Being that Give2Asia works with a slew of highly qualified field advisors in 25 countries, we will be creating profile pieces on one field advisor per country. The intent is to provide on-the-ground insight into each local scene, in addition to interesting projects that have been accomplished or are currently underway. The profile pieces will also present the opportunity to spotlight our local partners - the field advisors - and their interests and accomplishments in your professional and personal lives. We'll continue our spotlight series with Saveetha Meganathan, our field advisor in India.
Could you tell us about where you live, and have lived?
I spent most of my life in Taiwan, in a city called Taipei, but I did go to graduate school in Minnesota for two years.
Where in Asia have you traveled? Is there anywhere you’d like to travel?
I’ve traveled to Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, as well as Russia, and New Zealand if you consider them a part of Asia. I would love to travel to Eastern Europe too.
Can you tells us about your work for Give2Asia?
As a field advisor, I oversee projects and the distribution of their funds in Taiwan, and act as a liaison between headquarters, donors, and grantees. I make professional recommendations for donors when they choose partners, which often involves a lot of translating on my part. It’s actually more than a language barrier - there is a lot of cultural miscommunication too. Sometimes donors and grantees can get frustrated that the other party is not behaving as they would expect, so it is my job to make sure they are on the same page.
How did you start working for Give2Asia?
It was a pretty big jump. My first job was actually as an agent for Taiwanese baseball players. Fun fact: I was the first and only female agent ever! I also acted as a project manager elsewhere, but was really excited when I learned about Give2Asia. I didn’t realize there was such an old American NPO doing international grantmaking. I find it rewarding working for an NPO, because I can really, personally contribute to a good cause. One of Give2Asia’s representatives in China, Ms. Xiao, also really inspired me when I met her during a training program I was attending in Beijing.
What about your down time? What do you do for fun?
Free time is rare; I’m also a Secretary General of an NPO, own a translating service company, and write for several online columns. And that’s not even mentioning my one-year old daughter. I do like to read and work out, however, and I’m always glad for "me" time.
Can you tell us about some of the things you see as a field advisor in Taiwan?
Well, I see a lot of active NPO’s, and I really think that reflects the generosity of Taiwanese people. It also reflects the amount of natural disasters we see here [Typhoon Meranti was en route to Taiwan at the time of the interview]. I am also really happy to see the way we support our aging society here, and how a lot of us here are trying to develop a social and financial infrastructure in preparation for the future.
If you could make just one point stick, what would you want G2A’s community of donors and grantees to know about the social sector in Taiwan?
Taiwan is in a gray area between an emerging and a developed country. Despite the economic growth in the 80's (the “Taiwan Miracle”) and the successful political transformation, there are social issues that still need to be addressed. Natural disaster preparedness, education, and solutions for an aging society are our current focus.
And now the lightning round! Favorite song?
All Star by Smash Mouth. (“I just love it!”)
What are you reading now?
The Art of Fielding. (“Is it about baseball?” “It is, yes.”)
Baseball. (“You might have guessed!”)
None. (“I can’t choose, I like everything!”)
If you could have a super power?
Reading minds. (“So I can help people better!”)
If you could give your past self some advice?
To be true to yourself (“It took me a while to accept that I am alright being an introvert”), and to buy Apple stocks!