The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Who is Joanna Nichols?


Nichols and Alana on Alana’s first day of school.

Joanna Nichols. Does that ring a bell? What about the picture of the woman and a little girl outside the library? Every time I step into the US Information Commons, I wonder, who exactly is Joanna Nichols?
Nichols, born in California in 1954, was drawn to Taiwan in 1978 by her curiosity about Asian culture. Whilst on island she met Kenny Cheng, a Taiwanese businessman she married in 1983. They had two children, Joy (‘07) in 1984, and Alana (‘08) in 1991. Unfortunately, Alana was diagnosed with profound deafness, which hindered her daily life. Determined to find a cure, Nichols and Cheng travelled all over the world, finally finding a cure for Alana’s deafness in Australia.
Following surgery, Alana received Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT). Not only could she speak fluently, but she also attended a regular school with her peers. Alana’s disability eventually influenced her parents’ decision to devote themselves to improving the lives of hearing-impaired children. With the support of her husband, Nichols established the Children’s Hearing Foundation in 1996. CHF became the first organization worldwide that offered AVT in Mandarin.
Dr Aiani, Upper School librarian and K-12 library/media coordinator, described Alana as a “young lady was just like other students in terms of effective academic work and social life.” Alana was given the opportunity to live her life like a regular child because of her mother’s love and relentless effort to find a cure.
A momentous occasion: Joy, Alana and Mr Kenny Cheng at the opening ceremony of the library

Nichols passed away in 2001 after a two year battle with cancer, but she left behind a legacy, taken over by her husband, Kenny Cheng. In commemoration of Nichols, Cheng made a donation to TAS in 2007 which funded the fitness café, redesigning of the libraries, and technological upgrade that took place last year.

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