Submitted by Duquesne University College Mentor Magdalena DiFazio and her Strong Leader Mentor Patricia Keys
On the evening of Thursday, Feb. 7, as a professional woman and college mentor pair, we had the opportunity to attend the first ever SWSG Evening Out to have dinner together and view City Theatre’s showing of the play Where Did We Sit on The Bus? As soon as we heard about the event, we knew we had to apply. Three of our favorite things are art, good local food, and mentoring. We couldn’t think of a better combination than the SWSG Evening Out! We were so excited when we found out we were selected, and were anticipating our night together for weeks.
We knew going into the evening that we share a lot of common interests, as Pat is a Duquesne University pharmacy professor and Maggie is a Duquesne University Speech-Language Pathology student. We share a passion for helping others through healthcare, and we found out that we have much more in common during our evening out together. Before the show, we had a truly phenomenal meal at Café du Jour, just a couple of blocks away from the beautiful City Theatre. We both love local restaurants and are adventurous eaters. This gorgeous hole-in-the-wall French eatery was perfect for our pre-show dining. As we made our way through a cauliflower appetizer, pork loin and short rib, we discussed everything from our favorite dog breeds, trips to the theater, and our journeys as strong, self-sufficient women. We watched the chefs prepare everything from scratch right in front of us, and the owner even came over to greet us and take this photo of us as we shared a slice of warm pecan pie.
When we arrived at the City Theater, we were greeted warmly by Joel Ambrose, City Theatre’s director of patron services, who welcomed us as guests of Strong Women, Strong Girls. We were struck by the cozy, community-like environment of the theater. It seemed very modern and progressive, but with a rich history. And we love any theatre with a built-in snack bar! We were both surprised that we had never been to City Theater before, considering how close it is to Duquesne University, and how much we both love going to shows. We were ushered into a traditional black-box theater- one of the best ways to watch a show. Black-box shows are so intimate, and because the actors play to all sides of the theater, it creates a very three-dimensional and high energy experience.
And high energy it was! Brian Quijada is the mastermind and only actor behind his hip-hop autobiography, Where Did We Sit on the Bus? He thoroughly amazed and entertained us for the entire show. Quijada’s performance was the epitome of a one-man show. He effortlessly recorded his own acapella backing tracks live, right in front of our eyes. With no set other than a chair and his mixing board, Quijada filled up the entire theatre with his story, his voice, and his music. He told his own personal narrative of growing up Latino in a black-and-white America. His powerful story combined with his multi-faceted talent made for a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable evening. Quijada’s story brings up an important point about the identity questions children of minority racial and ethnic groups face when growing up. It connects perfectly to how we should approach diversity in the mentoring space. It reminded us to consider that our elementary school girls are still forming a cultural identity of their own, and how important it is to provide them with role models from many different backgrounds.
We loved having an evening out together to learn more about each other, visit two beautiful local establishments, and reflect on an America full of strong identities and strong women.