Dear Friends & Family,
The start of the holiday season is upon us! We here at UNAVSA hope our members are able to spend quality time with loved ones this Thanksgiving. Our organization is immensely thankful for our members’ limitless efforts in strengthening and progressing the Vietnamese community. With obligations to personal and professional commitments, it’s very easy to bypass reflection to a journey, which I believe is pivotal to growth. Alongside personal reflection this is also a time to consider the history behind Thanksgiving itself.
Every fourth Thursday of November, many in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday of October. Both national holidays are largely celebrated as a day in giving thanks to positive aspects prevalent in one’s life, a tradition started by Pilgrims, before lands were modernized to accommodate industrialization. The “First Thanksgiving” in the United States, is traced back to 1621, when Pilgrims colonizing at Plymouth Rock, and the Wampanoag Native Americans came together for a multiday, communal celebration for a successful harvest after a brutal winter. The Native Americans taught the new settlers skills in growing crops since supplies brought from England were insufficient. The gathering marked a peaceful exchange and collaboration between two culturally different sets of people. Though this was a peaceful event, the holiday in addition to Columbus Day, overshadows much of the struggles facing Native Americans. The conquest for land started mass genocide of the Indigenous people, eventually driving them out of their rightful lands, and forever changing their existence here in the U.S.
We as an organization strive to fight for equality not only amongst ourselves, but for all marginalized groups. Earlier in the year, UNAVSA released our new platform of operations in making Education the main focus pillar. Within the Education pillar, we hope to inform our constituents and bring awareness to issues pertaining and relating to our overall community. Minorities as a whole, are often misjudged and treated poorly due to stereotypes and racism. In recent light of events, there has been an increase in hate crimes against minorities and we are very saddened to witness such behaviors. Now more than ever is the time to band together and fight against these injustices. Positive change against these issues start with support from all sectors of our communities and partners. UNAVSA stands in solidarity with the indigenous community, and many others affected by the hate. Our hope is to observe history and learn from past mistakes to help shape a future filled with tolerance, respect, inclusiveness, and understanding of diversity.
While we give thanks to the many positive aspects to our lives, let’s not forget history and its teachings. In the battle for equality and understanding, there is much work to be done in achieving these ideals, and I have no doubts that our generation is capable of driving that change. The dedicated time and work made by past, and current members demonstrate the undying passion for a better tomorrow. I am most thankful for the love, positive energy, a great team, and last, but certainly not least, YOU! On behalf of UNAVSA, be safe this holiday and many thank yous for continuing our vision.
Thoa Kim Nguyen
2016 – 2018 UNAVSA President