make Middletown the “healthiest city in America.”  

Ms. Zhou Wenwen, a veteran music professional from Taiwan who teaches at the neighboring Northern Academy of the Arts, is excited to make more inroads with local Taiwanese and her homeland.  

She moved to the U.S. in 2011, becoming an orchestra conductor for Shen Yun Performing Arts, which is based in the Orange County town of Deerpark. 

Ms. Zhou Wenwen, a teacher of music at Northern Academy of the Arts, speaks with Vision Times at the Northern Medical Center on Dec. 10, 2022. (Image: Vision Times)

“I became a music teacher once Northern Academy of the Arts was set up” later in the decade, Zhou said, describing the school’s focus on music, fine art, dance, and general academics. 

While introducing Northern’s specializations in the arts and humanities of both Eastern and Western traditions, she noted the school’s partnership with NASA as well as its insistence on moral education and discipline. 

Zhou described a middle school student from a Jewish family. “The student’s father said that he was very pleased that the school emphasized discipline and had a moral development focus.” 

“Whatever techniques you learn or knowledge you acquire, they are only useful if you become a good person,” she told Vision Times. Northern enrolls students from elementary through high school. 

Many of the school’s students and faculty are from the broader Chinese-American community and include Taiwanese. 

The new Taiwanese Association, she said, “will help us promote our school among Taiwanese interested in sending their children to study in America. If they want to study arts it’s a very good choice. We focus on the essence of both Chinese culture and that of the West.”