By Thy Lam
Providing a sense of family by helping Vietnamese students connect with other students from their homeland is what the Vietnam Student Association hopes to accomplish. The group was established three years ago as a study group and then began to share experiences about learning, cultures and lifestyles.
After gathering for some months, they felt the need of an official association for Vietnamese students. The purpose of VSA’s establishment is to provide Vietnamese students a safe environment in which they can express themselves and interact with others while feeling comfortable while they are on campus.
“VSA represents all Vietnamese students and helps them learn more about American culture while still preserving their traditional Vietnamese culture,” Thien Nguyen, president of VSA, said.
The club provides members opportunities to meet new people from other clubs to exchange ideas and learn from each other. VSA also provides members the exposure to many resources on and off campus. “By being exposed to others’ ideas, values and morals, students gain a wealth of knowledge that they might otherwise be missing out,” Nguyen said.
Through various activities conducted by the club, VSA is able to raise money to support club activities and Vietnamese students who continue their educational goals. After three years of operation, VSA was disbanded for one year when most of the officers and members finished their education at ELAC.
Some transferred to four-year universities and others earned their degrees or certificates and started their jobs. Moreover, because of the shortage in members, they decided to stop their club activities in 2010.
The current VSA officers saw many advantages to reactivating the club. “During the inactive time, we did a lot of surveys and researches to see how we would reactivate VSA and effectively run it. “Until we gathered all the necessary information and received the great support from former officers, we decided to bring VSA back to operation,” said Tran Le, secretary of VSA.
Regularly activities that VSA’s members do during semester are food sales. They usually hold up four to five food sales per semester for fundraisers VSA will spend the money based on the majority votes from the members who will decide what activity they want to do next.
The money might be spent on trips to universities, parties to celebrate special holidays, scholarships for outstanding members or charity. Among various activities, planned by the club are a Lunar New Year food sale, Christmas prom and charity trip.
There are many Vietnamese students going back to Vietnam to visit their families annually and these VSA members will act as representatives doing charity work in Vietnam. According to Le, at the end of this semester, VSA will hold a Christmas Prom.
The purpose of this party is not only to celebrate Christmas but also to bring such a typical event of American culture closer to Vietnamese students.