Too broke for a plane ticket to Vietnam? The Vietnamese Student Association brings Vietnam to Baruch College students.
“Passage to Vietnam” organized by VSA is an immersive experience to explore the Vietnamese culture with fun games, authentic cuisine, a photo booth, creative decorations and fan-dancing, which took place in the Multipurpose Room on Oct. 11.
There were different stations that represented each aspect of the Vietnamese culture, such as the language, family values and entertainment.
Founded in 2013, VSA seeks to promote cultural awareness, increase ethnic diversity and provide a platform for students to learn and share about the Vietnamese culture and heritage. VSA stands by three values: culture, family and community.
“The Vietnamese population in New York City is small so we’re doing our part in representing it,” said Tam Phuong, VSA president. “Cultures are meant to be shared and I think it’s a blessing that a lot of people are interested in VSA.”
The first station explained the three core values and emphasized the importance of community.
VSA members also volunteer at local events with the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation and other organizations, such as the Trinity Church and AirBnB.
VSA’s very own Gia Dinh and ACE programs allow the members to create a family bond because ACE stands for ANH, CHI, EM, which means older brother, older sister and young
Under the ACE program, each member is paired with an older VSA member who can take one under their wing and act as a mentor or a role model.
“My big Arvis Chen [former USG chair of clubs and organizations] and I are really close. When I am really sad or need to vent, I go to him and he gives me advice,” said VSA historian Jack Wang. “VSA is a family to me and it’s a community that I love. People are great; I made so many friends at VSA and is something that I look forward to everyday.”
Gia Dinh is the Vietnamese word for family and the Gia Dinh program is crucial to VSA since it emphasizes one of the core values and only takes place during the spring semester.
Members who sign up for the Gia Dinh program are put into a family with a family leader who will help them bond and become a close-knit group.
There are fun challenges that each family has to complete to earn points and win prizes and most importantly, to bond with each other.
The language station aimed to educated others on how to order some Vietnamese dishes and taught students how to pronounce certain phrases that cannot be translated in English because they are exclusively in Vietnamese.
On the culture and food board, attendees could learn how to impress the waiter by ordering Goi cuon or collect some Li Xi on Tet for good luck.
“I enjoy it when people learn the language,” Phuong said. “They’d ask me how to pronounce it and I’m really happy when they get it right!”
Next to the language station stood the most popular station, serving Kochin dessert, in which traditional Vietnamese ingredients and classic western dessert are combined.
The study abroad station focused on studying in Vietnam, how to choose a program, and student visas and scholarships that are offered, such as the David L. Boren scholarships and the Freeman Awards for Study in Asia awards, as well as the housing process, academic life in Vietnam and both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh cities and the language being spoken there.
DIY summer rolls station and the Vietnamese coffee station were packed with students as they waited on line for fresh Vietnamese summer rolls and the Vietnamese coffee experience.
Another station was the fan-dancing station, where students learned the choreographed moves taught by VSA members.
“It was wild. It was crazy. I didn’t expect this many people to have come,” Phuong said. “I’d say we had over 250 people coming. It wasn’t like this last year: we had around 150 and the room felt claustrophobic already. To have that much of an increase is crazy to me.”
Freshman Danielle Anastacio said her favorite station was the fan-dancing station and she really enjoyed the immersive and interactive “trip” to Vietnam.
“I had fun; I like the energy and how they are excited about their culture and they want to share it. I especially like the dancing with the fans that look like feathers. The food was really good too,” Anastacio said.
“Each different culture wants to show what they bring to the table and it’s good that we can all learn from each other.”
Editor’s Note: May Khin is a new member of VSA