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Villanova University Student Documentary Portrays Plight of Teenage Asian Immigrant Seeking a New Life in Philadelphia

Film chronicles Meh Sha’s quest to overcome cultural obstacles, racial tension and violence at South Philadelphia High School


Villanova, Pa., April 28, 2010 – A teenaged Burmese immigrant’s poignant struggle to be accepted in his adopted city of Philadelphia is the subject of Meh Sha, a Villanova University student documentary.

Narrated by Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad, the film chronicles the precarious journey of its namesake, 17-year-old Meh Sha Lin, who, with his family, flees political unrest in his homeland to spend the next 14 years in a Thai refugee camp before emigrating to the City of Brotherly Love. Meh Sha’s quest for a normal life enters a new phase after he is catapulted into the roiling racial tension and violence of South Philadelphia High School. Lacking language skills, lagging six grade levels behind, and working an afterschool job to help keep his family afloat, Meh Sha valiantly strives to overcome the cultural obstacles that continue to plague 21st century immigrants.

Written, directed and produced by Short Stack Productions, a team of Villanova students led by award-winning filmmaker Hezekiah Lewis, the film was created as part of a Social Justice Documentary course offered through Villanova’s Department of Communication. The goal of the course is to utilize filmmaking as a vehicle to explore important issues facing society, prompting greater self-reflection and a more expansive world view.

"This is a story about breaking down the walls that divide us and opening our minds and hearts to others; a story about destroying stereotypes and seeing the uniqueness in everyone," said Lewis, who is also an assistant professor in Villanova’s Communication Department. "I'm so proud of the students’ dedication and passion to take on the project.  Not only are they helping to change Meh Sha's life, but their lives have also changed."

Short Stack Productions plans to enter their documentary at several film festivals and may eventually expand it to a feature length film.