Ada Cheng

Ada Cheng

For our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, this scholar is fully booked through 2024. 
However, you may book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information in the “Booking Information” section below.

Storyteller Ada Cheng mixes personal narrative and history to engage audiences in the experiences of Asian Americans and immigrants and uncover truths about the urgent social concerns of our time.

Ada is a dynamic public speaker with decades of experience and is adept at adapting her presentations to different audiences to create an engaging and educational experience for all. She has a deep commitment to public education, the arts, and performing, all of which allow her to present information with creativity and passion.

Presentation 1 of 2
Fully Booked

Yellow Peril Past and Present: Understanding Asian America through Personal and Historical Stories

This presentation/performance offers an exciting mixture of intimate personal storytelling and mini-presentations packed with historical information. Dr. Ada Cheng will weave personal stories to highlight the myth of the model minority, the image of the perpetual foreigner, practices of othering via micro-aggression, and the negative impact of stereotypes and practices on Asian Americans and their mental health during the global pandemic.

Along with intimate storytelling, Ada will present, from a historical perspective, the various laws and regulations that have contributed to the construction of Asian Americans as the “other” in this country historically. The session is highly interactive.

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 45 minutes, with extra time at the end for Q&A, making it approximately one hour. No equipment is necessary.







演示大约需要 45 分钟,最后还有额外的问答时间. 总共大约一小时。不需要任何设备。


Presentation 2 of 2
Fully Booked

Our Words, Our Truths: Storytelling for Collective Identity and Community Engagement

This eclectic presentation will map out my own journey as an Asian American and immigrant storyteller and delineate how my personal stories reflect and mirror the urgent social concerns of our time. It also includes my experiences as a storytelling producer, who engages in community-based storytelling. This workshop aims to provide community builders with the foundational skill set to build intimate communities through storytelling.

The workshop includes the following components:

  • Why is storytelling important to our understanding of personal and collective experiences?
  • How can we use personal stories to critically reflect urgent social issues of our time, such as racism, xenophobia, gender-based violence, etc.?
  • What does community-based storytelling mean? How do we use personal storytelling for collective identity formation and community engagement?
  • How can we strategically use storytelling to address the issue of equity, beyond diversity and inclusion?

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 45 minutes, with extra time at the end for Q&A, making it approximately one hour. No equipment is necessary.











演示大约需要 45 分钟,最后还有额外的问答时间.



An educator-turned artist, storyteller, and creator, Dr. Ada Cheng has utilized storytelling to illustrate structural inequities, raise critical awareness, and build intimate communities. Committed to amplifying and uplifting marginalized voices, she has created numerous storytelling platforms for BIPOC and LGBTQIA community members to tell difficult and vulnerable stories. Since she resigned from her tenured position in sociology at DePaul University in 2016, she has been featured at storytelling shows and performed her two solo performances at theaters, universities, and conferences across the nation.

Dr. Cheng has partnered with numerous community organizations for her storytelling platforms, including Chinese American Museum of Chicago, National Cambodian Heritage Museum, Japanese American Service Committee, i2i: Invisible to Invincible Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, and Center on Halsted. She features community members as tellers and brings these events to community spaces for critical engagement and alliance building. Dr. Cheng has been a Road Scholar since 2019. She currently teaches at both Northwestern University and Dominican University. Her interests encompass academia, storytelling/performance, and advocacy.

Ada Cheng sitting with leather boots

Book this Road Scholar

Follow the steps below to book a presentation.
  1. Contact Ada to schedule a date and time via email at or phone at (773) 806-9674.
  2. Once you and Ada have agreed upon a date and time, complete the online Road Scholars Host Organization application.
Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs