Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: California State University Long Beach – Vietnamese Culture Night
This year’s Vietnamese Culture Night was held on Friday, April 28, 2017. Our Vietnamese Culture Night (VCN) is an annual stage production hosted by CSULB VSA. More than 100 of our club members and volunteers are involved in creating this show for the opportunity to promote awareness of the Vietnamese culture and heritage, and for the enjoyment of hundreds, including the CSULB community, the UVSA and affiliated schools’ VSA/VSU members, and the Vietnamese American youth population within Southern California. For this show, we had 110 cast and crew members and almost 400 attendees. Held in CSULB’s University Theater every spring for now 30 years and counting, our VCN is comprised of many different aspects, otherwise known as committees. This includes dancing (traditional and modern), costumes & props, stage crew and technical crew, media team, sponsorship team, acting and more. Our VCN features performances by Lion Dance, Traditional Vietnamese Dance(s), Modern Dance, and amateur singers, as well as a dramatic comedy performance highlighting the culture, history, and characteristics or idiosyncrasies of the Vietnamese American community. The goal of our VCN is to allow our members to get in touch with the exuberant Vietnamese cultural contexts. We also design the performances to reflect the traditional values which represent the Vietnamese heritage.
How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community?
The beauty about the community of Long Beach is its diversity. Through our annual production, we were able to present a vital aspect of our culture not just to the our families and friends watching, but also to a portion representative of the entire community of Long Beach and surrounding cities at large. We constantly have a diverse membership that spills into our efforts towards our culture night show and lets anyone who wants to be involved take a part, regardless of age, race, gender/sexuality, and/or beliefs. Our culture night show as well as our diverse membership sustained our club’s goal in continuing to promote Vietnamese culturalism and the importance of multiculturalism in our society today, because of our commitment to inclusivity and representation and appreciation of diversity.
How did the cultural program meet goals set by the organization?
For this year’s production, we wanted to present the idea of “regaining the sense of childhood imagination,” an important theme that extends across different cultures and in our society today, where there has been a significant decrease in cognitive development and better critical thinking skills. In focusing on this aspect and including a motif that applies it to the Vietnamese household, our show was about the struggle of a banal father trying to get him and his daughter home after being sent into a world of Vietnamese fairy tales. Our script brought to life 3 different stories from Vietnamese folklore, and taught valuable lessons from each one, along with our main lesson about the importance of creativity and imagination.
Financially, though we began with an extremely low budget due to unprecedented financial losses inherited from our previous year’s board, we were able to raise funds through receiving funding from our school, fundraising, and sponsorship. VSA was able to host many successful fundraisers, multiple times a month, 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 organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?
Our low budget that we began with in the early stages of our year was due to unprecedented financial losses inherited from our previous year’s board, and became one of the few challenges we had to combat in this journey to our annual culture night show. With facility charges taking more than 60% of our overall budget, we foresaw the planning and executing of the production to have many difficulties if we were not able to come up with proper funds despite the deficit of our predecessors, which estimated to be nearly $2,000 in losses for culture night alone.
However, even with the difficult starting point, we were able to raise funds through our board and committee members’ collective and individual efforts in obtaining grants from our school and UVSA Southern California, as well as receiving funding from a myriad of corporate, local business, and individual sponsors. This year in particular, we achieved a higher success in being able to receive the most number of sponsors for our culture night than we have in our entire 30 years of having the show.
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