Returning to Irvine Talks with New Perspectives


Photo Courtesy of Brian Hawkins

Students from other high schools attended Irvine Talks, laughing with their friends in front of an “Irvine Talks” backdrop during the first part of the evening.

Maya Sabbaghian and Nicholas Hung

Eighteen performers shared moving stories on “Perspective” to students from all Irvine Unified School District high schools, who gathered in the Portola theater on Dec. 15 for “Chapter 2” of Irvine Talks. Performers expressed themselves through dances and passionate speeches, each one opening up to the audience with their personal stories.

The two-part event started outside the theater from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m, where students played games, walked through an art exhibit, took photos, painted a mural, purchased food from food trucks and listened to local bands perform on a small stage. From 7-9 p.m., students went into the theater for the performances.

Student presenters discussed a variety of topics in the latter portion of the evening, including suicide, depression, self-confidence and racism.

“My favorite part was the outside event because I got to help out with it, and it was fun to find people, and watching the people perform inside, too, was also really fun because you got to hear their stories,” freshman Tiffany Park said.

Three Portola students, freshman Michelle Kim, sophomore Rishav Sen and junior Alexandra Beltran, performed at the event. Kim performed a moving speech on her experiences of hurt, the process of healing and later loving.

“Michelle Kim’s performance where she talked about the love, hurt and heal, stood out to me because it was personal to her, and it really showed who she was,” Park said. “It showed how she grew from a traumatic experience.”

Beltran conveyed pride in her Hispanic heritage through a passionate speech and expressed her desire to preserve that pride for the next generation. Sen performed a dance with an audio track in which he explained how dancing has changed the path of his entire life and formed who he is today.

“It was one of the greatest experiences of my high school career to date,” Sen said. “I just thank everyone in the entire crew, the board, the performers, everyone was just amazing. [Irvine Talks] just gives me an opportunity to project myself as a person in ways that I naturally couldn’t because of certain norms. It just taught me to just let go sometimes and just be yourself.”

Irvine Talks held its first event last year with the theme “Be Human,” led by University High alumnus Tejas Dhindsa. University High senior Douglas Sun led this year’s event. With an established footing in its second year, Irvine Talks was able to utilize more resources and grow, according to Irvine Talks vice president Liz Moerman.

“With the foundation of the event set last year, we were able to take the basis and make it our own,” Moerman said. “This year we were able to devote a lot more of our efforts to publicity, creating various video promos and dozens of graphics advertising the event over the course of three months…This year we made it much more cohesive and applicable to the theme, with three photo stages regarding perspectives, three different interactive booths, a mural, and much more.”

Irvine Talks is set to be a district-wide tradition for years to come. For more information, visit