Arizona State University

Most 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 Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) at Arizona State University is a social and cultural club that strives to create meaningful relationships with others on campus. We aim to create an environment where students can learn about the Vietnamese culture and its traditions, regardless of their background. Our goal is to empower students to become campus-wide leaders through community service, leadership opportunities, and fundraising events to help local and national charities. Over the past couple of years, we have been able to promote a safe space for the diaspora of shared Vietnamese experiences. We ensure that it is not only a safe space, but a brave space for our members to not be afraid to feel vulnerable, and encourage them to always make a difference. This year we set an unprecedented record number of members, events, socials locally, as well as participation in collaborations with the community and representing ASU as a third of the attendees in our regional conference, Apex-5. 

For our contribution to our university-wide Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (APIAHM), ASU VSA assisted in the planning of events throughout the month such as movie nights, informational panels, and cultural galas. We helped the APIAHM committee communicate not only with the Asian and Pacific Islander clubs on ASU’s main campus, but the other extending campuses as well. The goal of this month was to raise awareness about API identities and empower API individuals. In a collaborative effort with other cultural organizations on campus, we had planned to hold our Annual Cultural Gala, with the purpose to fundraise and donate to Messengers of Love. In the past, we have donated over $4k and won most money raised for CPP in the Southwest region during UNAVSA Awards and we hoped to exceed that benchmark. 

At ASU VSA, it is more than a club. It’s a place where bonds were formed, memories created, and challenges are overcome together.

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.

At the beginning of the year, ASU VSA participates in Welcome Week where incoming freshmen and existing students are able to connect with a variety of clubs on campus. 

We utilize this opportunity to not only establish new connections and rekindle old ones, but to ensure these relationships last a life-time. We didn’t just try to recruit people into our club, we showed them why it’s important that our club existed. Extending these to our members assisted us in creating a comfortable environment in which they can thrive and foster. 

As for officer training, we organized a weekend bonding trip in Sedona, AZ filled with cooking, late night games, and tam su before the year started. We were able to talk about our goals, timeline and devised a plan to effectively create our vision together and by doing so we held each other accountable. By remembering why we started together, enabled our officers to remain passionate and later on inspire our members to partake in leadership opportunities. Throughout this year, ASU VSA has planned many events such as Family Olympics, Pho King, Winter Wonder Bungaloo, and Annual Culture Gala, in which each experience was planned very meticulously and thoroughly. 

Virtually, we maximized our social media presence via Instagram, Facebook, and Discord. On Instagram, we post informational graphics and story highlights to retain the memories. On Facebook, we post upcoming events on our public page and private group. We utilize Discord as a casual way to connect and we encourage them to message us whenever they have any questions or concerns to ensure a relationship that is deeper than the surface. 

The relationship we built with AAPASC organizations allowed us to have access to resources such as event funding, marketing, and an outlet to object our voices within the community. For example, during the rise of xenophobia in regards to COVID-19 we were able to stand in solidarity with the Asian student population to raise awareness. 

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?

What made ASU VSA special was that we worked together as a family. And as a family we would not always be on the page, but ultimately able to maximize our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. Each of our officers were passionate and dedicated to our cause for leadership and service. By creating a list of goals and a timeline for ourselves, we kept each other accountable as we emphasized transparency and responsibility in all of our brainstorming, planning, and execution of events. We ensured effective communication and genuine connections with our members, we all grew as individuals, leaders, and as a group of friends. 

One goal our VSA had was to create an environment in which ideas could be voiced freely and voices could be freely heard. A specific measure we implemented to do this 

was to introduce a roundtable procedure at the end of each meeting. During our officer meetings, the concept of “roundtable” gave our officers the opportunity to voice their concerns and pass on any encouraging comments in an organized, comfortable, and empowering way. By using a professional platform such as Slack, we catered to different channels to ensure announcements were communicated and to streamline ideas easier. This also helped us manage roles, and hold people accountable for what they needed to do. 

Even though our meetings could be long and arduous, our attention to detail and work ethic creating enriching events for our members was always our motivation. One of the most heartfelt moments about the ASU VSA officer team is that beyond the professionalism and respect that we have for each other, outside the meeting room we always knew we had another friend who each of us could go to for support, guidance, and non-VSA related matters. This was important because the connection we created as a team was felt by our members and along resulted in a level of comfort and belonging they felt with us as an organization.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2019-2020 academic year.

As for our pillars of community service and leadership, we consistently partnered with the greater Vietnamese organizations to host events such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and Tết Festival to provide an immersive cultural experience for our members. By reaching out to local businesses, we were able to host a Pho King Challenge with 30 challenger bowls and 59 regular bowls completely free to our members. The Pho King Challenge helped create a sense of competitiveness spirit and culture that brought more members together. 

Our 3rd Annual Culture Gala: Blossoming in the Desert revolved around the celebration of every individuals’ identity and path intertwining for a year of successes. The metaphor of a lotus flower blooming in adversity represents one finding their self- identity and passion. All proceeds through our service auctions, flower grams, and other donations would’ve been donated to the CPP as done by previous years. Even though the event was cancelled, the experiences we gained along the way was not lost. Each challenge that seemed to be overwhelming became an opportunity for growth. 

Our 2nd Annual Winter Bungaloo: Midwinter (MAD)ness – Making a Difference, a winter retreat, nurtured a safe space and allowed our members to have the opportunity to step up as family leaders to take initiative in leading activities but also learning how to lead our community. This opportunity helped foster leaders in ASU VSA’s community who would later take on intern and officer positions. 

By reaching out to Subtle VSA Traits on Facebook, we were able to reach out to others on an unprecedented scale. The new community that resided in Subtle VSA Traits consists of VSA’s from all over the nation and is more inclusive than ever. Joining this new community allowed us to broaden our horizons and see important matters through different perspectives. Welcomed by hundreds of likes and comments from members of other VSAs, this led to our shirt orders to increase by three times as much.