University of Florida – Tet Trung Thu

Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: Vietnamese Student Organization at University of Florida

Tet Trung Thu (TTT): Journey from the Fall was held on 11/06/16, bringing out 500+ attendees. Our committees for the show involved 30+ members and officers. The show was intended to bring members back to their roots and to connect with the older generation of Vietnamese Americans as it displayed the struggles of the war and the journey to a better life. It was also meant to inspire the younger generation of Vietnamese Americans to do better in the future and to be more appreciative of what our parents and grandparents do for us.
Tet Cultural Show was held on 02/26/17, bringing out 500+ attendees. Our committees for the show involved 30+ members and officers. Rather than having a random theme, VSO decided to hold a show dedicated to the culture and celebration of Tet itself in order to educate the audience about Tet, beyond the li xi (red envelopes/money).
For both shows, VSO incorporated skits (short and concise) for the first time to visualize stories for the audience. Furthermore, promotional videos were created for the shows and their respective performers in order to raise an awareness for the shows and bring out a greater audience (possibly friends and family members of performers). Also, for the first time ever, traditional dancing and modern dancing were combined as a new twist that related to modern-day Vietnamese people, with Vietnamese pop songs that were upbeat versus the slow traditional songs that only related to the older generation of Vietnamese adults. This was a way for younger Vietnamese Americans to grow an appreciation for Vietnamese culture. This, also, symbolizes and connects with us as Vietnamese Americans as we embody two identities: Vietnamese and American.

How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community?

TTT: Many people know about the Vietnam War, but they never truly understood the struggles that the Vietnamese people had to face. With short skits and videos, along with performances and a guest speaker, VSO reminded others of the strength of the Vietnamese people and of the appreciation that our Vietnamese predecessors deserve. VSO retains loyal audience members from the greater Vietnamese community in Gainesville, FL, along with parents and alumni. As students planning a show, many times our material connect very well with other students, but we often do not think about how the adults (parents/relatives/alumni) connect with our shows. This theme hits home to many of the older generation as the war is something that they faced and survived. Furthermore, many times we as young Vietnamese Americans, and if not descendants of immigrants or refugees, take for granted what we have in our lives and what our parents/grandparents do and have done for us. We know about it, but sometimes, we need that reminder or a way to actually understand what they went through.
Tet: This cultural show served as a comedic, light-hearted show that educated the audience about the traditions of Tet itself. This show, also, incorporated skits and videos to portray a story. The show provided booths that incorporated games and activities relating to Tet, such as the one with Zodiac: Pin the Feather on the Rooster (self explanatory) and the one where people would write notes of well-wishes for the new year (just as we wish our relatives and friends a prosperous new year). This provides a way for members to go back to the roots of Tet, beyond just money and gambling. By exhibiting the generational differences and focusing on eastern values and tradition, we become educated into better understanding, accepting, progressing and defining who we are as 2nd Generation Vietnamese-Americans.
The twist of combing traditional and modern dancing in both shows contributed to the younger generation’s appreciation towards Vietnamese culture.

Posted by Vi So on Thursday, December 22, 2016

 

How did the cultural program meet goals set by the organization?

TTT: Many times our shows connect very well with other students, but we often do not think about how the adults (parents/relatives/alumni) connect with our shows. With short skits and videos, this show hit home to many of the older generation as the war was something that they faced and survived. The adults expressed their appreciation of the show; many cried as they were brought back to the times of their greatest struggle and as they felt touched by VSO’s commemoration to their strength. Many students also witnessed a small fraction of the struggle their parents and grandparents overcame, and thus became more appreciative of what they have.
Tet: The comedic, light-hearted aspect of the Tet show served as a counterbalance of the seriousness of TTT. This show provided an entertaining and interesting way to educate members about tradition, as an alternative of a very bland presentation. In doing so, we incorporated booths, videos, and skits. Rather than just words, we had portrayals of the stories. This draws attention and keeps the audience in focus with the theme.
The twist of combing traditional and modern dancing in both shows contributed to the younger generation’s appreciation towards Vietnamese culture.

 

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?

TTT: One of our performance acts dropped the week of the show. The IVP and the President, along with their roommates, choreographed and perfected a whole new dance piece to replace the act. The show itself was pre-planned at an Officer Conference, held for the first time to reduce officer burnout.
Tet: The show itself was pre-planned at an Officer Conference, held for the first time to reduce officer burnout. However, the day of the event, one of decoration directors showed up late (due to an illness), so committee members and officers all worked together to put together what the director envisioned, thanks to attentiveness and teamwork.