University of Toronto - St. George
Most Outstanding Cultural Program
Questions and Answers
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.
September 6/2019: “Viet Orientation”, ~20 participants. This event’s purpose was to welcome new incoming 1st year students to University as part of Frosh/Orientation Week, benefiting (but not exclusive to) Vietnamese students with tips and advices from upper year Vietnamese students and VSA executive members. Advices given such as academic and social expectations as a University student from a Vietnamese families. Provided opportunities to connect to new Vietnamese students on campus, as well as making connections with upper year students in the same program of studies.
October 11/2019: “Viet101: Traces of Vietnam”, ~20 participants. An informative/educational event to share the diversity of Vietnam’s regions and geography over the S-shaped map of more than just the simplified “Bắc-Trung-Nam”. Each region was presented with its local cuisine, clothing, folklores, famous sceneries, dialects etc. Participants were encouraged to share their experience travelling across the country
January 17/2020: “Tết Đến Rồi, Về Nhà Thôi”, ~120 participants. This is an annual event held to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, this year UTVSA collaborated with Ryerson University VSA, aiming to create a Tet atmosphere for international students that otherwise do not have the opportunity to come back home to celebrate with their families. Kahoot questions revolving around the Vietnamese’s Tet tradition was used as a form of informative acitvity to share the Tet’s festivities and beliefs.
March 30/2020: “Words on Words”, ~35 participants – Online event on UTVSA’s Discord channel. An online event about the Vietnamese Language where we shared with our participants the history of the Vietnamese language – from chữ Nôm to the Latin alphabet chữ Quốc Ngữ, and the evolution of “Teencode” and “Vietnamese Slanguage”. We designed the event to be more of a “sharing platform” where participants from different parts of Vietnam were encourgaed to share their dialects amogst each other.
How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community? What were the cultural program's goals and how did it meet them?
As the only recognized Vietnamese Students’ Association at the University, we aim to share our Vietnamese culture through different forms – apart from just Pho and Banh Mi – we have actively shared Vietnamese events in [the City of] Toronto community on- and off-campus on our main social media pages. These included playwrights by Vietnamese artists (e.g. 49th Day by Athena Trinh), Vietnamese Language community classes (“Mother Tongue” in TeaBase Toronto China Town), Scholarships for Vietnamese Students (Water Lullaby event), Volunteering opportunities within the Vietnamese communities (Golden Age Village for the Elderly).
We have also organized our annual Banh Mi and Ca Phe Sua Da sale in efforts of fundraising, as well as introducing the Vietnamese Cuisine to the University of Toronto’s community, which we have gained positive feedbacks from non-Vietnamese students that it was a good opportunity for them to learn more about VSA on campus, as well as the famous Banh Mi.
UTVSA is also proud to be the first VSA (recognized by UVSA Eastern Canada) to incorporate bilingualism (English-Vietnamese) into all of our Social Media posts and Monthly Email Newsletter as a way to, First, appreciate and preserve the language; Second, to welcome all Vietnamese international students that may find it more comfortable with their mother tongue, who would be more comfortable to approach the VSA knowing we can also provide help in the Vietnamese language.
How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program?
As mentioned above in our informative/education events where we share our knowledge about the Vietnamese regions, or language transformation over the years, we have many times debated to not organize such events as a “Executive memebers teaching participants” about Vietnamese culture through the information we have learned from extensive online researches – since we as students do not have the credibility to “teach” other participants about a whole culture.
We then designed our cultural-based events (“Viet101”, “Words on Words”) to be a “sharing platform” style instead of “teaching”, where we encouraged participants (as well as executive members) to “share” the knowledge that we have learned from the Vietnamese culture with each other, either from life experience (from parents, from years of growing up in the country, etc.), from a University course, or from internal researches.
We also made sure that our organization is welcoming to both Domestic and
International students as we work towards serving the students. We have therefore have extensively reached out to Vietnamese organizations in the community to benefit International students (e.g. organizations for questions about VISA and PR status, etc.), since (Vietnamese) international students may have very different problems that domestic students have, and we aim to be of assistance to both populations.
Viet1010: Traces of Vietnam: https://www.facebook.com/UTVSA/media_set/?set=a.1375774749265176
–– with an intention that dwellers leave traces where they live, and different regions will have different traces. Through this event, UTVSA aimed to introduce participants to more regions of Vietnam, on top of the over-simplified “Bac-Trung-Nam” that most of us know.