Most Outstanding VSA of the Year: CSULB VSA
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) of California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is formed on the idea of uniting individuals with a common interest in education, social involvement and cultural development of the Vietnamese community. Although a Vietnamese cultural club, we do not discriminate. We are very open-minded and diverse in membership, because we believe every person is unique and worth getting to know. We make sure everyone feels welcomed and that they know they can belong within our family as well. By hosting weekly meetings as well as various social, educational, cultural, and networking events throughout the school year, VSA separates itself from other cultural student groups in CSULB because of VSA’s commitment to inclusivity and representation of diverse students. VSA opens up its events to students across all colleges, showing an appreciation for differences in background, major, and thought. Our main goal, to serve the comm unity, is one that we are constantly working towards. VSA promotes Vietnamese culturalism and multiculturalism and community service during semester-long planning of philanthropic events, which bring together the campus community, alumni, and corporate/local business sponsors for the common goal of bringing awareness and interest in the education, social involvement, and cultural development of the Vietnamese community.
Address how the VSA was outstanding in the following areas: recruitment, marketing, outreach to campus community, use of resources (financial, etc.), officer training and event planning.
VSA is open to all CSULB students, as well as non-matriculated students and students from community colleges who don’t have a VSA at their own schools. Even without a membership fee, students can make a difference within VSA regardless of their standing or position. With a returning member count of about 100 each semester, along with many new members from each Week of Welcome Fair, we pair all our members in our strong Anh-Chi-Em program, a VSA-exclusive mentorship program that occurs between new and returning members that builds a unique, permanent bond between members who may not have otherwise met this other person normally. This program encourages communication and builds trust and relationships while helping both parties grow both individually and together, an integral objective within our VSA. Along with our Anh-Chi-Em program that helps all our members, mentors and mentees alike, grow individually and personally, we also maintain another mentor ship program that builds professional skills and develops our members into our next great leaders. This happens through our Internship program, where members apply and interview to join our Board as our mentees. They shadow board members, while learning skills on-hand, such as: event-planning, strategy building, problem-solving, communication, accountability, expanding their technical and professional knowledge, and more. Along with our strong mentorship programs, VSA hosts countless events, philanthropic and cultural, such as our Vietnamese Video Music Awards, Vietnamese Culture Night, and Vietnamese Graduation Celebration. VSA also hosts a variety of free workshops, not exclusive to just our members. Workshops this year included: an important Self-Defense Workshop in the fall that welcomed guests from Vovinam Viet Vo Dao Nguyen Ba Hoc, who taught basic self-defense moves from the Vietnamese Martial Arts style, as well as Cadets from CSULB Army ROTC who taught basic self-defense fr om Krav Maga style, and various professional and career workshops in the spring. VSA also hosts many successful fundraisers along with being able to acquire funding through corporate & local business sponsorship. Our sponsors value the opportunity to connect with our members in VSA and the investment in our ever-growing organization.
How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?
Members worked together above and beyond their individual job descriptions in VSA Board and within our Internship program. By continually supporting each other and maintaining a mutual respect and appreciation for one another, regardless of differences of age, race, gender/sexuality, creed, and/or thought, VSA upholds our foundation in which we put camaraderie and growth for our individual members first. Without the inclusion of sustaining mutual support and respect for one another in spite of any differences, we would not have been able to make the strong efforts and outstanding culminations we have made together as an organization. That’s how CSULB VSA accounted for the organization’s extraordinary success. Individual and collective efforts, along with inspired, influential leadership, brings together the organization with assigned accountability but self-generated responsibility.
How did the VSA work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?
The Board of VSA holds weekly meetings to coordinate the weekly general meetings and plan events. Every general meeting and event had a 5-step process: advanced planning and budgeting, risk assessment, preparation, execution, and evaluation. By being committed to this process, not just with our big events but our weekly meetings and smaller post-meeting events, VSA was able to minimize issues and maximize success and sustainability. Our achievement in establishing this 5-step process along with never overlooking small details that enhanced the greater picture, and timely assessments in the middle and end of each semester, greatly added to our overall collective effort to maximize our strengths and overcome our weaknesses.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year, demonstrated growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year. *
Together with the VSA members, supportive alumni, and gracious sponsors, VSA has been able to continue many strong annual programs such as: the Vietnamese Video Music Awards (VMAs) that raises awareness and funds for each year’s UNAVSA’s Collective Philanthropy Project and our Vietnamese Culture Night, a large entirely student-ran production in which serves to promote awareness of the Vietnamese culture. Not only have we continued to grow yearly in membership and event attendance, we have also succeeded in having CSULB’s first-ever Vietnamese Graduation Celebration, for the many Vietnamese graduates of the CSULB campus, regardless of their membership in VSA. For the event, we also received congratulations to all our graduates and to us for our first Vietnamese graduation from the Mayor of Long Beach, Dr. Robert Garcia, in form of certificates of recognition. This year we also established our VSA Alumni Association, and the first year in which we had t he most number of sponsors overall for our Vietnamese Culture Night, in the entire 30 years that it’s been held. Not only that, but CSULB VSA also sent the most number of members, 13, to UVSA Camp 2016, the most we’ve ever had in our history and also the most out of all the other schools that attended, and we are looking to send more to the UVSA Camp this coming year. CSULB VSA even established and strengthened relations with our other cultural collegiate organizations, as well as external schools within our UVSA in Southern California, and is sending a representative, our newly-elected Inter-Collegiate Council Member, Misha Nguyen, from Long Beach to this year’s UNAVSA Conference.