University of Toronto Mississauga

Most Outstanding VSA of the Year Nomination: University of Toronto Mississauga

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

This year, UTMVSA had three goals: to promote Vietnamese Culture, to expand their network within and outside of VSA, and to rebrand UTMVSA.

To promote Vietnamese culture, the club prioritized organizing innovative events for the school year, each with different approaches and specific goals. On campus, VSA proposed collaborations with other clubs to promote cultural appreciation and mental health awareness. Events were actively promoted online through social media posts and on-campus departments such as the Centre for Student Engagement (CSE) and the UTM Student Union (UTMSU). Furthermore, VSA asked for feedback from attendees and executives to reflect and improve on their events. Additionally, they participated in UTMSU’s Multicultural Week by tabling to encourage students’ interest in Vietnamese culture; they also proudly represented Vietnam by showcasing traditional clothing, cuisine, and history.

To expand networking both within and outside their campus, VSA attended events and participated in various cultural shows hosted by other Vietnamese-based cultural organizations. For instance, UTMVSA participated in the United Vietnamese Student Association of Ontario’s (UVSA) annual Ignite Cultural Show to showcase Vietnam’s intriguing and beautiful culture. UTMVSA also had representatives take part in the Presidential Council and Intercollegial Council to help with the planning of two major events held in January and May, the Rising Stars for Change Talent Show to raise money for Children of Vietnam and the Annual Leadership Summit, respectively. Both councils were initiatives from UVSA and focused on philanthropy and leadership development. UTMVSA also greatly supported the VSA community by attending and actively participating in all UVSA events and even attending some of the events from their fellow Ontario VSA’s, such as the orientations of their tri-campus schools, University of Toronto St. George and Scarborough.

Lastly, in order to find sponsors, VSA made packages and recorded their outreach process during the summer before the beginning of the academic year. VSA searched for sponsors interested in supporting cultural student clubs by catering for club events, providing a place to host events, and promoting the awareness of the club externally from campus. In return, VSA assisted their sponsors by advertising their new products or services and upcoming events on social media. In addition, the club rebranded VSA by increasing their presence on- and off-campus. UTMVSA successfully acquired several sponsorships, including Chatime, Heaven Sent, and Dental Hygiene Solutions. The means of rebranding the club was done through building an online presence. For instance, Facebook and Instagram platforms were used regularly to promote events, cultural activities/opportunities, executives, and present fun facts about Vietnamese Culture. Some ideas UTMVSA had to promote their presence on social media included, but were not limited to, creating engaging and interesting posts about Vietnamese culture, and conducting mini biographies of VSA members to ask for their thoughts on Vietnamese culture and experience with VSA.

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.

This year, UTMVSA has been an outstanding VSA due to their commitment to their community and dedication to being a group where everyone is welcome. UTMVSA has established a strong presence and connections on its own campus, has shown support for other VSAs and has been involved in the UVSA Ontario community, reaching out to the local community, both Vietnamese and otherwise. UTMVSA is being nominated for VSA of the Year for their exceptionality in recruitment, marketing, outreach, event planning, and spirit. They have reached out to those of varying backgrounds to offer them a home and have regularly interacted with them by staying active and creating a variety of promotional materials. UTMVSA has emphasized outreach, connecting to their community on- and off-campus. They have maintained relationships with local business sponsors, clubs, VSAs, and UVSA to establish a stronger presence. Furthermore, UTMVSA is proficient in event planning, thoroughly planning and executing engaging and diverse events at least once per month. They have also focused on improving events, gathering feedback and being open to new event proposals. UTMVSA has great spirit, engaging with other VSAs and having representatives involved on various committees and on-campus initiatives. UTMVSA is a VSA that is always striving to welcome others into their family and work towards improving their group for the betterment of their community; their commitment to their role as a VSA this year makes them a strong candidate for this award.

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?

UTMVSA is an inclusive group who welcomes everyone to join their family and works hard to become a home away from home for anyone who interacts with them. Although each member is assigned different responsibilities that they are expected to complete based on their position, they are encouraged to work along with other executives to complete the tasks together. UTMVSA places an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. This working mechanism is efficient within the team as it not only produces creative ideas as a collective result from the whole group, but it also motivates executives to share their ideas and contribute to event planning within this open-minded and collaborative work environment. UTMVSA maximizes their strengths by being transparent to one another about any problems that may arise. When an executive cannot complete their tasks due to personal reasons, UTMVSA strives to understand their situation and will accommodate by either splitting the task into smaller, manageable tasks, or find volunteers to work on this task on behalf of the struggling executive. As a result, the struggling executive is relieved of stress from club work and can focus on sorting out their personal problems before being ready to take on a different task assigned to them. There will be times when there is a delay with progress in work, but UTMVSA minimizes this by checking up on each executive and ensuring that they are in the progress of completing their tasks or are given any assistance they may need. Consequently, this sense of teamwork has helped UTMVSA overcome any obstacles that arose throughout the year.

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

This year, UTMVSA has focused on establishing a strong presence, by continually hosting events on campus as well as being open to trying out new events. UTMVSA has repeatedly demonstrated their flexibility, being open to adapting and attempting new events based on demand from attendees or collaborators.

UTMVSA has exhibited a diverse variety of events, extending to the first Meet-and-Greet, a coffee house de-stressor collaboration event, a pho and karaoke night collaboration, a tri-campus Tet event with the St.George and Scarborough UofT campuses, a “Subtle Asian Night” collaboration food and karaoke event, and a mental health de-stressor collaboration event. UTMVSA has demonstrated their strong spirit by always being a welcoming and friendly VSA, who is encouraging and engaging when interacting with attendees, both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese, other VSAs, and UVSA. The team has also shown support to its fellow VSAs as well as UVSA by having its executives attend various events throughout the school year. UTMVSA has also shown its positive spirit and commitment to the VSA community by having representatives involved in various UVSA initiatives. UTMVSA has been involved with the Presidential Council, Intercollegiate Council, Charity Auction (as auctionees and staff), IGNITE, and Summit (as staff, family leaders, and workshop leaders). At IGNITE, UTMVSA was recognized for their creative efforts and performing arts capabilities, winning second place. On its own campus, UTMVSA has also shown its spirit by participating in Welcome Week and Multicultural Week. For Multicultural Week, UTMVSA was awarded the most enthusiastic, engaging, and collaborative club on campus during the duration of Multicultural Week. In addition to this, during the year-end award ceremony for all UTMSU recognized clubs, UTMVSA was also awarded the “Most Improved Club”.