Presentation 1 - Not Quite: Asian Americans and the "Other" in the Era of the Pandemic and the Uprising

This scholar is fully booked through 2021. This scholar will be available to book for programs in 2022 on September 1, 2021. You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

This presentation encompasses a storytelling performance and a facilitated dialogue. I will be telling personal stories that reflect both the historical status of Asian Americans as well as the impact of current major crises facing us, particularly the rising anti-Asian violence under the pandemic. The stories will address the following concepts.

  • Having citizenship is different from having a sense of home in the United States.
  • Othering immigrants of color through institutionalized practices, processes, and mechanisms.
  • How we reproduce inequalities through individual practices in addition to structural inequities.
  • The importance of intersectionality, such as the connection among gender, race, class, sexuality, immigration, and citizenship.
  • Historical and rising anti-Asian racism under the Pandemic as well as the necessity for cross-racial solidarity and alliance-building.

This presentation is offered in English and Mandarin.

Program Topics

  • Immigration
  • Citizenship
  • Asian American

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Ada via email, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


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Presentation 2 - Our Words, Our Truths: Storytelling as a Performative Memoir for Collective Identity and Community Engagement

This scholar is fully booked through 2021. This scholar will be available to book for programs in 2022 on September 1, 2021. You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

This eclectic presentation will map out my own journey as an Asian American and immigrant storyteller and delineate how my personal stories reflect and mirror urgent social concerns of our time. It will also include my experiences as a storytelling show producer, who engages in community- based storytelling. The workshop includes the following components:

  • How can storytelling serve as a performative memoir, different from the written memoir? Why is this approach important?
  • How can we use personal stories to critically reflect urgent social issues of our time, such as racism, xenophobia, gender-based violence, etc?
  • What does community-based storytelling mean? How do we use personal storytelling for collective identity formation and community engagement? How is it connected to the concept of performative memoir?
  • How can we strategically use storytelling to address the issue of equity, beyond diversity and inclusion?

This presentation is offered in English and Mandarin.

Program Topics

  • Storytelling
  • Performance
  • Community

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Ada via email, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


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About Road Scholar Ada Cheng

Dr. Ada Cheng is a professor-turned-storyteller, solo performer, and storytelling show producer. She was a tenured professor in sociology at DePaul University from 2001-2016 when she resigned to pursue storytelling and performance full time. She has also been featured at storytelling shows and done her two solo performances all over the country. Ada is the producer and the host of five storytelling shows, including Pour One Out, Am I Man Enough?, Talk Stories: An Asian American/ Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, Speaking Truths Series, and This Is America: Truths through My Body. She creates platforms for people to tell difficult and vulnerable stories as well as for communities who may not have the opportunities otherwise. She is an adjunct faculty at Dominican University and works full time as the Education and Outreach Specialist with Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell.

Learn More and Follow Ada

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About Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

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