University of Virginia

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.

VSA at UVA produces our annual cultural show: Tet Show. In 2020 our culture show was named Tet Show 2020: Mai. The story followed Mai, a brave young girl who fights for the protection of her village and becomes an integral part of Tet traditions that are present to the current day. The show involved Vietnamese culture through the skit that is interwoven with traditional dances, musical acts, Ao Dai fashion show and other modern dances. The purpose of our culture show is to spread awareness, teach Vietnamese values and culture, encourage bonding between members, and most importantly have fun. 

The show was presented on February 29, 2020 with over 100 VSA members participating in the event as choreographers, ski writers, back stage/technical support, actors, and dancers. We drew an audience of over 300 people which included support from fellow MAUVSA schools, the UVA community, family and friends. 

We were provided funding through multiple UVA grants obtained by our treasurer. These grants were used to book our venue, purchase props (audio, skit props etc) and traditional clothing, and fund our food which was provided to audience and VSA members for free. One of our culture chair’s family provided additional audio such as speakers and lighting (spotlights) services. 

Marketing techniques used to encourage audience turnout included tabling and handing out Tet Show flyers, chalking the sidewalks at UVA with venue and date information, Facebook profile cover photo changes, and a PR contest with prizes. Our PR contest consisted of a variety of activities such as making TikToks or memes, changing Facebook cover photos, or hanging up flyers to promote the event with the #UVATetShow2020. Those who participated in the PR contest were then entered for a chance to win prizes. 

After the show concluded, the entirety of VSA at UVA board convened for a long 2 hour meeting to discuss the event, what to keep consistent and what could be improved. 

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

The Vietnamese Student Association at the University of Virginia was founded in 1983 and is proud to be the first Asian student organization on Grounds. It is our mission to foster a growing Asian-American community and embrace a diverse student body, work cooperatively with various Asian Cultural Organizations to build unity within the community, and cultivate strong connections with other organizations both within the University and in the greater global community. 

Our cultural show is named Tet Show because the show is presented around Tet, and we want to emphasize the important of Tet in Vietnamese culture. The story behind our skit was around the Hoa Mai flower, represents the spirit of Tet. The skit was centered around the story of Mai, a brave girl who fought a monster to protect her village and family but ultimately died in battle. Because her bravery touched the Gods, they allowed her visit her family and her village for 9 days every Tet. When her parents died, she transformed into a flowering tree that bloomed with bright yellow flowers every Tet. 

This cultural program served UVA and the Charlottesville community by educating them about Vietnamese culture and value. Our skit highlighted key values in Vietnamese culture such as family and resilience. Cultural organizations at UVA provide a safe space for people of color and other backgrounds while encouraging open dialogue and connection. Because of VSA’s close friendship to UVA’s Chinese Student Organization and Orgnaization of Young Filipino Americans, we had many members of those student organizations come out and support us at our event. VSA at UVA met our cultural programming goals through hard work, extensive planning, and team work. 

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

Throughout the planning process challenges such as differing opinions and scheduling conflicts. We solved the challenge of differing opinions, whether it be differing opinions over skit writing or choreographing, by encouraging our team members and committees to sit down and flush out their individual ideas. We had open communication and had our team recenter our ideas around the values present in our skit. In addition, our executive board had weekly meetings with our culture chairs, choreographers, and skit writers to ensure that everything as going on track. Our culture chairs started working on the event the summer before and had a thorough guideline. 

At times scheduling conflicts were an issue if there were no practice rooms for dances or skit. These were solved by booking extra rooms through UVA in classrooms and multipurpose rooms in VSA’s fitness centers. 

All in all, we are proud of our production and team and put on an amazing cultural show.