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BIEI celebrates diverse experiences

On the evening of Jan. 30, students gathered in Chum’s Coffee House to attend the third annual “Dream Monologues—Moments of Transition,” a ’DEIS Impact event hosted by Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative.

In past years, Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative (BIEI) was a group of students who worked with the administration to assure all undocumented Brandeis students would have the same experience at Brandeis as any other students. Additionally, they would assist students whose documents were not submitted on time and help ensure they could continue taking courses without any problems.

Since last year, Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative has grown and now has a large presence on campus as an active club. “We are working toward immigration education, immigration awareness, and we are hoping to be a lot more active with breaking down stereotypes of what it means to be an immigrant,” said BIEI Events Coordinator Marian Gardner ’18. Although only a first-year, she is not only an important member on the BIEI E-board, but also played an important role in planning the Dream Monologues.

The Dream Monologues is a collection of student performers who speak, sing and dance about anything related to immigration or “feeling displaced,” as described in the ’DEIS Impact pamphlet. The event served to give students on campus a new perspective on immigration and help them understand other students’ struggles as well as provide a place for students to express their feelings.

“I think a lot of the people that spoke up there, did a poem or singing or dance, I don’t think they have too many opportunities to express that part of their struggle—the struggle with identity, and so I think [the event] provide[d] a platform for that,” said Gardner.

The So Unique Step Team took the stage for the first act of the Dream Monologues. They performed an advanced step routine and handed the floor off to MC Keith Jones ’15, who introduced all of the performers before their acts. “The Dream Monologues event is such an important space for people to share their stories, and So Unique wanted to be a part of that experience,” said Stephanie Weinstein ’17, a member of So Unique. “Stepping is a way for us to express ourselves, and we can only hope we put a good beat down to start off the important opportunity for people to share their experiences,” Weinstein continued.

The following performances ranged from a solo dance by Stephanie Ramos ’15 with a Frank Ocean remix to poetry by first-year Herlyne Das and many others. The poetry was both light and humorous, such as “Nerd Sex” by Alina Pokhrel ’15 and others were serious and thought-provoking. “Why has my life already been planned for me?” Das asked in one of her poems. She continued to speak about what it means to be a black woman. Das concluded her poem with the following statement: “As a black woman, I am human.” In an emotional poem by Chinyere Brown ’17, she said, “I speak English, but do not speak the same language they speak here.”

A total of 12 performers took the stage over the course of the evening. Refreshments were available in the back of the room, and about 70 students were in attendance. “I loved it! It was incredibly inspiring and impassioned. I felt honored that I could be there for such an intense and truthful experience,” said Lexi Ouellette ’18. “Everybody was so good. I was really, really impressed,” said Gardner. “It takes a lot of courage to go up there and speak so openly about your struggles, so I think the honesty part of it was really successful. And it seemed like the audience was very receptive and took something away from it and learned something,” Gardner continued.

Looking forward, Gardner can not wait to plan next year’s Dream Monologues. She hopes to add an even larger variety of performers and reach out to more students about coming to the event. To learn more about Brandeis Immigration Education Initiative, students can attend a meeting. “We are definitely looking for members if anyone is interested in joining,” said Gardner. The group meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the SSSP Lab in Usdan.

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