Moving away from home, leaving friends and family behind and working to fulfill your dreams — these are challenges that might be faced by many college students as they embark on their educational journey. Yet imagine traveling halfway around the world, coming to a new country and making a life at a large university, balancing studying with friends while immersing yourself in a culture very different from your own.
It was these shared challenges that inspired a group of students at Ohio State to create “Table for Three,” a film depicting several aspects of international students’ experiences in the U.S.
“This story is reflective of our lives,” said Henry Lu, producer of “Table for Three.” “(What happens in) the story has happened to most students. We all face these challenges.”
Lu, a second-year in actuarial science and financial mathematics, said “Table for Three” tells the story of a woman from China who comes to the U.S. to pursue a career in music.
“She likes to sing songs, but her parents don’t agree with her following her dreams,” Lu said. “She comes to the U.S. to realize her dreams, but differences develop, like the relationship between her and her parents. And her relationship with her boyfriend in China has also been changed.”
Lu, who is from Hefei, China, expects many students will be able to relate to the struggle between parents’ expectations and students’ dreams.
“(Students) all have dreams and they want to realize their dreams, but maybe their parents don’t allow them to do this,” he said. “But as teenagers, we want to do this. So this movie is for us.”
Lu said he has had the opportunity to realize his dreams at OSU by working on “Table for Three” and serving as president of Echo Studio, the organization producing the film.
“I have a dream to work in movies,” he said. “I think Ohio State gives us more opportunities to do what we want to do.”
Chloe Wang, a first-year in computer information science and a member of Echo Studio, said the film touches upon the shared experiences of all students, not just international scholars.
“Everyone has a chance to dream, (communicate) with family and be in love. I think everyone has these experiences,” she said.
Wang is from Hangzhou, China, and is the director for “Table for Three.”
Hairan Yu, a fourth-year in finance and an actor in the film, said he called upon personal experience to help him portray his character. Yu plays the role of a Chinese student coming to America for education.
“I have experienced similar situations, so I know the feeling when you have to choose between the relationship and your future,” Yu said.
Although he did not join the film with any previous acting experience, Yu said the emotion he brings to the character will help the audience connect with the film.
“I would expect (the audience) to see my expression and my emotion,” Yu said. “I would like to make them feel like they have experienced similar things and that they know how I feel about this character.”
Echo Studio began work on the film in January and plans to present the film in Mandarin with English subtitles in late March, Lu said.
Lu also said, “Table for Three” is set to be uploaded to YouTube and similar video sharing sites in China. The Echo Studio team is looking forward to receiving audience reaction to the film, Lu said.
“We have come up with a new film and most of us don’t have experience with performing,” Yu said. “I think the directors are very talented and the image is what I expected to see … very beautiful pictures that make people feel warm.”
Ultimately, the Echo Studio team wants “Table for Three” to introduce viewers to the lives of international students, Lu said.
“We want the audience to know what international students’ lives are like,” he said. “I hope the audience will like our movie and the audience can get (from the film) the same feelings as us.”
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