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Midshipmen Conduct Workshop at Yale Conference

Posted on: February 25, 2014 08:00 EST by Midshipman 2nd Class Gabby Dimaapi

Midshipmen 1st Class Eugene Yang, Justin Chock, and Jack Chang represented the U.S. Naval Academy at the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) East Coast Conference (ECC) at Yale University Feb 13-16.

ITASA is an annual conference that unites and empowers Taiwanese-American students nationwide.

The ECC attracts hundreds of undergraduate students from colleges such as the University of Maryland, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, the Naval Academy, and West Point. The midshipmen were invited to host a seminar designed and submitted by Yang.

The conference included many workshops and activities to promote new connections, cultural unity, and the skills, resources, and knowledge necessary for innovating positive change.

“We were unsure at first how people would receive our workshop and if they would be able to connect with us and our topics of leadership and dealing with crisis situations as a team,” said Yang. “In the end we ran an extremely professional workshop, and all of our feedback was that it was incredibly enlightening and a great experience.”

The workshop, entitles “Leaders and the Military” was a huge success, said Chang.

“The military atmosphere we created definitely stood out as a unique, fun, and interactive learning experience,” he said. “I’m sure the impression we left encouraged participants to be confident in their abilities and empowered them to go out and make meaningful contributions within their own communities.”

This year’s keynote speaker was Andrew Yang, founder and CEO of Venture For America, an organization that helps new college graduates find careers that they want instead of jobs related to what they studied in school. The corporation sends college graduates to low-cost cities such as Cleveland and Detroit to work in start-ups. Andrew Yang was a lawyer before pursuing entrepreneurship.

During the workshops, the midshipmen spoke about their experiences as Asian-Americans in the Navy and their leadership involvement at the Naval Academy.

“The conference was great for being able to both teach and learn leadership and for the chance to represent the Naval Academy in New Haven. The weekend exposed me to a lot of new ideas, especially the perspectives of unique civilians that the military does not often have a chance to hear from,” said Chock. “Both of our groups bring critical viewpoints to our discussions, and we must be able to compliment one another's viewpoints if we hope to solve complex problems as military officers and college graduates.”

Yang continues to discuss topics covered in the workshop with participants via Facebook and e-mail.

“All of the participants stayed nearly an hour after blowing off the next part of the conference to have a prolonged Q&A with all of us, and we really got to dive deep into the life at the Naval Academy,” said Yang.

Although the conference was geared towards Taiwanese-Americans, the lessons taught and learned through activities such as the keynote lecture and social gatherings could be used by people of any background.

“The conference also taught me a lot about a heritage similar to my own. Although I am not Taiwanese, I found that the lessons learned here were just as applicable,” said Chock. “The themes of self-knowledge, identity, and strength through honoring one's heritage expand beyond the Taiwanese community and are important for every one of us to understand regardless of ethnicity.”

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