The Campion lobby was filled with flashes of color as students and their families milled about in ceremonial dress, preparing for the Vietnamese Student Association’s (VSA) 14th annual Xuân event, a celebration of family and togetherness within the Vietnamese community. This year’s theme, “One Moon Many Tides: Trở Về Một Tình Yêu,” which translates to “returning home to one love,” honored Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States, and those who were unable to complete the journey.
The theme also focused on the stories that tie the community together and the tides that push their paths together. Event co-chairs Jennifer Nguyen and Peter Hoang, both third- year nursing majors, talked about how they came up with the theme.
“We are living memorials of our lineage, our family, our history, our culture, and this idea of a homeland that doesn’t really exist anymore,” Nguyen said. “So when we chose this theme, ‘One moon many tides, the moon pulls the tides,’ there are different waves in different oceans, similar to us. We are many different stories but we all branch to the same heart.”
Vietnamese Student Association’s cultural show, this year themed One Moon Many Tides, performed a skit looking at the history and sacrifices their ancestors made for their children.
Upon entering the ballroom, pictures of past events were displayed in the entrance hall, along with paper boats symbolizing the journey from Vietnam to America.
The Xuân celebration started with a lion dance performance. Students danced in colorful costumes to showcase a part of Vietnamese culture. The dances continued through the night, starting with traditional dances performed with flowers, hats, and fans. The show also included a skit about a Vietnamese family running a restaurant before fleeing the country as refugees. During the trip to the United States, two of the brothers drowned in a very powerful and moving dance scene.
Xuân also featured spoken word performances delivered by several members of the club during intermission. In addition to the skits in the play, the poems conveyed powerful messages about the Vietnamese identity.
“This year we did a few things for the first time ever, one being spoken word poetry, so that was something we knew we wanted to incorporate, and we wanted to be intentional with how the dances were placed,” Nguyen said.
The poetry was evocative and emotional, a true testament to the emotions that people had about their struggles and triumphs in connecting with their Vietnamese culture.
After dinner was served, the skit continued with the surviving sister and her struggles against racism and in raising her own children. Through the play, the club looked to continue grappling with the themes of acceptance and belonging in the United States. Eventually through many struggles, the characters were able to be comfortable with who they were and appreciate everything their mother had done for them.
During Xuân, VSA also raised money for the charity Children of Vietnam, an organization that hopes to provide programs for children who may not have certain opportunities otherwise. This was an important charity for the club because it meant giving back to the people in the home that their families had left behind.
“We chose the charity because it was what the Greater North American VSA chose to work with. It’s really important to support [those in Vietnam], especially when that involves education, healthcare, and basic necessity,” Nguyen said.
The event focused on the sense of family that the club has built and the pride that they had in their performances. Grace Chinen, a first- year environmental studies major, attended the event and appreciated the community that VSA had established.
“My friend told me that VSA is a tight knit and welcoming community… and the event was a testament to that comment,” Chinen said. “Watching the performances and sitting among friends and family allowed me to see how many different backgrounds were brought together by this celebration of Vietnamese culture…it’s easy to see how much time and thought, and truth went into these stories.”
The night ended with the recognition of members of the club and the pride VSA members feel in sharing their culture. The Xuân event is a call to the struggles that the Vietnamese community has faced both in the journey to America, and also in their reception. The community’s unflinching strength is what makes the annual event such a great celebration.
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