Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: Seattle University
SUVSA’s 13th Annual Culture Show Xuân happened on May 12th, 2017 with over 80 performers and volunteers supporting the sold-out show with 320 in the audience. This year we chose the theme of Nhà ở đâu – Where is Home?. This is an important concept to explore because we have all, at one point in our lives, have felt outcasted or felt like we did not belong. As college students, we struggle to find our home in a new foreign environment. Although we have a physical roof that we can call “home”, many of us are still trying to obtain our own individual meaning of what “home” really means for us in life. Our skit this year highlights the struggles of those in the LGBTQ+ community within both American and Vietnamese cultures. In America, LGBTQ+ is widely acknowledged and accepted, as many individuals are fairly open to come out. On the other hand, in Vietnam, it is unfortunately not as accepted compared to America. Even today, many Vietnamese people struggle to come out to their friends and families.
The directors of the show recruited members in the club to step up as leaders to serve as the committee so that they could have experience leadership roles in the club and become more involved in the show. We also refined our fundraising techniques to become more sustainable financially in the future.
All finances went towards covering the costs of the show: food, decorations, costumes, and tech. All committees were working off a minimal budget to be able to raise the greatest amount of money possible. 100% of our proceeds for the show — from ticket sales, donations, and raffles — were donated to this year’s CPP, none of it going back to the club.
Marketing was done through Facebook, Eventbrite, and word of mouth. By inviting family, friends, on-campus organizations, and other universities in the Northwest region, we were able to sell out the show.
How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community? What were the cultural program’s goals and how did it meet them?
Seattle University is a Jesuit university that focuses on educating the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — and empowering leaders for a more just and humane world. The members involved in the show were able to embody these community values. Every year, our event unites the club, and brings in members from other cultural clubs as volunteers and performers. With our theme, we were able to bring awareness to the struggles that Vietnamese Americans face as being part of the LGBTQ+ communities in the Vietnamese society today.
In order to overcome challenges, the officer board and the Xuan committee required clear horizontal communication from other officers and committees as well as top-down communication from the Xuan Directors in order to proceed forward with many of our endeavors. It was important to give many of the committees flexibility while maintaining accountability. Transparency allowed for effective shared leadership as it decreased tension between parties that shared responsibilities.
How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?
One of our biggest challenges this year was timing and scheduling. With rising costs of tuition and living, virtually all members of our club were balancing multiple jobs and other activities on top of school work and VSA. In order to maximize efficiency, the Xuan Directors moved to decrease role ambiguity as in previous years by setting clear expectations and deadlines for each committee that were feasible for the committees and acknowledged their positions as students. In this realization, committee members worked as a single unit, stepping up to support others in their work even if it were not detailed in their specific job descriptions. By working as one family, the committee was able to execute all goals and shared responsibilities in successes and failures despite all the obstacles that we had encountered.
Another challenge that we faced was our budget this year. Every year, our cultural show earns most of our money by working at the University of Washington concession stands. Normally we sign up for a couple of dates that our committee would be most available to work. However, this year there was a new supervisor, and she did not contact us for any potential concession dates. So therefore, we were really tight on our budget. We had to cut many of the budgets of each committee to avoid going over-budget and ultimately not breaking even with the profits that we made.
In order to maximize efficiency, the Xuan directors moved to decrease role ambiguity by setting up clear expectations. In giving clear instructions, we also made sure that our expectations were feasible for the committees so that they felt that we acknowledged their positions as students, and to give them agency in choosing deadlines for themselves. In the situation where deadlines could not be met, the committees were urged to reach out to the officer group and fellow committee members to delegate tasks to lessen their workload within reason.
Furthermore, it was very important to create an environment for members, officers, and committees to provide creative agency. Providing support on checking in with each other created a motivational environment that frees them rather than traps them under a pile of responsibility as they start to prepare for the show.