Re-Crossing Borders with University Theater

By: Bibiana Díaz   Ana Cecilia Lara  

Shedding light on the history of refugees is a challenging task. It entails motivating the population to "know the other" and perhaps more importantly "know about the other." This includes understanding their history, motives, fears and the problems that confront them daily. These problems extend beyond geographical borders to impact identity as well. Thus, the immigrant is left to remap both physical and mental space to establish themselves in a new territory. Consequently, many immigrant experiences go untold or ignored even at the college level. Recognizing the importance of these experiences and the stories that encompass them, we created a testimonial based theatre to showcase emerging discourse that challenges anti-immigrant paradigms. In this way we hope to make the story about the other known. The collaboration between California State University, San Bernardino and University of North Caroline at Pembroke, allows first generation college students to perform productions based on their own experiences and those of their relatives. It also allows them to travel and perform before a national and international audience. As Kevin Brown states “Theatre helps us understand people from cultures other than our own. We can learn a lot about people from cultures all around the world by studying their performance traditions. In doing so, we can learn to be less ethnocentric, and more accepting of others.” With this project students empower themselves through re-crossing borders with their narratives. They learn to embrace their diversity and to be advocates for immigrants and refugees as “agents of change."

Theater Immigrants Borders
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Bibiana Díaz

Assistant Professor, The Department of World Languages & Literatures, California State University, San Bernardino, United States
California, United States

Bibiana Diaz completed her Ph.D. with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Irvine, with the specialization in Latin American literature and theater, and an emphasis in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She has taught language, literature, theater, and culture courses at UC Irvine, the Department of World Languages and Literatures at California State University, San Bernardino. At this institution, she is also the director of the student theater group Acto Latino: Teatro Universitario en Espanol. Her research on Colombian fiction and theater focuses on issues of gender, homosexuality, social discrimination, human rights violations and violence, addressing, specifically, how particular works have been instrumental in re-defining the margins, and questioning the hegemonic notion of national identity. She also has written on Latin American queer literature and Theater. She has presented papers for the American Comparative Literature Association, the Latin American Studies Association, the LAGO Conference, the UCI Mexican Conference, the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies (PCCLAS), and at the international conferences in Cadiz, Spain, and Rio de Janerio, Brazil. in addition to her research and teaching, she is also a member of the editorial board for the journal Gestos, Revistas de teoria y practica de teatro hispanico. 

Ana Cecilia Lara

Associate Professor, Dept. of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, United States

Ana Cecilia Lara completed her Doctoral degree in Modern Languages in Spanish and Italian with Middlebury College. Her areas of specialization are in the Spanish Language, Literature, Culture Studies and Pedagogy. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Currently she is the Director of the Foreign Languages Program, and the Coordinator of the Spanish Teacher Licensure (K-12.) She has taught courses like Methods of Teaching Spanish, Advance Grammar, Civilization and Culture, Literature, Phonetics, and Language. She is the advisor and director of the new Spanish Theater group Acto Latino at UNC-Pembroke. She has also been invited to teach Spanish immersion language courses during summers at Middlebury College since 2015. Her areas of research are Central American Literature, Culture Studies, Salvadoran Theater, and Applied Linguistics.