VASA at the University of Utah

Most Outstanding VSA of the Year: VASA at the University of Utah


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What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?

VASA’s mission statement is: “As a group, we would like to promote our Vietnamese culture and traditions to others as well as preserve them for future generation Vietnamese Americans. By doing this, we hope to bridge the gap between the generation of Vietnamese immigrants and Vietnamese Americans. To achieve this, we plan to offer our service within our Vietnamese Community of Utah.”

This year VASA has achieved these goals through their events and meetings. VASA has two big events a year: tet trung thu and tet. This past year, the officers worked together in collaboration with the Vietnamese Community of Utah in order to host a moon festival. There was a large community turn out at this event and VASA had been in charge of putting together a schedule of performances that included an ao dai fashion show, a hat dance, and lion dance with students and other members of the community. VASA’s Tet was an event that was put together solely by VASA. The event included sponsorships from various businesses around the community, various performances from the members of the community as well as a performance from some of the VASA officers and members, and free food. These events are perfect examples of VASA trying to bridge the gap between generations.

Another way VASA met these goals was by trying to share a bit of culture every meeting. The monthly meetings had a cultural theme every month. For example, during November, the theme for the month’s meeting was Vietnamese food and VASA was able to share Vietnamese food information through a game show like activity. By sharing Vietnamese culture, VASA was able to bridge the gap between immigrants and Vietnamese-Americans as well as non-Vietnamese-American members.

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.

Recruitment – This year VASA tried to bring the family program back and was able to keep member retention through the officers reaching out to their family members and keeping meetings and socials consistent and having involved services to try and capture the member’s attention.

Marketing – VASA had to market their events to the community and chose to do this by making flyers and going out into the community to local businesses and advertising their event to business owners and asking to hang the flyers in their stores. VASA would go out to 30 or so locations in the community and speak to managers and owners in hopes of forming a relationship with the businesses as well as advertising.

Outreach to campus community – VASA took part in various campus activities in order to try and reach out to the campus community. Plazafest is a big recruiting event that the campus puts on during the first week of fall and spring semester. VASA took part in both events. VASA also took part in International Night which was put on by the University of Utah International Center. International Night involved various international groups around the University of Utah and had each group take part in a fashion show with their country’s traditional dress and set up a booth with a sample of a food. VASA had four girls take part in the fashion show and set up a booth with banh kep (pandan waffles) samples.

Use of Resources – VASA tried to use their money very sparingly and tried to do various fundraising events throughout the year. Fundraising included a summer car wash, a snow cone and beverage booth at moon festival, banh kep sales at the community tet event, and raffle ticket sales at the tet event.

Officer Training – The VASA 2016-2017 officers were comprised of two senior members and six newer officers. Training consisted of the Southwest Regional officer retreat and just discussion of what expectations were needed.

Event Planning – VASA officers met together weekly before events in order to plan out the events.


How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?

There was just a lot of communication among the officers and members in order to establish responsibility and accountability. The service chair this year was really good about making google forms to try and encourage members to sign up and it was a good way to keep members accountable.

How did the VSA work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?

VASA’s strength lies in the open communication and relationship with the Vietnamese Community of Utah. VASA’s strength also lies in the enthusiasm of it’s members. Because everyone has busy schedules, not everyone is able to work with the meeting and social dates, however, a lot of VASA’s members will make time to take part in VASA’s events. VASA’s weakness is member recruitment and retention and VASA overcame that this year by trying to implement a new system for meetings, socials, and services. VASA was able to overcome its struggle in member retention by being more consistent in meetings and having more interactive and fun activities during the meetings.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year.

VASA has grown this year into a club that has a lot of member involvement, cultural awareness, and community relations. VASA has really improved upon their meeting topics such as during April’s meeting (the last VASA meeting of the 2016-2017 school year), one of the officers led a meeting about Vietnamese history that really touched people about their cultural identity whether they were Vietnamese or not. Many of the members were inspired to also go to SWUVSA’s regional conference, Apex-2. A large amount of the members traveled to Arizona to take part in the conference and many were inspired to go back to Utah and further their experience in VASA. The officers and many of the members were introduced to SWUVSA and the friends that it gave and so VASA as a whole grew more in VASA’s regional relationship. VASA was also able to contribute to CPP for the first time this year through the officers doing an embarrassing video in an attempt to raise money.