Seattle University

Most Outstanding Philanthropic Program Nomination: Seattle University Vietnamese Student Association

Provide a detailed description of the philanthropic program and the population it served. Details MUST include: date of event, number of participants, program purpose (goals, objectives, etc.), use of resources (finances, community support, etc.), marketing techniques and evaluation processes.

Xuan 2019 was on Saturday, May 11, 2019. We had 100 dancers and volunteers, as well as 320 attendees to the show. This year’s theme centered on the Vietnamese refugee experience, as well as navigating what it means to be Vietnamese-American. This year we wanted to explore how trauma, guilt, and confusion are generational, but so are healing and love. We wanted to emphasize that we are many stories branching from a shared heart, many tides pulled together by one moon. Trở Về Một Tình Yêu translates to returning home to one love, and we wanted to share that love with our community. We allowed a space for students of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to explore how their refugee, immigration, or origin stories have affected their lives and how intergenerational trauma is present in those narratives. For parents, family members, and elders in attendance, we wanted our skit and performances to directly connect to their experiences with the Vietnamese boat experience. We were able to reach out to hundreds of local organizations and businesses to create partnerships and acquire donations and resources to put on our show. Furthermore, we received generous time and monetary donations from our own SU community from having hundreds of student volunteers to having our SUVSA alumni support us financially and emotionally. We used a variety of marketing techniques to spread the word about Xuan 2019 by tabling every weekday in the two weeks leading up to our show to promote ticket sales. We also created flyers to spread around campus as well as electronically through social media. We reached out to on campus and local organizations to connect with our community members and to give them more information about our purpose. We were able to evaluate our program through the number of tickets we sold, the amount of money we donated, and the emotions and feelings captured by audience members in which they were able to connect to our theme, story, and purpose.

What motivated the organization to host the philanthropic program? What efforts were used to motivate and involve the organization’s members?

Our club believes wholeheartedly in the mission of the Children of Vietnam, a humanitarian organization which helps poor and homeless children of the Da Nang area in Vietnam. By hosting Xuan 2019, not only did we want to raise money through ticket sales and donations to donate to the Children of Vietnam, but we also wanted to dive deeper into the Vietnamese boat experience in order to bring to light the stories of Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States by boat. We wanted to remember and treasure the memories of our family heritage and legacy. These are the stories we grew up hearing from our parents and grandparents but have only begun to understand. This was a show created to honor our family, to thank our parents for giving us this life and making sacrifices because ultimately, they want our lives to have more opportunities than what they received. To involve organization members, we asked all members of SUVSA to send in stories, pictures, or quotations about their family’s refugee or immigration experiences. Having members send in stories about their family was a way to involve club members and have their histories be a big part of Xuan, from being placed on the tables to being hung up in the hallways. We also hosted SUVSA’s first ever member retreat this year, where we had team bonding games with members, and deep, meaningful conversations. This member retreat was one of the many avenues SUVSA used to create community and friendships among members of all levels. Additionally, through being on committee and having the opportunity to be a part of dances and be a volunteer, SUVSA had numerous ways for members to get involved and be a part of planning Xuan. We had members of all levels play a role in making Xuan 2019 the beautiful show that was seen by audience members.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program? What was the outcome of the program in terms of goals met, successes, and failures?

One challenge that came up was that we could not have a raffle during Xuan 2019 because the state said that a raffle was now considered gambling. In years past, Xuan has always had a raffle where folks could buy tickets and win a variety of prizes by chance. So not being able to have a raffle was an initial obstacle that we had to figure out how to work around. To overcome this hurdle, SUVSA decided to have a silent auction, where our donated prizes would be placed together in bundles and folks from the audience could place their bids to become the highest bidder and receive the prize. Another way we overcame this was by having a miracle minute right before dinner. This gave folks a minute to donate any amount of money they could to the UNAVSA charity, Children of Vietnam. In terms of our goals met, committee members came out of Xuan 2019 and gained new skills, but also created long lasting friendships and bonds. We also had a goal of selling out, and not only did we sell out, but we also sold out a few days before the show. Many people came away from the show with a new understanding of their Vietnamese heritage and felt many emotions when seeing the refugee story on stage. And for folks who were not Vietnamese, many of them came up to SUVSA after and told us that they learned something new and were grateful to see another part of world history. Another goal we had was to be intentional with dance and performance placements within the skit to ensure that we properly convey the meaning and theme of our show. Audience members from varying generations reached out saying they noticed and appreciated the intentionality behind our decisions.