SA remembers a friend

FASA organizes surprise memorial for late Taiwanese Student Association treasurer

On February 23, 2014

  • Jean Zhao, a sophomore exercise science major (right), and Barry Lee, a junior business administration major, sign a card in memory of Benjamin Wu. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum

On Sunday, Taiwanese Student Association (TSA) President Chun Ming Cho entered 145 Student Union expecting just another meeting.

Instead, he entered a room full of loud music, colorful streamers and members of the Filipino American Student Association (FASA), which organized a celebration honoring TSA's late treasurer.

On Dec. 19, Benjamin Kuan Yu Wu, a sophomore from Taiwan, died in a car crash on Millersport Highway near UB's North Campus. FASA planned the event as a celebration rather than a time of mourning. Members from almost every international Student Association were there to celebrate Wu.

"That doesn't happen very often, especially in the SA family," said Corinne Zee, a junior exercise science and vice president of FASA. "I decided on behalf of FASA that I would set up this big party, celebration because in Buddhism you don't mourn death. You celebrate death."

Zee said she and her peers did not know the student who had passed away was a member of SA.

During the International Councilsmeeting at the start of the semester, clubs went around the room with their announcements. When it was TSA's turn, Cho, a junior chemical and biological engineering major, announced TSA's treasurer had passed.

"We are really close friends, like brothers actually," Cho said. "Sometimes I'm still thinking about Benjamin."

Cho met Wu during a small party for Taiwanese international students. There are only around 20 international students from Taiwan and the gathering was a chance for the new students to make friends and get more comfortable, Cho said.

From there, the two and Jack Lai, TSA's event coordinator, became close friends. They would play League of Legends together and take trips to Canada.

Cho was shocked when he heard the news because Wu had died the day he was planning to return to Taiwan. The two friends were going home for winter break and had plans to meet in Taipei to hang out.

After Wu's death, Cho went back to Taiwan and met with Wu's parents and attended the funeral. Cho said Wu's parents didn't want their son's peers to know it was Wu who had died in the car accident over winter break.

At the time, the only news of the event was that a UB international student had been in this accident. The UB community did not know the victim had been Wu, the TSA treasurer.

Matthew Siwiec, a senior Asian studies and economics major and SA international council coordinator, said he did not know Wu personally, but was very surprised by the loss of an SA member.

He didn't realize it was Wu until Zee told him. He thought someone would have contacted SA about it.

"We have this feeling of family within the council because we do a lot of events together," Siwiec said. "It was very respectable of [Zee] and very amazing of her to go out and organize this for one of the clubs."

SA Vice President Judy Mai commended Zee for the amount of work she put into hosting this celebration. Mai believes it was necessaryto show support for someone who was a representative in SA.

FASA prepared food and drinks for the event and provided a large poster board for attendees to sign and to write a note in remembrance of Wu.

TSA named previous secretary, Maki Nakamura, the new treasurer.

Cho said they are adjusting to the change in e-board members and will host events and general meetings in the near future.

He expressed gratitude for the support of SA and the international clubs that partook in the event.



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