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Dis-Oriented’ confronts stereotypes

Katie Carlisle | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Three Middle Eastern and Asian-American women will perform their piece “Dis-Oriented” at Saint Mary’s Thursday to challenge ethnic stereotypes, following last week’s Diverse Students’ Leadership Conference (DSLC).

Stephanie Bridges, director of multicultural services and student programs, discovered “Dis-Oriented” as she searched for acts related to May’s Asian Pacific American Heritage month.

“It will allow [the audience] to look at Asian heritage from multiple perspectives and gives everyone an opportunity to look at the impact stereotypes have,” Bridges said.

The most prevalent stereotype is that Asian culture is synonymous with Chinese, Bridges said, which is precisely what these women intend to disprove.

Performers Coke Nakamoto, Zahra Noorbakhsh and Thao Nguyen drew from their own life experiences to write skits about the struggles they face as Asian-American women. The women are Japanese, Iranian and Vietnamese, respectively.

The women will combine theatre and education in their three-skit show. In “Dis-Oriented,” each woman presents her own unique story and perspective on Asian stereotypes.

“This should be a great opportunity to take a look at a different cultural experience through theatre, but also an educative experience about the transitions other cultures make in America,” said Bridges.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL).

CWIL director Elaine Meyer-Lee said the event celebrates unique aspects of Asian culture.

“We believe that it is important to recognize and value the rich tradition within every ethnic group, and to question stereotypes such as that of Asian-American women as some kind of ‘model minority,'” Meyer-Lee said.

Meyer-Lee said she hopes “Dis-Oriented” will impact the College. Everyone can take something away from this event, whether it be critically examining personal beliefs or simply enjoying the comedic performances.

“We look forward to this performance as an engaging and powerful intercultural experience for our whole community,” she said.

The show will open with a performance at noon Thursday in the Student Center Lounge. A second performance will be held at 7 p.m. in the Moreau Little Theatre.