Club Spotlight: Vietnamese Student Association

The Vietnamese Student Asso­ciation is finally back! After five years of absence from UW Ta­coma, Long Tran president of the Film Club and now the VSA as well, has brought life back to the club last spring.

“I personally wanted to bring back VSA because I felt incredibly discon­nected as a Vietnamese-American from my Vietnamese heritage and to my par­ents’ experience of Vietnamese culture,” Tran explained. “I wanted to find a way to reconnect to Vietnamese culture through a club on campus, find oppor­tunities to start dialogue and potentially do a video project, interviewing my par­ents and some of the officers’ families.”

The last time we heard from VSA was in 2013, when it operated for only a year until its sudden disappearance.

“It wasn’t even an official Registered Student Organization back then,” Tran said. “We were also the only UW cam­pus without an operating VSA up un­til last May.”

Now that it’s back up and running again, this club has a team of eight appointed officers and over 40 new members and counting. Meetings are held every other Thursday 12:30–1:20 p.m. in TPS 301. The second and most upcoming VSA meeting will be held Oct. 18.

Tran and his team have already planned a bundle of events and ac­tivities for the club, including in and out of state VSA cultural shows and conferences, as well as on-campus events and fundraisers.

There will be a fundraiser at the Ta­coma Mall Chipotle Oct. 19 4–8 p.m. Just mention that you’re there to support VSA and 33 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the club for future events and activities.

VSA is for everyone, not just Viet­namese and Vietnamese-American stu­dents. It’s open to those who are inter­ested and eager to learn more about the culture and history of Vietnam. Member Adrianna Zan described why she chose to join the club.

“I myself am not Vietnamese, but I am Asian-American, and I chose to join because many of my friends are on the officer board and I wanted to support them and what they’re trying to do for the community,” Zan said. “I hope that as a member of VSA, I can help the organization grow and thrive on campus so that other students, whether they identify as Vietnamese-American or not, can find a home in an organization that is meant to cele­brate the beauty of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American culture.”

Many VSA members who are of Viet­namese descent have joined to learn more about their own cultural history and how they struggle to identify with being Vietnamese-American.

Tran has emphasized that he plans to discuss all aspects of culture in order to address this struggle — not just the amaz­ing food Vietnam is well-known for.

“I want to move beyond surface level things like doing food events that a lot of VSA meetings do, [although] there’s nothing wrong with that,” Tran said.

He hopes to educate members on more significant issues as well, such as the Vietnam War.

“The Vietnam war is very important to me because my mother’s parents were killed in [it] and it changed her life,” Tran said. ”It’s a very emotional topic [and] a very hard one to talk about.”

However, that’s not going to stop Tran, as he hopes to create a safe place on campus for other Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans to be able to share their stories regarding important issues similar to his.

Vietnam is a beautiful country with endless natural wonders and great food, but it is also filled with rich and emo­tional history that often goes unnoted in American textbooks. Because of this, VSA hopes to educate the community about the history and experiences of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American peoples. This also gives community members struggling to find a platform a way to voice their stories and concerns.

“As a Vietnamese-American, I con­stantly fight for my place as an American,” Tran said. “As a Vietnamese descent, I just feel like I eat the food and I speak the language OK, but I also feel very dis­connected and spend a lot of time as­similating to American culture.”

The club is committed to increasing both Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Amer­ican culture. They aim to create a place for Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Amer­ican students to come together and teach each other things they aren’t able to learn in the classroom or at home.

“I joined VSA because I want to connect with more Vietnamese peo­ple and help expand my culture on campus,” member Tuyen Tran said. “Growing up in Vietnam, I was only exposed to the Vietnamese side of the war [and] not learning much about the American people, but now that I lived in the U.S., I see how it’s vice-a-versa … I believe it’s important that as Vietnamese-Americans, we should all be educated on both sides and not just one.”

For more information about VSA, visit:
dawgden.tacoma.uw.edu/organization/vsa
or contact Long Tran at:
long.tran@nwvsa.org

 

COURTESY OF LONG TRAN