Most Outstanding VSA of the Year: Vietnamese Student Association at Oregon State University
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
The purpose of the Vietnamese Student Association at Oregon State University is to promote the Vietnamese culture, educate fellow peers, and create a diverse environment. Our organization aspires to encourage Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese students to come together to share experiences, learn from one another and gain a better understanding of what it is like to be Vietnamese/Asian American today. Because the Asian-American community at Oregon State is relatively small, we have a strong connection with other API organizations on campus. These connections have helped our organization excel in celebrating the Vietnamese culture together with members from all backgrounds.
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.
VSA@OSU recruits throughout the school year primarily through social events including Beaver Fair, Winter Retreat, Culture Show, and the Gia Dinh Program. This year, we have over 30 new, active members involved in VSA, 18 of which were first-time Winter retreat attendees. Also new this year is VSA@OSU’s first Media Team, which comprised of 7 members who produced original graphics for general and special events, videos for Member Feature Fridays or recaps, maintained a consistent presence on social media, and captured photos at every event. As mentioned before, OSU’s API community is tight-knit and we always volunteer at and attend other cultural group events. Our main connections are with the Cambodian Student Association, the Asian and Pacific American Student Union, and the Hmong Club to name a few. The only events funded by the university are annual cultural shows which are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Otherwise, we raise our own funds t hrough various fundraisers such as car washes, selling donuts, football concessions, and recently our Che Thai fundraiser! These fundraisers are usually facilitated by officers and we encourage members to participate as well for bonding experiences. Our officers are trained through Summer and Winter retreats while also gaining experience first-hand at meetings and events. Our officers put in countless hours behind the meetings to create a solid foundation for general and cultural meetings, holiday events, CPP fundraisers, and our annual culture shows.
How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?
Culture Show is our biggest event of the year, and we lay down expectations and commitments for each committee before all of the preparation begins. Performers are expected to be cooperative and open-minded, attend practices and meetings, and performance leads along with a moderating officer are in charge of holding their groups accountable. The Gia Dinh Program lays down family leader expectations as well as holds members accountable by agreeing to commit to represent VSA and the purpose of the Gia Dinh Program. Our fresh Media Team gave team members the freedom to take ownership of their own projects while meeting a hard deadline for time sensitive projects.
How did the VSA work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?
VSA@OSU’s biggest strength is our embodiment of a “home away from home”. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of creating a welcoming and friendly environment for our members. VSA@OSU is able to provide a community and network for members of all identities. Additionally, our culture show is the biggest reflection of how tight knit our VSA is. Each year, not only do member and officer get together but we also get help from other API organizations on campus in regards to our culture show. Everyone has a hand in all aspects of our show, whether that be helping with food in the kitchen, playing a part in the skit, decorations, or even performing on stage. This not only ensures our authenticity, but also educates everyone about the Vietnamese culture. Additionally, we challenge our members to create not just a culturally relevant performance but one that also fits with our skit.
Some weaknesses that we possess as a group are the clique-like environment at the beginning of the year, lack of sponsorship from the Corvallis community, and reconnecting with alumni. In order to dissolve the clique-like environment, we implement programs such as the Gia Dinh program, hosting an annual VSA Member Appreciation Day, and spending so much time together in preparation for our culture show! In regards to our lack of sponsorship within our local community, we have little to no Vietnamese resources located in Corvallis and school regulations prevent us from reaching out to other possible outlets. This has actually turn into a strength for VSA@OSU as we pride ourselves in producing a culture show completely from scratch. Finally, the last weakness we possess is not reconnecting with the alumni enough. In order to change this, we’ve just finished an alumni database that our external vice president will maintain. We also plan to utilize the database to reach out to as well as reconnect with our amazing alumni as they are a wonderful resource for ensuring the growth and strength of our VSA.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Winter Retreat – capped in 4 hours
-Brought in activities that impacted officers and attendees from NWVSA and UNAVSA activities such as Privilege and Positive Sparks
-Most attendees ever (and had a long wait list) 46 attendees
-Capped at 36 members so that they can feel comfortable sharing personal stories and connect with one another in small and large settings
-Team building activities and personal reflection activities
Culture Show – sold out in 2 hours
-Went under-budget, had more money to create/fund other events such as Che Thai fundraiser and tennis tournament
-Planned earlier (began practices in middle January after winter retreat), able to have more time to practice for skit and performances
-Utilized backwards timeline to meet deadlines and keep officers and committees accountable
-Had an hour-by-hour rehearsal schedule for our 3 rehearsal days (helped us stay on track and gauge our weaknesses in the skit, performances and transitions to improve upon in the proceeding rehearsals)
NWVSA active participation
-Able to represent at all Culture Shows (except WWU)
-Members attended too, not just officers
-Attended NWVSA events: Turkey Bowl, Summit, Camp
-Summit 2016: 21 VSA@OSU Attendees
-Camp 2016: 9 VSA@OSU Attendees
-Turkey Bowl 2016: 31 VSA@OSU Participants
Recruited and retained many new faces
-Relay For Life – did not actively participate in OSU campus events before
-Increase in API community volunteering and participation (War Asylum video and collaboration meeting)
-Improvement in Gia Dinh Program – Competitive (actively updated points to motivate families), family games/competition during GM, active participation, unique hang outs (Google -Hangouts, Portland during winter break, cooking Vietnamese food, participating in relay for Life)
Implementation of Media Team
-More Graphics, increase in web presence and awareness around social media (Facebook, Instagram)
-Experimented with new outlets such as animation, live streaming, IG stories, Snapchat filter)
-More coverage of GM and events
-All members of media team also ran for 2017-18 Executive Board!!!