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​This is Tsai Ing-wen, the newly elected president of Taiwan.

Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images.

Next to Holly Holm, Tsai might be the most badass woman on the planet right now. 


Why?

1. She's the first of her kind.

This might come as a shock to you, but Taiwan has never elected a woman to presidential office before. In fact, you’d have to travel back to the end of the Qing Dynasty to find the last woman who held power during an era there: Empress Dowager Longyu, who abdicated the throne back in 1912. While Taiwan’s status as a country might be a source of great contention — it operates completely independent of China but is recognized as a “sovereign state” by many — Tsai’s win makes her one of around two dozen or so female world leaders currently holding office. 

Out of nearly 200 countries. 

GIF via "Star Trek."

2. No, seriously, she’s the first.

Aside from being Taiwan’s first ever female president, Tsai is also the first unmarried president to hold office in the country’s history as well as the first person to receive the title without previously having held an elected post of any kind. I can’t even begin to convey how unprecedented that is: It’s like if a former real estate mogul-turned-reality-show-star ran for president in America and actually won!

3. She is a completely self-made woman.

Unlike South Korea's current president, Park Guen Hye, whose father was president of the country from 1962 until his assassination in 1979, Tsai had no familial ties to any of Taiwan’s political parties before deciding to run for president. She had no man’s footsteps to follow in, which makes her ascension to the highest office all the more incredible. 

Instead, she’s the daughter of an automobile repairman and the last of his four wives. Tsai was, in fact, discouraged from pursuing her political aspirations early and often throughout her childhood.

4. She ain’t no slouch, either, though.

A brief list of Tsai's credentials:

  • Master of laws recipient, Cornell University Law School
  • Doctorate in law, London School of Economics
  • Former professor, School of Law at Soochow University and the National Chengchi University
  • Former chairperson, Fair Trade Commission
  • Former consultant, Mainland Affairs Council and National Security Council

A brief list of my credentials:

  • Voted "Most Talkative" in high school
  • Once hit a hole-in-one
  • Likes pizza

Tsai wins.

5. Also, she cleaned up a corrupt political party.

As if Tsai wasn’t facing enough obstacles on her road to the presidency, she also happened to be aligned with the Democratic Progressive Party, which was entrenched in scandal. 

Interestingly, Tsai became the trustworthy voice that the DPP needed in turbulent times, calling for the party to focus on its goal of defending Taiwan’s sovereignty as a nation while maintaining a peaceful relationship with mainland China. She was elected as the DPP’s chairperson in 2008 and vowed to rebuild the party’s confidence and defend social justice while continuing to push for Taiwan’s sovereignty.

6. She also bounced back from defeat.

In 2010, Tsai ran for mayor of New Taipei city in her native Taipei and was defeated by Eric Chu. Just two years later, Tsai became the first female presidential candidate, running against incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou. 

How did Tsai react to her defeats, you ask? Oh, only by writing a memoir, creating a bilingual website devoted to Taiwan affairs, and founding the Thinking Taiwan Foundation — an organization aimed at “acting as a catalyst for social action through participation” — while patiently waiting until the day she could announce her candidacy four years later. 

Again, for the sake of comparison, I went to the grocery store and the bank yesterday and needed a nap.

7. She won the presidency by a landslide.

With 99% of Taiwan’s voters reporting, Tsai defeated Eric Chu — yes, the very same Eric Chu — in an absolute sweep, securing 56% of the vote to Chu’s 31% and nearly twice as many total votes (6,894,744 to 3,813,365, respectively) in the process. Not since Kelly Clarkson defeated Justin Guarini to win the first "American Idol" has the democratic world seen such a one-sided butt-kicking. 

8. She’s a fierce negotiator.

At 59 years of age and with a reputation among her colleagues as naturally shy, Tsai isn’t exactly the most intimidating figure in politics at a first glance. She is, however, a force of nature at the negotiation table, having been compared to everyone from "The Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher to current German president Angela Merkel. 

“Before you attack or criticize her, she will have an answer ready before you even fire a bullet,” said Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor and Tsai's first deputy.

9. She’s an LGBTQ rights activist.

In addition to Tsai’s promises to restore Taiwan’s struggling economy, she’s also a staunch activist for marriage equality, regularly posting videos of same-sex marriages to her social media accounts. Before her election, Tsai took to social media to voice her support for the gay pride festivities happening at the time. 

"In the face of love, everyone is equal. Let everyone have the freedom to love and to pursue their happiness. I am Tsai Ing-wen, and I support marriage equality," she said in a video posted on her Facebook page.

So not only is she attempting to broker a peace between her native sovereignty and China, but she’s also helping promote a greater global health through social policy as well? Bad. Ass.

10. She’s a wine-drinking cat lady like the rest of us.

As if you needed another reason to like her.

While owning a cat is not intrinsically badass, Tsai’s badassness has long been established, so by the transitive property of mathematics, her two cats, Tsai Hsiang Hsiang and Ah Tsai, are therefore the most badass cats on the planet. According to The Guardian, Tsai "very much enjoys sitting down with a glass of red wine, reading a book, and spending quality time" with those very cats.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of Taylor Swift announcing her run for president of the Unites States in 2020. 

GIF via Diet Coke.

So, to recap: Tsai Ing-wen is a trailblazing, self-made, tenacious-negotiating cat lady who promotes peace and supports everyone’s basic right to love freely. 

Sounds like a leader we could all get behind, does it not?

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

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Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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