SUVSA Xuan Festival Bridges Generations

Although April showers bring May flowers, May also brings celebrations around the world of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage month.

Seattle University’s own Vietnamese Student Association (SUVSA) plans to honor this year’s heritage month with the annual Xuan (Spring) Festival. The event is the club’s biggest of the year, and includes an array of activities such as singing, dancing, acting and food.

This year will be SUVSA’s ninth consecutive year holding the Xuan Festival, and codirector Phat Nguyen says that this makes it one of the seven legacy events at Seattle U. Legacy events are long-running distinguished events that have gained prominence at
the university.

“The other ones are big events like the UFC Barrio, the Hawaiian Lu’au and Quadstock, so it’s cool to have our name on that list,” Nguyen said.

Although the event is in its ninth year, students keep it fresh every year.

This year’s theme is “Thế Hệ 9X,” translated to “Bridging Generations.”

“I think in the past years we’ve touched on a lot of old traditions and focused more on that, instead of modern day—what it means to be a Vietnamese American now. So this year we’re trying to touch up on that,” codirector Sarah Penalosa explained.

And what does it mean to be Vietnamese-American now? The theme “Thế Hệ 9X” refers to the 9x generation, which refers to young Vietnamese-Americans born in the 1990s.

“It’s a new term in Vietnam among the young, kind of like ‘YOLO,’” Nguyen said.

“They use that term a lot in Vietnam, especially among the youth, and so with our skit and show, what we want to portray are the differences between the generation gap,”
Penalosa said.

To make the theme come to life, this year’s Xuan Festival will include dancing, singing and skits performed by the students of SUVSA. Performer Amanda Vo describes the skit she’s involved in as an evolution of past Vietnam to modern day Vietnam.

“It starts off back in the 1920s with the traditions and values of the Vietnamese culture, and then transitions into 2014 and how the Vietnamese tradition, culture and families are oriented now,” she explained.

Vo will also present several Vietnamese songs, all revolving around the theme of love. The first, she says, is about a boy taking his love interest back to his homeland.

The second focuses on a couple that fell in love at a young age, grew up together, and only developed that love more strongly over time. The song incorporates the metaphor of a grain being planted and blossoming with time, as a parallel to the couple’s unwavering affection.

The third song, Vo explained, revolves around the idea of two people falling in love in a work setting, subsequently followed by the man offering to take the woman home, where they continue to talk about their lives and allow their love to flourish.

“I‘m a huge fan of the singing portion,” she said, “but just being able to put together this huge event—I think that’s my favorite part. I’m really proud of everyone and how far we’ve come.”
But the Xuan Festival is not just about singing and dancing. All of the proceeds from the event will be donated to the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an organization that provides education and long-term care to children in poverty in Vietnam.

“Every year we pick a charity to fundraise. This one specifically focuses on the education and victims of human trafficking, and I think that really resonated with our committee members,” Penalosa said.

The goal of the event is to bridge the gap not only between generations, but between cultures as well.

“We tried really hard for this year not to be just the Vietnamese community, but to include everyone. Anyone can come and learn something from our culture,” Nguyen said.

The show is on Saturday, May 10, in the Campion Ballroom, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tickets are available for presale for $13 and at the door for $15.