Vietnamese Student Association of Memphis – Lunar New Year Celebration

Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: Vietnamese Student Association of Memphis – Lunar New Year Celebration

Posted by Celeste Hurns on Monday, February 27, 2017

On February 27, 2017, The Vietnamese Student Association at the University of Memphis held its second annual Lunar New Year Celebration. This program that we created is one of a kind. By our second year hosting this event, we had more than 200 guests in attendance. Our goal as a multicultural organization is always to educate others through personal experiences.
By showcasing our Vietnamese culture through authentic Vietnamese food catering, authentic rice hat dancing, a traditional lion dancing performance, modern hip hop dance, and an ao dai fashion show, we were able to create an unbelievable event for friends, families, students, and the Memphis community. We were also able to bring back our guest lion dancing performers from our local Vietnamese Catholic Church. This group performed with brand new lion heads and costumes after we made a generous donation with our allocated funds. We also added a boys hip hop dance performance for the first time. This dance allowed for a break from traditions and allowed for some comedic relief. Lastly, we added a fashion show to end our program to showcase all of the different styles of traditional and modern ao dais.
We were allocated $1,200 for food to be provided at our event. We were also given another $1,000 for rentals and purchases and promotions. Our marketing team created a unique flyer. This flyer was used in all of our social media, including our members’ social media. We then printed our flyer in numerous sizes to be posted around our campus and to be handed out during our meetings and tabling events. We found that our celebration was better than the previous year. Not only did we have more people attending, but we also had even better performances. Members spent countless hours perfecting these performances. Not only did our members perform for the audience, they came by hours before to set up for the event and stayed late to clean up after. Our rice hat dance group nearly tripled their usual performance time by choreographing a traditional dance with a modern twist. The event was considered a success.

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

Our program provided the perfect opportunity for our student body to partake in a traditional celebration that is celebrated by numerous cultures around the world. We were the first and are the only registered student organization to have an event based on the Lunar New Year at the University of Memphis. This one of a kind program provided a refreshing event for students to engage in and experience. Not only did we allow interaction with the student body, but as an open campus, we welcomed guests from numerous communities. Additionally, we once again reached out to our local Vietnamese community to have the Sacred Heart Lion Dancers return to our campus. We directly included our community by asking the Lion Dancers to return.


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

Our main goal is to celebrate our wonderfully unique Vietnamese culture. We accomplished just that by celebrating our most celebrated holiday. We were able to celebrate our staple cuisines, like spring rolls, rice, and che. We were able to celebrate our history by having lion dancing represent our colorful history of different cultural influences. We were able to celebrate our people by have traditional performances passed down from generations. Most importantly, we were able to celebrate Vietnam of today. We had traditional performances with modern characteristics. In addition, we had a combination of Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and non-Vietnamese students participate in organizing our event. We wanted to show our guests that we may not all be Vietnamese, but we all have an appreciation for the art, cuisine, culture and history of Vietnam.

Posted by Celeste Hurns on Monday, February 27, 2017


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

We faced many challenges and jumped many hurdles during the planning and execution of our Lunar New Year Celebration. As many college students can understand, it can be difficult to juggle school responsibilities and student organization responsibilities. We were able to implement some incentives and some flexibility to allow our members to come in between their classes to prepare the day of the event. We also allowed our members that helped plan and prepare for our program to eat before the program began. Additionally, we increased involvement and morale by providing t-shirts specific to the event. The day of any event is always hectic. We overcame this issue by planning ahead. We made all of the purchases that we needed for our program the weekend before. It left us ample time to make additional emergency purchases the day of. We already had set people in charge or certain tasks, like picking up the food, decorating, programing, and much more. We were able to pull everything together just in time.