Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: University of Marland, College Park – VietVenture
UMCP VSA’s first VietVenture hosted more than 200 attendees on April 21, 2017. Its purpose was to educate the community about Vietnamese culture in an engaging and interactive way. More than 40 individuals from UMCP and surrounding VSA’s took part in the planning and execution of the event.
We made great use of financial and personal resources to make this event happen. We obtained $3,000 from the Student Entertainment Events (SEE) organization to bring in two Vietnamese Youtubers, Olivia Thai and Mickeey Nguyen, to showcase their talents and enlighten our community on their experiences as Asian Americans in the entertainment industry. We also obtained enough funds from Student Government Association to cover room and technology costs. The only funds that came directly from UMCP VSA were for food, in which we obtained at a discount through a friend of an executive board member. All other decorations, including the photo booth, virtual reality simulation, cultural items, and the like, were donated or borrowed from the community.
In terms of marketing, we advertised our event mainly through Facebook. The event itself has over 900 individuals invited and our page has more than 1,200 likes. We also encouraged executive board members and general members to change their personal Facebook banners to attract their networks. Olivia and Mickeey both advertised on their social media platforms, and we put up electronic advertisements in our student union. Because we obtained funding from SEE, they also advertised on their social media as well. We also received formal support from our Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy office, which also advertised on their email listservs.
In terms of evaluation, because this was UMCP VSA’s first VietVenture, the focus of the evaluation was to collect data on interest and financial costs to determine whether it should be continued. Our marketing reach was so great, that a class even offered attendance as extra credit. In addition, our organization was able to gain more publicity and educate the community at relatively minimal out-of-pocket costs. As a result, VietVenture is set to continue this fall.
How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community?
VietVenture appealed to a broad and diverse audience both on and off of campus. Along with encouraging our own members to attend, we personally invited families and VSAs in the surrounding region to join us. It also contributed to Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month programming and served as a supplement to the Asian American Studies Program at UMCP.
How did the cultural program meet goals set by the organization?
Our goal was to promote Vietnamese culture by having attendees go on an “adventure” through interactive booths, or “destinations”, that featured Vietnamese clothing, weddings, food, and games. To encourage attendees to learn about each topic, they were given a “passport” at the beginning of their journey that needed to be fill out with fun facts from each booth. Once completely filled, they would trade in their passport for a sample of authentic Vietnamese food. We emphasized the fact that it was a *sample* of food, because we didn’t want to overshadow the overall goal of our event, which was to educate, with feeding attendees a full meal. In a little less than mid-way through the event, we had all the attendees sit down to prepare for the main performances. Atomic Goofball, Olivia Thai, and Mickeey Nguyen each performed their talents, and then participated in a Q&A where they answered questions about their Asian American experiences in entertainment as well as their experiences as a young adult. Then, they held a meet and greet and personally engaged with all of the attendees.
How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?
With any new, first-time event, there were challenges. The small team of executive board members dedicated to this event started to plan nearly 1 year before the event date itself. The initial vision for this event was actually an Asian-American concert to promote Asian-American culture in general, something that is lacking on our campus. However, overtime, the executive board soon realized that the financial costs and logistical hurdles of hosting such a large scale concert made it nearly impossible for an on-campus club to execute, especially for the first time. Therefore, the vision of the event was transformed into a more focused event that showcased Vietnamese culture, a more fitting vision for the organization. With that change, the entertainment costs lowered and event logistics were made more feasible, making the event much easier to execute.