The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Paul Hsu makes his mark on TAS, 20 years after graduation


Every morning, Mr. Paul Hsu (‘94), a member of the Board of Directors, and his daughters make their way across the Tianmu square intersection. The girls ride their scooters down the red and grey checkered sidewalk to the Taipei American School gate. After Mr. Hsu says goodbye to his two girls, he then walks home carrying the two scooters. Every day he follows the same schedule, revisiting TAS’ orange brick wallsthe walls of the school he grew up in.  
Mr. Hsu characterizes himself as “vanilla ice cream with sprinkles on top,” a well-rounded but unexceptional student. However, he was a student who made his mark. In 1993, his team earned first place at volleyball Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools; the evidence of his victory remains on the championship flags in the Upper School gymnasium. During the day, he sat at the back of Mr. Ross Olson’s AP biology class, who still teaches at TAS two decades later. And in his sophomore year, Mr. Hsu joined the school newspaper.
“I wasn’t a good writer, but I joined the journalism class because I thought it was fun to go out and talk to people,” he says. He had planned his class schedule so that he would have all of his classes with his friends, a group of goofballs who were into sports but nevertheless sought academic challenge. He describes Jeff Li (‘94), the co-editor in chief at the time and close friend, as a “brilliant writer who would always be asking questions, pushing the [journalism] class to think differently.  Jeff and Justin Adams (‘94) [the other co-editor] were the reasons why The Blue & Gold became an award-winning publication.”
Although the students were working towards creating a professional image, the student publication thus far had been known as Paws, which did not really have a nice ring to it. Mr. Hsu says, “The newspaper used to look like something out of a word processor, with two tiger paws flanking the banner.” Most of the student staff believed that it sounded amateur, and collectively decided to rename the newspaper the Blue & Gold, which has lasted to this day.
At the time, the most advanced computers they had access to were the original box-shaped Macs, a far cry from the Lenovo laptops used by today’s Blue & Gold. They spent hours designing newspaper layouts, and trying new ideas like using color on the front page. Photos were another hurdle: the staff had to tell the printer which photos would be placed where,and sometimes photos were matched with the wrong articles or could be misplaced onto completely different pages. Nonetheless, the student writers were very diligent in their work. “We were pretty careful about checking quotes, although sometimes there would be misquotes.  And we tried in-depth reporting, even tackling school controversies,” he says. “I do remember we wrote an editorial making a case for freedom of literary expression and use of profanity. A 10th grade English teacher published student stories, and a couple of the stories had expletives, but it wasn’t a reckless use. It was part of the story.”
After Mr. Hsu graduated, he left his newspaper writing days behind; however, journalism never completely left him. “What made me re-interested in journalism was when I started listening to National Public Radio in the U.S. Listening to NPR raised my consciousness and increased my understanding of the world.  [I learned] how important proper journalism is to a democratic society, it keeps the social fabric together.”
Like journalism, Mr. Hsu has not abandoned all of his high school memories completely. He spends his afternoons as an assistant coach for the varsity boys volleyball team. This year they hope to earn their third consecutive gold medal. He still remembers his AP biology class, when he and his friends would “discreetly” mess around, swiping elbows from underneath chins so the head would hit the desk.  Now, he is a member of the school’s Board of Directors, and directs an education foundation and teacher collaborative. He says, “I’ve been at TAS since kindergarten. I went into education because I really enjoyed my experience here, and I want to give back to the TAS community because I’ve benefited from it in so many ways. “

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