Saint Louis University

VANG: A Play About Recent Immigrant Farmers

2014 Sam and Marilyn Fox Atlas Week

Saturday, April 5
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Center for Global Citizenship Auditorium

Sponsored By: Center for Service and Community Engagement, Center for Intercultural Studies, Center for Global Citizenship, Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, the International Institute, Department of Women and Gender Studies, Center for International Studies

A Hmong family who fled Communist bullets and wild tigers through the jungle of Laos and across the Mekong River to the refugee camp in Thailand. A Sudanese man who was thrown into prison in Ethiopia for helping the Lost Boys and was left gasping for air through a crack under the door. A Mexican woman who taught herself English by looking up the meaning of the profane words that were hurled at her at her first job in a meat packing plant. A Dutch boy, dressed as a cowboy, who put the flag of the Netherlands through the paper shredder and declared, "I am an American." These are some of the characters brought to life in Vang, a drama about recent immigrant farmers.

The immigrant farmers in this production came from four continents, speaking over six different languages, with multiple experiences of the world. In their own ways, they adjusted to life in America. Some of these immigrants came to the U.S. as refugees from war-torn parts of the world. Others came fleeing poverty in their homelands. Still others came with money, invited to join agri-business ventures. Many of these immigrants landed in the U.S. and took the only jobs they could find-in meatpacking plants and auto repair shops. But all of these immigrants had grown up on farms and wanted to once again assume the livelihood that they had known in the past, the work that had formed the foundation of their cultural roots. The public often thinks of farmers as white males of European ancestry living in isolated rural areas. And the public often thinks of immigrants as those who have slipped into the United States to take advantage of assistance programs. Vang blows both of those stereotypes and opens discussion about how farming is done in the United States and how immigrants have become part of the larger agricultural picture.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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