University of Arizona

Most Outstanding VSA of the Year Nomination: University of Arizona

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

The purpose and goals of our VSA was to create a welcoming community for our members, eboards, and anyone who would like to join. We also wanted to spread the Vietnamese culture, along with other cultures, around our school and local community. Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, our executive team has held meetings, fundraisers, and events that promoted the Vietnamese culture along with fostering a welcoming space that nurtures friendships, leadership, and cultural awareness. We started this year off with around 40 members in August and ended with more than 100 in total.

Another goal our VSA had this year was to transition from hosting annual pageants to having our first ever culture show. We had to create new culture chair positions for this event and worked closely with our culture show coordinators from August until February to put together Tucson, Arizona’s first student held Vietnamese Cultural Show. We showcased Vietnamese and other Asian cultures through song, dance, skits, and performances. (The 3rd URL below links to a recap of our culture show). Our team was extremely nervous and scared entering the night of our event, but it proved to be an entertaining and successful show. We received numerous positive feedback about the show from the students at the University of Arizona and as well as the people from the local Tucson community. This show marked the beginning of a new tradition in VSA of hosting an annual culture show every February.

VSA By Night 2019

Check out our VSA By Night 2019 Recap made by our videographer for that night Nathan-Jay Atienza Collantes!

Posted by VSA Arizona on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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.

Our VSA was outstanding in the following areas as a result of:

Recruitment: Our VSA recruit members through multiple events and channels. We recruit at club fairs around campus, at the Vietnamese Temple & Church, and on social media. We have set amount of minimum club fairs and temple & church appearances that we, as VSA, show up to annually. Our media chair and fellow eboards also spark engagement through our VSA’s Facebook, website, Instagram, and their personal social media accounts.

Marketing: We marketed our events, fundraisers, socials, and everything VSA related on our VSA’s social medias, and individual social medias. From August 2018 – May 2019, we gained more than 650+ followers and jumped from around 350 followers to 1,000+ on our VSA’s Instagram.

Outreach to Community: The University of Arizona’s VSA is a part of the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs (APASA), which is a cultural center at our university that provides resources, general meeting space, and a community for Asian Pacific American student clubs such as VSA, the Filipino American Student Association, the Asian American Cultural Association, and many other clubs. VSA’s eboards and members hangout and connect with the APASA’s community center, other cultural centers within the university, and with locals in the Tucson community to provide friendship, cultural awareness, and a sense of community.

Resources: Throughout the 2018-2019 academic school year, we fund-raised over $15,000 through Boba sales, food festivals, and many other sales such as Vietnamese coffee, banh mi’s, etc. We have also used our resources to the best of our abilities because throughout the year, we have not only fund-raised our own money but was successfully able to request money through the APASA center and our university’s student government.

Officer Training: New officers were debriefed and had conversations with the previous year’s officers to understand their role and what they can bring to the team. At the beginning of each semester, we have an officer retreat where we can bond, discuss what our VSA can improve on, and plan out the semester. We have built a line of trust and communication from the beginning within our team that if anyone is confused about their roles, committees, or responsibilities, then they can reach out to me, the president, or anyone on the team and we would be willing to help each other with open arms.

Event Planning: VSA’s planning process is created by our event coordinator, who creates committees which are overseen by myself and fellow executive officers. Committees are assigned different tasks to take on; e.g., material and location management, promotion & marketing, scheduling & event planning, etc. We adjust and take away/add committees to events that may require different attention & tasks than to previous events we’ve held.

How did the VSA work together? How did you maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses? How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?

Our VSA officers work great together because we had established and built a trust within our team at the beginning of the school year. Coming into the year trusting one another and having each other’s back made the process of solving problems and issues smoother, due to everyone’s respect for one another.

We maximized our strengths by cementing the idea of knowing when to step up, and knowing when to step down. What this means is that teammates who are keen on certain topics/assignments at hand will step up to the best of their ability and contribute to the team, but our officers know when to step down and let someone else speak up. This idea not only goes with stepping down when you don’t know as much about the topic, but also stepping down when you feel like you have owned the floor for a while and is willing to let others input their opinions and ideas. We overcame our weaknesses by talking through our problems as a team; there are some situations or problems that may be more difficult to deal with than others, but it has never gotten out of hand. Officers are welcome to bring any issues up to executives and we will assess and try our best to solve the problem, but officers are also encouraged to tackle on their problems with another eboard or member one on one. But if they ever feel uncomfortable doing it by themselves, we will always have their backs.

Our VSA has a year round internship program, and holds weekly general meetings for our members, bi-weekly fundraisers, monthly social event(s), and annual participation in: having a food booth at the Tucson Meet yourself (TMY) folk-like festival, hosting of an annual pho eating competition, putting together a cultural show and performance showcasing Vietnamese and other Asian cultures, and volunteering & participating in the University of Arizona’s Spring Fling carnival.

To manage all these events, tasks, and responsibilities, our officers mainly communicate through one communication platform, Facebook Messenger, but are not limited to other programs and methods of communications such as email, group-me, etc. We do try to limit most of our communication regarding VSA responsibilities and tasks to solely Facebook Messenger. In order to stay up to date with and plan for meetings, events, and fundraisers, our officers meet weekly at our board meetings (excluding holidays, summer, and winter breaks). Time sensitive issues can and have been solved in emergency meetings held via google hangout.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Some specific examples of how we have demonstrated growth and development this year is:

We have an intern program that opens once a semester to anyone who is interested. As part of the program, we try our best to welcome interns to the team and spark interests in becoming new eboards. Through the year, we assigned our interns tasks, duties, and responsibilities gradually, depending on their growth and ability to handle tasks and projects. As a result of the program, 6 out of 8 of total interns ran for at least one eboard position.

One of the biggest things we pushed for this year was cultural engagement and awareness, due to the lack of it in the past. So, I am honored to say that one of the proudest moment that stood out to me this year was when a member told us that around lunar new year, he was afraid to celebrate his culture around his fraternity brothers and friends; but when he came to VSA and saw our eboards and members embracing lunar new year, he was then not embarrassed or afraid to celebrate it as well. He told us that because of how much pride we took in our culture, he realized that he was proud of his as well.

The Asian Pacific American Student Affairs (APASA), mentioned in the second question, holds an annual banquet in the April of every year in order to recognize and award student organizations that are affiliated with them. I am proud to say that our VSA was awarded APASA’s 2018-2019 outstanding student organization award for our commitment to community, spreading cultural tolerance & awareness, and for successfully hosting our first ever culture show.

Additional Information

Our VSA this year has promoted and inspired our members to attend more VSA events, regional & out of region conferences, and UNAVSA for the first time! Last year we had about 10 people from our school attend APEX (SWUVSA’s regional conference). This year, we had more than 20+ attendees at APEX, and a projected higher attendance rate if APEX registration spots did not sell out. This year we saw more members willing to take chances in attending regional and out of region events in order to network, connect, and meet new & amazing people from different VSA’s across the country. I believe that seeing our eboards taking chances on these conferences and coming back with positive results had inspired and sparked interests for some members in attending regional/out of region VSA summits and conferences.

Within the APASA center, social and cultural clubs tend to work internally among themselves to plan and host events, but we had decided that we wanted to work more with other clubs and organizations in the APASA center to create joint socials and fundraisers, in order for members of each clubs to meet and bond with one another. This collaboration also built trusting relationships between the clubs that we had work with. With this relationship already established, working with one another in the future will be more of a fluid and stable process.

Additional Links

https://www.facebook.com/vsa.arizona/

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

The purpose of our VSA is to create an inclusive community that provides growth for leadership and a sense of companionship and promotion of the Vietnamese culture.

Goal 1: Hold a larger presence in our city to promote Vietnamese cultural awareness. Tucson holds an annual festival (TMY) dedicated toward bringing the community together through cultural food and performances. This year VSA held a booth at TMY and sold Vietnamese food and drinks like bánh mì, chả giò, cà phê sữa đá, nước chanh, and many more. We encouraged members to volunteer to promote our culture, serve the community, and foster their teamwork capabilities. This took months of preparation, sponsorship seeking with local Vietnamese businesses, and logistical planning, starting in the summer even before our official term as officers. With unforeseen circumstances such as heavy rain the whole weekend, the VSA officers and volunteers worked early mornings and late nights to ensure our success at TMY. Over the weekend, VSA made over $10,000, was the most successful & largest student-ran booth, and obtained VIP status that guarantees VSA a booth next year at TMY.

Goal 2: Create an all-inclusive environment and provide a sense of community to our members and potential members. Our VSA strongly believes in change starting at higher leadership. Our officers were encouraged to make connections with our members to give them a sense of belonging to VSA. This can be implemented in many ways big and small, for example: during meetings, officers purposely sat in different areas of the room, away from their cliques and get to know the members and meet new people. Also using inclusive language and show people VSA accepts and loves all different types of people. And include other cultural club’s events in our meeting slides & social media.

Goal 3: Foster and promote leadership in their respective communities. VSA offers an internship program to give insight to how the officers execute meetings, socials, fundraisers, and events. This included event preparation & officer meetings. 6 out of 8 interns ran for an officer position for the next school year. VSA also offered 2 scholarships to Southwest UVSA’s Apex Leadership conference and sought school funding to help with costs for those wanting to attend. We even had members that attended out-of-region events share their experiences.

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: Both members & officers recruited through club fairs, the Vietnamese church & temple, and social media. We set a minimum requirement of appearances at the church, temple, and around campus to try and maximize member recruitment.

Marketing: VSA advertised our meetings, socials, fundraisers, events, UVSA/IVSA conferences and everything VSA related on VSA’s newsletter, social media accounts, and individual social medias. From August 2018 – May 2019, VSA increased its Instagram following by 200% to over 1,000 followers. Also doubled our Facebook page likes to 600+ likes.

Outreach: The University of Arizona’s VSA is a part of the Asian Pacific American Student Affairs (APASA), which is a cultural center at our university that provides resources, general meeting space, and a community for Asian Pacific American cultural clubs. VSA officers and members hangout and connected with the APASA’s community center, other cultural centers within the university, the Vietnamese temple & church to provide friendship, cultural awareness, and a sense of community.

Resources: Throughout the year, VSA held bi-weekly fundraisers, such as boba sales, business percentage nights, and participated in TMY and generated over $15,000 through these fundraisers.

Officer Training: New officers were briefed and had conversations with the previous year’s officers to understand their role and what they can bring to the team. At the beginning of each semester, we have an officer retreat where we can bond, discuss what our VSA can improve on, and plan out the semester. We have built a line of trust and communication from the beginning within our team that if anyone is confused about their roles, committees, or responsibilities, they can reach out.

Event Planning: VSA’s planning process is created by our event coordinator, who creates committees which are overseen by all officers. Committees are assigned different tasks to take on. We adjust committees to events that may require different attention & tasks than to previous events we’ve held.

How did the VSA work together? How did you maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses? How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?

Our VSA officers work great together because we had established and built a trust within our team at the beginning of the school year. Coming into the year trusting one another and having each other’s back made the process of solving problems and issues smoother, due to everyone’s respect for one another.

We maximized our strengths by cementing the idea of knowing when to step up, and knowing when to step down. What this means is that teammates who are keen on certain topics/assignments at hand will step up to the best of their ability and contribute to the team, but our officers know when to step down and let someone else speak up. This idea not only goes with stepping down when you don’t know as much about the topic, but also stepping down when you feel like you have owned the floor for a while and is willing to let others input their opinions and ideas. We overcame our weaknesses by talking through our problems as a team; there are some situations or problems that may be more difficult to deal with than others, but it has never gotten out of hand. Officers are welcome to bring any issues up to executives and we will assess and try our best to solve the problem, but officers are also encouraged to tackle on their problems with another eboard or member one on one. But if they ever feel uncomfortable doing it by themselves, we will always have their backs.

Our VSA has a year round internship program, and holds weekly general meetings for our members, bi-weekly fundraisers, monthly social event(s), and annual participation in: having a food booth at the Tucson Meet yourself (TMY) folk-like festival, hosting of an annual pho eating competition, putting together a cultural show and performance showcasing Vietnamese and other Asian cultures, and volunteering & participating in the University of Arizona’s Spring Fling carnival.

To manage all these events, tasks, and responsibilities, our officers mainly communicate through one communication platform, Facebook Messenger. Time sensitive issues can and have been solved in emergency meetings held via google hangout.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Some specific examples of how we have demonstrated growth and development this year is:

Our VSA this year transitioned from hosting annual pageants to having our first ever culture show. We had to create new culture chair positions for this event and work closely with our culture show directors from August-February to put together Tucson’s first student-ran Vietnamese cultural show. We showcased Vietnamese and other Asian cultures through song, dance, skits, and performances. We were even able to draw attendance of VSA’s from other cities and states and have some even perform. We received numerous positive feedback about the show from the region and as well as our local Tucson community. This show marked the beginning of a new tradition in VSA of hosting an annual culture show every February.

One of the biggest things we pushed for this year was cultural engagement and awareness, due to the lack of it in the past. So, I am honored to say that one of the proudest moment that stood out to me this year was when a member told us that around lunar new year, he was afraid to celebrate his culture around his fraternity brothers and friends; but when he came to VSA and saw our eboards and members embracing lunar new year, he was then not embarrassed or afraid to celebrate it as well. He told us that because of how much pride we took in our culture, he realized that he was proud of his as well.

The Asian Pacific American Student Affairs (APASA), mentioned in the second question, holds an annual banquet in the April of every year in order to recognize and award student organizations that are affiliated with them. I am proud to say that our VSA was awarded APASA’s 2018-2019 outstanding student organization award for our commitment to community, spreading cultural tolerance & awareness, and for successfully hosting our first ever culture show.

Additional Information

Our VSA this year has promoted and inspired our members to attend more VSA events, regional & out of region conferences, and UNAVSA for the first time! Last year we had about 10 people from our school attend APEX (SWUVSA’s regional conference). This year, we had more than 20+ attendees at APEX, and a projected higher attendance rate if APEX registration spots did not sell out. This year we saw more members willing to take chances in attending regional and out of region events in order to network, connect, and meet new & amazing people from different VSA’s across the country. I believe that seeing our eboards taking chances on these conferences and coming back with positive results had inspired and sparked interests for some members in attending regional/out of region VSA summits and conferences.

Within the APASA center, social and cultural clubs tend to work internally among themselves to plan and host events, but we had decided that we wanted to work more with other clubs and organizations in the APASA center to create joint socials and fundraisers, in order for members of each clubs to meet and bond with one another. This collaboration also built trusting relationships between the clubs that we had work with. With this relationship already established, working with one another in the future will be more of a fluid and stable process.

Additional Links

https://www.facebook.com/vsa.arizona/

https://www.instagram.com/vsa.arizona/