By Sandi Khine
All our lives, we are often told that we are our own unique individuals with our very own identities and experiences that make us who we are. However, it can be difficult to imagine that other people might know what goes on in our own lives, and we might never be able to even imagine what goes on in theirs. Listening to other people’s stories, though, is a great way to start learning about those around you, as we may find out that we all have a lot more in common than we think.
Undefined, an original identity monologue series event created by Arcadia High School (AHS) junior Filbert Aung, aims to highlight the development of the cultural, religious, gender, and sexual identities in adolescents, particularly in AHS students. He had “always wondered what aspects make up a person, the ways their culture, environment, upbringing shaped into the person that they are,” leading to a “year-long journey of getting this event out there and finding people to talk about their identities.” Filbert’s efforts were a success, and through much hard work, communication, and the guidance of Undefined adviser Mrs. Claudia Grubbs, the event came into fruition.
Held on Friday, Feb. 8, friends, family, and peers all had the wonderful opportunity to listen to five eye-opening speeches from students about their journeys of coming to terms with their own unique identities and loving themselves as who they are. Beyond the sheer courage it took for these individuals to speak about their personal experiences, all of the speeches were original, written by the students themselves—truly a testament to the astounding talent of AHS students.
Spanning a wide variety of topics in their speeches, sophomore Manasvi Chandra, juniors Genevieve Ngo, Yei-in Kim, Hailey Cheng, and senior Lucia Cheng all gave fantastic performances and moved audiences with their heartfelt speeches, resulting in many laughs and many tears.
Manasvi, who has struggled with her Indian-American identity, chose to speak at Undefined “as a big thank you for the special people in [her] life who helped [her] to accept [her] identity.”
For Hailey, she had “always struggled growing up with my Chinese heritage.” She mentions that she “would draw the line between my American identity and my Chinese identity,” but now that she has learned to love her cultural roots, she spoke at Undefined to “spread the message to other people that you don’t need to strip away your cultural heritage, you can be both Chinese and American at the same time.”
Veering away from a topic focused on cultural heritage, Genevieve centered her speech around her “tragic life, that’s not really that uncommon,” and her experiences with love and all its forms. Though she had “never done anything like speech before,” Undefined was an opportunity for her to tell her story.
Ye-In, whose dad inspired her to apply for Undefined, “wanted to tell the world [her] hardships through being a pastor’s kid and also how” thankful she is about it. Her speech, which focused on the intersection of her faith and her personality, shared how she lived her life, and she wanted audience members to relate to her and share their own experiences as well.
Lucia’s speech was an amalgamation of several contradictions—she talks about different aspects of her identity that “have no business being in one person.” She was inspired to apply because her personality is simply undefined, and she wanted to deliver the message that “there isn’t one part of someone’s personality that’s truly the defining factor in a person, it’s a lot of things.” Furthermore, Undefined for Lucia was “a moment to describe who [she] actually [is] and what it means for other people.”
It is difficult to talk to a room full of strangers about who you are, but these people are truly remarkable. What started as a small idea early in 2018 manifested into Undefined, a memorable and fulfilling event of identity and self-love for not only the speakers but also audience members.