Cross-cultural understanding blooms at the Rosebud Coffee house on East Colorado Boulevard, nurtured by a man who survived the Vietnam War and came to California as a young refugee.

Currently a resident teaching artist with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Alex Luu and his family left Vietnam on April 30, 1975. At the age of 8, he was fluent in Cantonese, Vietnamese and French, but “I didn’t know a lick of English,” as he said recently.

More than two decades ago, Luu joined performance artist Dan Kwong’s workshop for Asian American men. From there, he began performing one-man shows, and since 1997 he’s been offering autobiographical writing and storytelling workshops called “My Own Story” to help young people tell about their lives.

The best My Own Story participants first presented their tales at the Santa Monica performance space in 2005. Most of the other performances have been up north. Luu has also been busy performing his own show, “Three Lives.”

Joing Luu at the Rosebud are three South El Monte residents — Anthony Morales, Jenna Flores and Yesenia Velasquez — who talk about the Latino experience.

Morales’ piece is called “Music Is Life” in which he pays tribute to his dad, “who left Mexico and really had big dreams to do stuff here, but because of work didn’t achieve his dreams,”  Luu explained.

Chloe Wang and Tina Tran participated in the My Own Story workshop at Temple City High School.  Wang immigrated three years ago, and while her English was rough, Luu feels her story is powerful enough to transcend any linguistic problems.

Luu explained that even if you’ve heard these stories before, the pieces performed at the Rosebud are not exactly the same because life has changed. “The pieces have been revised, given more depth” and some have added things the person didn’t get a chance to do the first time, says Luu.   

“My Own Story Greatest Hits” opened at Rosebud Coffee Tuesday and continues tonight, Feb. 22, Feb. 28 and March 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rosebud Coffee, 2302 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Admission is $10 for students and seniors. General admission is $15. For more information, call (626) 792-1341 or visit