University of Toronto Mississauga

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?

This year, UTMVSA had three goals: to promote Vietnamese Culture, to expand their network within and outside of VSA, and to rebrand UTMVSA. 

To promote Vietnamese culture, the club prioritized organizing innovative events for the school year, each with different approaches and specific goals. On campus, UTMVSA proposed collaborations with other clubs to promote and spread cultural appreciation and awareness. Events were actively promoted online through social media posts and on-campus departments such as the Centre for Student Engagement and the UTM Student Union. Furthermore, VSA asked for feedback from attendees and executives to reflect and improve on their events. 

To expand networking both within and outside their campus, UTMVSA attended events and participated in various cultural shows hosted by other Vietnamese-based cultural organizations. For instance, UTMVSA participated in the United Vietnamese Student Association of Eastern Canada’s annual Ignite Cultural Show to showcase Vietnam’s intriguing and beautiful culture. UTMVSA also had representatives take part in the Presidential Council, VITA Summit, and even on the UVSAEC executive committee, to help plan major events held throughout the year. UTMVSA also greatly supported the VSA community by attending all UVSAEC events and even some events from their fellow Ontario VSA’s, such as the MVSA and UTVSA Meet & Greet, and UTVSA x VSAR’s Tet event. 

Lastly, UTMVSA rebranded VSA by increasing their presence on- and off-campus. The means of rebranding the club was done through building an online presence by promoting events, cultural activities/opportunities, executives, and fun facts about Vietnamese Culture. Some ideas UTMVSA had to promote on social media are: creating interesting posts about Vietnamese culture, filming fun videos to break down the barrier between the team and general members, and conducting mini biographies of VSA members asking about Vietnamese culture and their experience within VSA. 

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.

For recruitment, UTMVSA passionately represented their culture during the Student Union Clubs Week by wearing traditional clothing, sharing their delicious Vietnamese dishes, and educating those who stopped by the booth. As a result, VSA had twenty- two executive applications, which was the highest number of applications they received in the past year. 

For marketing, UTMVSA introduced their team through individual posts, where many of the executive members shared their stories with the Vietnamese culture, embracing the difficulties they may have overcome to bring them here today. The team also shared promotional material that was educational, explaining holidays such as Tet and its traditions. 

For outreach to campus community, UTMVSA has also reached out and collaborated with various cultural clubs and associations, including ones that were Asian, Filipino, Hong Kongese, and Taiwanese, to share their culture with others who may be unaware of it through food, music, and games. 

In terms resources, UTMVSA held their very first Banh Mi Fundraiser event this year for financial security of future years. Also, UTMVSA successfully acquired several sponsorships, including Chatime, ICE Q, Dazi Lounge & Bar, Krispy Kreme, Su & Bu, and Dental Hygiene Solutions. 

For office training, UTMVSA integrated the new execs into the team first so they feel welcomed, then delegate tasks based on their area of interest to for learning experience in that field. At the end of each term, VSA held transition meetings between incoming and outgoing executive of each position. 

Lastly, UTMVSA displayed their pride for the Vietnamese culture through events, which acts as a representative to educate others and spread the knowledge of their culture. When planning events, VSA worked to actively encourage the different connections that its executives and members had to Vietnamese culture, striving to share their own experiences with the culture while also being open to learning from others. 

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?

UTMVSA is an inclusive group who welcomes everyone to join their family and works hard to become a home away from home for anyone who interacts with them. Although each member is assigned different responsibilities that they are expected to complete based on their position, they are encouraged to work along with other executives to complete the tasks together. UTMVSA places an emphasis on teamwork 

and collaboration. This working mechanism is efficient within the team as it not only produces creative ideas as a collective result from the whole group, but it also motivates executives to share their ideas and contribute to event planning within this open-minded and collaborative work environment. UTMVSA maximizes their strengths by being transparent to one another about any problems that may arise. When an executive cannot complete their tasks due to personal reasons, UTMVSA strives to understand their situation and will accommodate by either splitting the task into smaller, manageable tasks, or find volunteers to work on this task on behalf of the struggling executive. As a result, the struggling executive is relieved of stress from club work and can focus on sorting out their personal problems before being ready to take on a different task assigned to them. There will be times when there is a delay with progress in work, but UTMVSA minimizes this by checking up on each executive and ensuring that they are in the progress of completing their tasks or are given any assistance they may need. Consequently, this sense of teamwork has helped UTMVSA overcome any obstacles that arose throughout the year. Regardless of any disagreements that may occur, UTMVSA strives to remember that they are, first and foremost, a family and recognize that everyone plays an active part in keeping the family together. UTMVSA works hard to overcome any obstacles in their way and tries their best to reach out and check in with one another during difficult times. 

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

Throughout the year, UTMVSA has worked together as a team not only to meet their objectives and expectations, but to greatly exceed them beyond the originally set standards and goals. Although VSA has come a long way from when it was initially founded, VSA believes that there is always room for growth, which is why each year the team takes innovative approaches to its outreach, marketing, cultural awareness and advocacy, as well as event planning and creation, all to help the club grow as time goes on. 

The UTMVSA team constantly reflects on their own journey through cultural diaspora from the unique perspectives of each of its executive members, making an active effort to fulfill the role of a home and safe space for individuals hoping to connect with Vietnamese culture. UTMVSA recognizes that it can be difficult to reconcile feelings of culture shock or diaspora that many international and local students face in regard to their Vietnamese roots while being surrounded by western culture. . Further, UTMVSA understands the diversity in cultural experiences that everyone may have, doing its best to represent different aspects of Vietnamese culture while also upholding its value of sharing wisdom. This goal is apparent in its Getaway to Vietnam and Destination: Asia events, where the team showcased and shared diverse aspects of Vietnamese culture, including food, language, games, and clothing. These encouraged 

sharing of culture while also serving as a space where these aspects of culture can openly and easily be enjoyed by participants. UTMVSA also encouraged the sharing of culture by collaborating with various other clubs on campus to create a space where we could all learn from one another about the unique aspects of culture. Overall, UTMVSA demonstrated growth and development by striving to serve as a space where anyone can connect with the Vietnamese culture, while also encouraging an interactive experience, where executives are also learning from participants. 

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