University of Georgia
Outstanding VSA of the Year
Questions and Answers
What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?
The purpose of VSA at UGA has always been to spread awareness of Vietnamese culture; however, we wanted to focus more on building an inclusive organization this year for not only self-identified Vietnamese or Vietnamese-Americans but for anyone interested in learning more about Vietnamese culture. As always, our organization has strong priorities in fostering growth in leadership, passion for VSA involvement, and a sense of community. Our prominent and main goal this year was to build a home away from home that was a place for members to not only be themselves, but to feel accepted, loved, respected, and cared for. Through themed GBMs in which there were activities encompassing building relationships and developing interpersonal skills as well as outing events on the weekends for our members, we were able to keep higher member retention rates throughout the year.
Furthermore, we wanted to build a stronger presence on campus by collaborating with other organizations to learn more about the community outside our own to provide our members with better opportunities to expand their network and feel more welcomed at UGA. To achieve our goals, we cooperated with other multicultural organizations by attending their GBMs as well as participating in the APIDA Night Market and hosting a Field Day event.
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.
VSA at UGA recruitment and campus community outreach this past year was a success due to our Involvement Fair, internal collaborations with other on-campus International Student Life (ISL) organizations, and Anh Chi Em mentor-mentee program. As a result, the number of active members in our VSA this year increased from 100 members to 150+ members, and our goal is to continue to foster a welcoming environment for all of our members to feel safe and be able to create and share their stories.
We had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with the Asian American Student Association (AASA) at UGA along with other ISL organizations to host the first APIDA Night Market. This event brought together the Asian American community at UGA for
the first time and showcased different Asian cultures through food, activities, and performances. Alongside working with AASA, we also held a Field Day event with the Arab Cultural Association, Filipino Student Association, and Korean Undergraduate Student Association where we created a team bonding event that allied members from each organization to get to know each other through various games.
Not only do we encourage our members to participate in VSA activities here on campus, but we also encourage our members to attend other local and regional VSA events including external cultural shows, UVSASE events, and UNAVSA. Encouraging our members to step outside of their comfort zone and connect with other members from other VSAs has always been an initiative of ours because it offers not only networking, but opportunities to grow and the potential to become a better leader for the next generation.
Night in Saigon is a huge event we hold at UGA and is only possible because of the phenomenal teamwork between our executive board members, directors, and general body members. A major part of the show comes from the marketing and event planning that had many members ranging from 100+ participants preparing a show for over 800+ attendees.
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 works together by maintaining an open-minded space where each members’ voice is heard and doing so, composes a strong sense of unity and bond between every member. In regards to communication, we use Facebook, GroupMe, Newsletters, and Basecamp to ensure that everyone is up to date with all information. A large portion of our workload comes from planning Night in Saigon where we have the executive board and board of directors work with committees made up of our general members to plan and execute the culture show that embodies the vision of VSA.
Furthermore, we open up positions for general members to become the next leaders in the organization in which they have certain expectations and responsibilities to be accountable for. For example, the family leaders in our Anh Chi Em program are responsible for guiding their Ems/Littles/Mentees in not only VSA, but UGA and their personal lives as well. We kept them accountable by having check ups with family leaders and getting to know the mentees in their families on an individual basis. With a month of ACE specific events and challenges, we enable mentees and mentors the chance to become close in hopes of sparking independent bonding sessions outside of VSA-sanctioned events. The ACE Program also incorporated a point system to incentivize families to be active in the organization and points were awarded for
attendance at meetings, events, out-of-state events, winning games/competitions, etc. The family with the highest number of points receives an end of year prize. Another opportunity of leadership would be coaching a sport for UVSASE’s Annual Olympics. The coach is responsible for not only coaching the interested parties in how to play the sport but also motivating them and being a friendly face within our organization. The coach as well as the players are both accountable for creating a welcoming environment where everyone should feel welcome to play regardless of their skill level of the sport.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2019-2020 academic year.
Over the years UGAVSA general body has grown immensely, making it harder to create more intimate bonds within the organization. This year, we wanted to grow even larger but not only as an organization but as a family. The 2019-2020 executive board made it a goal to create more friendships with our general body members, rather than being behind the scenes the whole time during events. We made it a priority to interact and get to know the names and faces of all of our members in order to create that foundation of trust and acceptance. For example, this year’s culture show, Night in Saigon, showed the
As an executive board composed of members who had never held an executive board position before, one of the biggest challenges was uncertainty and confidence when it came to decision making. A big challenge was overcoming the need for reassurance and gaining confidence and trust within each other to make decisions. While the executive board relied heavily on past executive board members and the president for help, they overcame this challenge by taking initiative when the president wasn’t available and slowly gained more confidence throughout the year. As they worked through their confidence as leaders, they also maintained a great relationship with the general body which led to the greatest amount of interest for the exec board this year. People were inspired by E-board and wanted to have the opportunity to grow VSA into the best it could be.