“Listen to Me” is a theatrical collaboration between NYU Gallatin students and immigrant students from the International High School at LaGuardia Community College. This piece was developed through group conversations intended to open up the floor and offer a safe space for IHS students to share their personal narratives. Through music, dance and storytelling, the ensemble brings to light the struggles of immigrant youth: personal and societal constructs of racism, beauty, downward mobility, and the imposed double-standard of being an “alien” while being expected to fit and achieve the “American Dream.” In the piece, the fictional Josephine, an international high school student, is interrogated about her immigration status and finds herself defending her right to exist, embarking in a journey toward self-awareness and acceptance of the complex, unique, and beautiful intersectional identities that are at the core of many immigrant women of color.
In the aftermath of the latest presidential election, I found that I was unable to use material from her students in order to protect their identities and defend their status in the country. However, deeply moved by bringing to light the struggles of this highly vulnerable population, I asked my peers at the NYU Gallatin undergraduate program to help me create a piece that would remain true to the feelings of and thoughts that immigrant women of color have while adapting to a new environment. The script was based on a recollection of past memories, present experiences, and future fears from Myka Cue, Grace Chan, Camila Kann, Donna Gary, and myself—all female students of color—that Josephine’s character explores throughout her interrogation.