November 6, 2017
Tou Ger Bennett Xiong will use humor and storytelling to teach about cultural diversity, racial stereotypes and the Hmong experience in Minnesota during a presentation at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Saint John’s Art Center Auditorium.
His presentation, “Teaching Culture Through Laughter,” is free and open to the public.
Bennett Xiong will combine his animated personality, storytelling, humor and spoken word into an interactive and engaging performance that educates the audience about cultural diversity and racial stereotypes common when dealing with people from other cultures around the world. He will present his story as both humorous and challenging as he navigates his life between two very different cultures.
Born in Laos, Bennett Xiong and his family had to flee the Southeast Asian country because of the communist takeover in 1975 (his father had served in the CIA before the takeover). The family spent four years in a refugee camp in Thailand before moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, and living in public housing projects.
Bennett Xiong was valedictorian of his class at Humboldt High School in 1992, and he went on to receive a political science degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.
He created a Hmong Cultural Club while he was a ninth-grader at Humboldt. As president of the organization, he motivated people to come together and embrace their culture.
In 1996, Bennett Xiong created Project Respectism, an educational service project that uses comedy, storytelling and rap music to bridge generations, according to MinnPost. Since then, the project has evolved into a program that provides cultural education and entertainment for people.
Bennett Xiong has taken this program to over 1,600 audiences in 44 states over the past 20 years.
He has been featured on national television, radio and newspapers, and received the National Alumni Hall of Fame Award from the United Neighborhood Centers of America, and the Pride of St. Paul’s Spurgeon Award for his accomplishments.
This event is presented by the Global Awareness Lecture Series, Intercultural and International Student Services, the Asian Studies Department and the Hmong Americans Involving Students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.