What happens when international students come together and share their stories? (Issue 6, 2013)

So-where-are-you-fromSo, where do you come from? What happens when a group of international students come together and share their stories? When children from your village all say they want to be doctors and engineers and now you’re here, what happens? When you stack supermarket shelves, study too late, Skype too loud, calculate the cost of it all and want to make your family proud, what happens? And they all continue to ask ‘So, where are you from?’

So, Where Are You From? is a powerful and engaging student theatre performance organised by La Trobe International in partnership with La Trobe Student Union's Theatre and Film, directed by Catherine Simmonds. Students from countries as diverse as Iran, India, Nepal, Tahiti and Germany perform scenes that illustrate the gamble they took in coming to Australia to study. During the show, the audience will be gripped by the stories of hardship and trauma experienced by some of the students. The diversity and different backgrounds of international students is strongly illustrated and the power of their performance helps the audience reflect on how they would cope in the same situation.

Jacqui Faliszewski, a La Trobe International Student Services Coordinator and the project coordinator believes this work has the power to change people’s understanding of culture and the international student experience.

‘This performance is about breaking down barriers. It’s about powerful storytelling and celebrating the richness and diversity of the international student experience,’ says Jacqui.

‘It also helps the audience understand that in selling international education, we are selling an experience, a life changing experience, and one that frequently cannot be reversed. In coming to Australia to study, many of our students cannot go back to their old way of life, even if they wish to.’

Abizer Merchant, La Trobe University’s Acting Executive Director, International says it’s important for international students to be recognised as members of our community.

‘This performance highlights the importance of recognising international students as members of our community that need to be looked after and nurtured, and not just international students of the University seeking a qualification.

‘Although these students come from such diverse backgrounds their hopes, fears and aspirations can easily be recognised and appreciated by anyone who has struggled to achieve something that was important to them,’ says Abizer.

The performance will run between 23 and 28 August 2013 (no show on Monday 26) at the Northcote Town Hall. To buy tickets, call La Trobe Student Theatre and Film on 9479 1198.