Most Outstanding VSA of the Year: McMaster Vietnamese Students’ Association
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
The goal of MVSA is to unite students with a passion to immerse in Vietnamese culture within the McMaster and Hamilton community. Originally founded on the basis of uniting Vietnamese students and raising awareness about their cultural heritage, MVSA has since grown to not only include Vietnamese students, but any student with a passion for Vietnamese culture. Often, students that have a Vietnamese background lose touch of their heritage while living in North America. The purpose of MVSA is to immerse these students in events that teach them about the culture so that it is not lost in future generations. Additionally, MVSA strives to support the community through its philanthropy and every year, MVSA chooses a charity to donate the proceeds it makes at events. MVSA this year has not only exceeded these goals but has established itself as a prominent club within the McMaster community having been nominated for Cultural Club of the Year for its diverse and inclusive events. This year in particular, MVSA has revamped its events by offering unique collaborative events with other clubs on campus and is one of the cultural clubs that has raised the most money for charity. This year has been a great year for MVSA as MVSA not only adhered to its goal of uniting students with a passion for Vietnamese culture, but it also positively contributed to the community by raising money for charity at each of its events.
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.
MVSA welcomes everyone interested in Vietnamese culture and has a core executive team consisting of reps that have undergone an interview stage; however, students can join via the Performance Team or as a general member. By running this way, MVSA ensures that properly trained individuals deliver events targeting a diverse range of students. Recruitment this year was each for MVSA because they drew from past experiences. By having a great first event, which was our general meeting, it motivated new members to join the association. MVSA was keen this year on marketing and the executive members get training from old members about promoting events. This consists of changing one’s profile picture or cover photo on Facebook and having a caption to explain the details of the upcoming event. As well, MVSA has an active Gmail email which is its primary contact and takes advantage of Alumni around community and its philanthropy work to provide outreach to the c ampus community. MVSA has been wise with its resources and event planning as the core team meets biweekly to discuss their events and anything they can work on to improve MVSA’s team dynamic, presence on campus, and all in all, its main goal of uniting students interested in learning about the Vietnamese culture.
How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?
MVSA worked hard to ensure that each member was responsible and accountable for their decisions. The MVSA team consists of the core executive members, representatives, and general members. The core executive members and representatives are involved with the planning process of MVSA events. To ensure that these members are responsible, MVSA goes through a screen process where successful members pass the interview process. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to join MVSA at their events or join the cultural team. Moreover, to ensure that everybody is clear of their responsibilities, MVSA has member training where an old executive member gives the current executive member advice about how they ran their position in the past including things to look out for. To avoid conflict, the Vice-Presidents and the Presidents work hard to constantly get feedback from the general members and representatives. As well, there are constant evaluations to ensure that e ach member knows of their responsibilities.
How did the VSA work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?
MVSA has faced many problems in the past pertaining to member recruitment and promotions. As the year progresses, it is natural for cultural clubs to lose members and recruit new ones as students become busy with their schoolwork. Additionally, it was hard to find a social media platform to promote MVSA events. Due to the increasing prevalence of social media, MVSA has revamped their promotions by using Instagram and Facebook, the two most popular platforms at McMaster. This appealed to the students and has increased their attendance at events and presence within the McMaster Students Union. Additionally, MVSA consistently has progress meetings and the Presidents and Vice-Presidents constantly ask the other executive members and general members for feedback on the events and the way that they were ran. By identifying its weaknesses, MVSA was able to address them and work towards creating a better and unified MVSA.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year.
MVSA has demonstrated considerable growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year. First of all, this was the year where MVSA decided to branch out and make many external connections with other clubs on campus. Due to these connections, MVSA was able to create unique events such as the Dance Workshops with VIE Dance Division and holding McMaster’s largest collaborative formal with the Filipino and Chinese Associations. This event attracted more than 300 students and MVSA sold the most tickets, demonstrating its growth over the academic year. Moreover, MVSA also reached out to the community by contacting the alumni of MVSA. By collaborating with alumni, MVSA was able to host its first ever Professional Alumni Mixer that attracted many alumni that are working in the professional field. Through this event, MVSA was able to help students network with the alumni. Outside of Hamilton, MVSA was able to form close connections with the VSAs across Eas tern Canada and collaborated with the Vietnamese Association of Toronto and other VSAs at the annual Hoi Cho Tet event. Here, MVSA was able to promote its club, perform their cultural song and dance, and connect with the community. Lastly, MVSA has grown internally as the co-presidents this year implemented a new system where junior representatives would be trained by current executive members. For a club to develop successfully, the club must be sustainable. Introducing a system where senior members train junior members has helped MVSA establish its presence as a competent, well-respected, and highly praised club on the McMaster University campus.