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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 1: Engagement and Dialogue
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Julia Alverez
Biography
Work
Gish Jen
Biography
Work
Tina Lee
Biography
Work
Khot T. Luu
Biography
Work
James McBride
Biography
Work
Lensey Namioka
Biography
Work
Lensey Namioka
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Authors and Literary Works
Biography

Tina Yun Lee is a writer and actress whose one-woman show, My Mom Across America, premiered with HERE/Lincoln Center Theatre's American Living Room series. The show was featured on BBC radio, which called it "a story full of humor and painful misunderstanding." It was published in the anthology, Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings. Lee's second show, How to Ride Roller Coasters, a comic portrait of her father and how her family copes with the scary hairpin turns of his illness, premiered at the Korea Society.

Lee is a graduate of Yale University and received her M.F.A. in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College.


In My Mom Across America, Lee explores the tensions of the mother/daughter relationship, which in her family are exacerbated by the additional tensions between Koreans who are first- versus second-generation Americans. "The story is full of humor that is gentle and generous but also probing," says Bryan Aubrey of Arts & Culture. "[Her] relationship with her overbearing mother, who wants her to be a lawyer, not a writer, is a constant exercise in bridging the chasms of age and outlook." When Tina is offstage, talking to schoolchildren, she almost echoes her mother's pragmatic thinking: "I love acting and I love writing, but it's so hard to make a living from it that most artists I know do something else for money. So it doesn't feel like a real job, like being a lawyer. I feel like this society is not necessarily built for artists ... it's very hard to be an artist."

In school, Lee developed an attitude toward being Korean that was guaranteed to raise eyebrows at home: "I went to a school that was predominantly Jewish and Italian, so being Korean was kind of weird. And it's only as an adult, after graduating from college, I'm becoming more interested in it." In the play she says, "When I was a kid, my two biggest fears in life were dogs and being Korean." Her fear, it turns out, was about what other Koreans would think because she couldn't speak Korean.


In the end, Lee's comedic orientation calls for easy resolution of her problems: "I can't regret any embarrassing experiences because I use them in my stories, so they're positive anyway, even though I feel completely humiliated in the moment."

Tina Yun Lee's work has also been published in Kalliope magazine and The River City Journal. Lee has appeared in numerous theater and film productions.

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