University of Georgia

Most Outstanding Cultural Program Nomination: University of Georgia

Describe the cultural program. Details MUST include: Date of event, number of participants, program purpose (i.e. goals and objectives), member involvement, use of resources (financial, etc.), marketing techniques and evaluations process.

Night in Saigon 15 was held on Saturday, January 12th, 2019, at UGA. They were approximately 100 volunteers and performers, and 950 total attendees (including sponsors and esteemed guests). Through skits, dances, songs, and more, NIS is a show dedicated to promoting the Vietnamese culture and heritage to the audience. Our goals are not only to educate those who are interested in learning more of the culture, but to raise awareness of the ever-changing Vietnamese-American identity among the audience members. Our objectives are to preserve and promote Vietnamese culture, identify and address issues impacting the Vietnamese community, provide opportunities for local businesses to promote their products and services to the Vietnamese-American community of Athens, raise funds to support our UNAVSA’s CPP, bring together Vietnamese youth, and provide them with opportunities for leadership development and community service.

Our marketing techniques involved a large social media presence with Facebook profile picture frames, a consistently updated Facebook event page, and promotional videos. We also posted flyers around campus and local restaurants as well as had our members paint an advertisement on the street.

Evaluations and decisions were made on a voting system amongst directors and executive board members.

Community-wise, NIS unites the entire Southeast once a year and is the ONLY culture show in the Southeast to garner attendance from all VSAs in our region. This year, we even had members of neighboring regions attend. The show also has a large number of parents in attendance as well as adults involved in both of the Vietnamese American Communities in Georgia.

How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community? What were the cultural program’s goals and how did it meet them?

Our traditional dance, lion dance, and fashion show demonstrated the beauty of the Vietnamese culture. Every year, Night in Saigon features a different theme that shapes the direction of our show and the message we wish to convey to the audience. This year’s theme is “Seize the Moment,” or “Nắm Lấy Khoảnh Khắc.” As Vietnamese-Americans, we have grown up with expectations and limits that have impacted our life choices whether they be in career, in school, in our personal lives with family, friends, and romantic partners, etc. We live with the freedom that our parents never had, but struggle with the pressure to be who our parents want us to be. Through our 15th show, we hope audience members are inspired to make those decisions that will help them to become the people they aspire to be and live the lives they wish to live, free of judgement and full of choice.

Financially, we exceeded both fundraising and sponsorship goals we set for ourselves. We surpassed our sponsorship goal of $8500 ending up with over $11000. In addition, with our sold out show, we collected nearly $7000 in ticket sales and donated $6000 to Children of Vietnam and $1000 towards UVSASE. A revenue of $19000 and a profit of $12000 allowed us to fulfill our philanthropic goal and pay expenses for the rest of the events we had planned out for the 2018-2019 school year.

Our overall goal was to increase cultural awareness by storytelling through a written skit, traditional dances with fans and other objects from the motherland and also to teach event planning and character development. For our members, NIS allows them to learn more about Vietnamese culture through the language, food, dances, and seeing the scope of the Vietnamese-American community and how much this show brings people together. Since our members also contribute to the planning process, they develop and improve many leadership skills, such as creativity, communication, responsibility, and dedication. They learn the importance of commitment to a project and cooperation with others that will translate to their professional development. After each show, we release a content survey that allows everyone involved from the student volunteers to the audience to the sponsors to submit their feedback about the show. Collecting these comments allow us to continue to grow as an organization, as leaders, and as creators, and we always aim to be bigger and better than the year before. NIS is not just a show, but it is a beacon for the community to grow closer together and let people see the capability of the young Vietnamese-American and Asian-American community.

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

As an organization, we have overcome obstacles both internally and externally. This was only the second year we offered directorship positions for NIS and we understandably encountered some issues with communication, coordination, and transparency with our large group of directors. These difficulties hindered our progress in the beginning but encouraged our executive board members and directors to realize their divergent working and communication styles, overcome these differences, and grow as leaders. A big issue we had was with one of our directors who, due to miscommunication, began to resent us as an exec board. Never confronting issues and addressing the problem directly built up tension and made her feel like she was alone. When we finally addressed the issues we had been having with this director throughout the year, we realized that it was on us to take responsibility for not saying something sooner and allowed her to air out her feelings. This challenge reminded us that although a successful culture show is the goal, it is important to reassure those working with you that they have your support and that you maintain a clear chain of communication when it comes to working with others.

Externally, we faced ourselves with issues the ticketing office. As we received numbers of how many tickets were being sold, we anticipated when we were going to sell out. However, when the number of tickets reached over 700, we quickly realized that somewhere along the way our advisor had miswrote the maximum number of tickets that could be sold and people were still able to buy tickets. Because our ticket office does not offer refunds, we had to work with our venue to provide more chairs along the walls and emphasize to our members to sit on the floor to allow guests to have a seat. With a short amount of time to fix the issue, we had to compromise and accept the extra people while also trying as best as possible to not create a fire hazard. This challenge taught us to double check when it comes to logistics and showed us that we are able to think quick on our feet.