Performer Kristina Wong was in a funk.
She had been traveling in her one-woman production about depression and suicide for eight years and she needed a change.
“It’s a really serious and heavy subject and I wanted something different,” she said. “I wanted to make a difference in the world but didn’t know how to do that.”
That’s when she decided to pack her bags for a three-week trip to Northern Uganda. She volunteers to work for organization Volunteer Action Network, a nongovernmental organization which provides micro-loans to impoverished rural women. During her trip, she met several Ugandan musicians and created a rap album.
She was so inspired by the trip that she created and wrote “The Wong Street Journal” which she performed at Harvard on March 6.
In “The Wong Street Journal,” Wong discusses her trip, what is was like to be mistaken for a white person, poverty on a global scale and social media.
At one point during the production, she shares what a hashtag war is and describes what armchair justice warriors are.
“I want to be a voice for the marginalized but there came a point in my life where I realized all I was doing was social justice on social media,” Wong said. “That’s great but at some point you actually have to do the work. You can’t just block everyone who doesn’t have the same opinion as you. That’s not real life. You have to live through it. Africa taught me that.”
Wong was most interested to see how audience will react to her one-woman play post election.
“Once Donald Trump was elected, I thought no one would care about this anymore. We would be too worried about saving our country and not others,” she said.
However, she has since changed her opinion.
“The social media stuff is still obviously very relevant,” Wong said. “However, I think America likes to see itself as the savior of the world so I think people will still be interested in this.”
For Wong, reliving her experience in Africa keeps it fresh as a performance.
“These are real people who I still have connections with,” she said. “I always keep that in mind.”
This is especially true about the men she created the rap album with.
“My songs are still played on the radio there,” Wong said. “It was something I got to check off my bucket list that I never expected I would do on that trip.”
This post is also available in: Chinese