For each academic degree Dr. Kin-Yan Szeto has earned, she studied in a different locale – first in her native Hong Kong, then the United Kingdom, mainland China and the United States.
“Universities are a great place for us to study and work with people from other cultures. I treasure the education experiences that students can have in college because of what we learn about ourselves and others,” said Szeto, who joined the Department of Theatre and Dance in 2005.
An expert in performance studies, Szeto came to Appalachian as part of the Faculty Fellows Program, which works to recruit and retain a more diverse faculty. She is among a growing number of Appalachian faculty members with international backgrounds.
Since coming to Appalachian, Szeto has integrated interdisciplinary perspectives and methodologies in her research and teaching, both in theatre courses and in general education courses, and has produced cross-cultural theatre productions.
Szeto finds the arts to be a cultural bridge to better understanding humanity – “to see our differences and also what we have in common. We all have pain, suffering, joy.”
Jonathan Fitts ’11, a Los Angeles-based playwright, director, dramaturg, composer and novelist, (link to his profile) said Szeto profoundly influenced him. “I firmly believe that the theory she exposed me to and our critical discussion of it helped shape my artist’s conscience,” he said.
As a student in her performance studies class, Fitts said Szeto offered “a perspective alternative
to my own (and, largely, the class’s) in terms of cultural practices, political views and sociological perceptions,” he said. “Regularly we were brought to question what degree our perceptions of certain issues were informed by our American lens.”
“I find students today know a lot about the outside world through the Internet, they’re open and want to learn more and are excited to learn something different,” Szeto said. “All of us in education want students to broaden their horizons and see things differently. I was blessed to have professors who inspired me, and now I want to inspire them.”