Confined within the boundaries of the model minority myth, Asian Americans are commonly perceived as a mass of indistinguishable overachievers who are all “smart” and “good at math.” However, these seemingly positive stereotypes can have a detrimental impact on not only Asian Americans but also race relations in general. In this talk, Alice Li draws from research studies and her personal experiences to challenge the two-dimensional identity outlined by the model minority myth.

Originally from Kentucky, Alice Li is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. She is pursuing a major in neuroscience and a minor in music performance. In 2015, she was honored as a United States Presidential Scholar and as a Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship recipient. Outside of class, she enjoys cooking, playing piano, writing articles for the student newspaper, conducting research in a psychology lab, and participating in cross-cultural organizations. Her diverse interests stem from a desire to both create and exchange ideas with others, and she is passionate about exploring the intersection of academic disciplines and personal stories.




Germany's Next Top Model

In this talk Sara Nuru, a German fashion model and TV moderator with Ethiopian roots, shares her personal story on how her identity evolved from “the first black baby of Erding” to “Germany’s Next Top Model” and finally to “a young female ambassador for an Ethiopian aid organization Menschen für Menschen”. 

She urges that identity might begin with the way you look or what you do for a living. But it is up to each one of us – starting with ourselves – to make sure that our identity does not end at that.  

Sara Nuru is a young influential woman with Ethiopian roots who works as a fashion model & TV moderator and is also the ambassador for the charity organization “Menschen für Menschen”. After winning the 2009 edition of the casting show “Germany’s Next Topmodel”, Sara Nuru not only started a successful career in the entertainment business, she also got on opportunity to engage with “Menschen fuer Menschen”, an aid group which supports people in Ethiopia through various projects.   

In her TED talk, she will speak about challenges and pressure young individuals often face once it comes to making determinant future decisions such as study or next job. But what if you wanted to reinvent yourself after you have already started down your chosen path? Is it acceptable to throw everything away and start again?  

A story about Identity from an German Ethiopian Model


deeyah khan

Deeyah Khan is a great activist and storyteller

Aged 17, Deeyah fled from Norway confused, lost and torn between cultures. Unlike some young Muslims she picked up a camera instead of a gun. She now uses her camera (and her superpower) to shed light on the clash of cultures between Muslim parents who prioritise honour and their children's desire for freedom. She argues that we need to understand what is happening to fight the pull to extremism. 

Deeyah Khan is a critically acclaimed music producer and Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary film director. Her work highlights human rights, women's voices and freedom of expression. Her skill as a multidisciplinary artist led her to film and music as the language for her social activism. Born in Norway to immigrant parents of Pashtun and Punjabi ancestry, the experience of living between different cultures, both the challenges and the beauty, dominates her artistic vision. 

 Her 2012 multi-award winning documentary Banaz: A Love Story chronicles the life and death of Banaz Mahmod. Her second film the Bafta-nominated Jihad involved two years of interviews and filming with Islamic extremists, convicted terrorists and former jihadis.  Deeyah is the founder of social purpose arts and media production company, Fuuse which works to create intercultural dialogue and understanding by confronting the most complex and controversial topics, and sharing alternative views and excluded voices.  

What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care 

Deejay Khan on Extremism in the UK

Ole Reitov interviews Deeyah Khan