University of Central Florida

Outstanding VSA of the Year

Our motto this year was “Gia đình for life.” It translate to “family for life”, however it meant so much more for our organization. It told us that no matter what hardships we have faced, what disagreements and indifference we have had, we always looked after one another. We grew stronger together and loved all the adventures. That was our story this year. 

Questions and Answers

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

Internal Growth & Development : 

This was a goal focused on how our officer board was structured for past years, and how it could be improved upon to keep our officers learning, be more efficient on their tasks, and work together as a team & family. 

Stronger Pillars : 

The purpose was to improve and expand on the pillars we currently have: media and cultural. 

For media, we tried solving the issue of our media directors being overworked by the number of photoshoots, graphics and videos that must be done throughout their term. In the fall, they introduced a media committee so that they could delegate some of their work to members interested. This kept members involved, improved the efficiency in workload, and opened up room for them to introduce new ideas. One of those ideas was having introduction videos at our Tết festival to give our performers more spotlight and appreciation. 

For cultural, we have a cultural dance group known as “VASA Cultural.” They were led by our cultural chairs, Francine Hoang and Jessy Zhang. During their term, they made new additions to VASA Cultural to allow more interactions with our members and a new mindset to their choreography. In the fall, they introduced Cultural Workshops to teach fan dancing choreography to members. In the spring, they introduced a third choreographer, Alex Phan, in order to broaden their scope in mixing traditional and modern dancing.

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.

Recruitment – Every year, we have tabled with other organizations during freshmen orientation in the summer. During this term, our officers focused more on introducing to people our culture, specifically our dance props (i.e. fans and hats). A lot of people were either not Vietnamese or Asian, and didn’t feel familiar with our community. 

What we did was fan around some of the freshmen and parents to get their attention and allow them to try using the fans and hats as well. This approach was a way to promote inclusivity and diversity to our organization. 

Marketing – We always have had our Public Relations and Media Directors work on our posts and event pages for social media. We also promote ourselves at other organizations’ general body meetings through open forums. However, our secretary Diane Hoang aimed to cater to those who were new and weren’t familiar to our platforms. To promote our upcoming events, our secretary would send out mass emails of our newsletters, sharing everything new about our organization. This broadens our outlets to communicate with both new and old members. 

Use of Resources – One area that we focus to stay frugal with is our finances for our big events (i.e. Tết and Tết Trung Thu). We keep close relations with companies who handle our sound and lighting and businesses that cater our food. However, for our Tết festival we had to adjust to new catering policies made by our university. These last minute changes made us re-evaluate our budget so that we can ensure food being catered to our event. This was also a learning experience for future reference, as we will continue to try to utilize our resources to the fullest that are within our university’s policies. 

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?

Transparency was what kept us together. When it comes to big assignments, whether as an officer or as a member, being able to communicate and find solutions and compromises are key. 

Many of our officers know each other past our roles and are close friends with each other. However, we set our guidelines and expectations in order to handle our business and personal matters separately. 

Examples of establishing responsibility and accountability among our members stem from our pillars. 

For VASA Cultural, our officers set a contract for all participants to read and sign. This is for them to understand the expectations of being a part of this pillar, and the level of commitment they must have. 

By having this contract, having a third choreography, having officers come in and provide critique at practices, all of this exemplifies transparency. Our members are in an environment that allows them to improve their work ethic, improve their communication with others, and provide them a better understanding of our culture. 

In our media committee, both our directors and members had a learning curve. For our directors, it was an opportunity for them to grow as leaders and learn how to collaborate with others and delegate work. For committee members, it allows them to hone on their skills and even decide to take up officership in the respective committees because of the opportunities and work that were offered. 

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

Our Tết Trung Thu festival had a lot of mistakes take place behind the scenes. From delay in marketing our event to the public and to local VSA’s, to communication and responsibilities being scattered throughout the day of the festival. The following week we had a 3-4 hour meeting discussing all the improvements that can be made for our Tết festival in the spring. 

For Tết, we planned our marketing and photoshoots in November – December to avoid/prepare for any delay. This helped us advertise and inform our community and local VSA’s to mark their calendars and come to our event. We became more familiar with our method of communication, printed out copies of the ballroom layout to inform everyone of their positions and responsibilities before, during and after our event. We introduced a Vietnamese-American singer from California as our special guest, diverting from past traditions of inviting a famous dancer. 

For internal growth and development, we focused on having more one-on-one meetings between the president, vice president and each individual officer. This allowed better transparency, a better understanding of the expectations, goals and responsibilities of our officers for each semester. We also worked to solidify a probation/removal procedure for officers who fail to meet their expectations/responsibilities. 

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