The Collegian
Saturday, May 27, 2023

Students create Vietnamese Student Association to build community and celebrate Vietnamese culture

<p>Photo courtesy of Vietnamese Student Association.&nbsp;</p>

Photo courtesy of Vietnamese Student Association. 

The Vietnamese Student Association is a new cultural organization at the University of Richmond campus that aims to elevate and promote Vietnamese culture. 

The organization, which officially began in the fall of 2022, aims to bring international Vietnamese students, Vietnamese-American students and other members of the UR community together to celebrate and learn about the culture and traditions of Vietnam, said Dinh. 

Senior Phuong Anh Dinh, the president of the VSA, said her drive for starting this organization came from wanting to feel more at home on the UR campus. 

There were no organizations/clubs on campus that appealed to Dinh, an international student looking to celebrate her culture in a new country, Dinh said. 

“Our main goal is making students feel more included on the campus space, especially international students and even Vietnamese-Americans on campus,” Dinh said. 

Junior Khai La, co-founder and vice president of the VSA, also said that the creation of this organization stemmed from wanting to feel included on campus.

“We basically want to create a community where every Vietnamese feels that they are at home and that they feel connected and they have the chance to celebrate their culture and traditions as well as foster their social development on campus,” La said.

The VSA planned to bridge the gap by hosting cultural events and celebrations during the school year. Their cultural events include decorations and food from the Vietnamese community, said La. 

“People have really engaged with our organization, especially I think people love our food and every event when we have Vietnamese food,” La said. “It usually runs out in five to 10 minutes.” 

The Vietnamese Student Association has hosted several cultural events and celebrations this semester. They have held events such as a Lunar New Year celebration dinner and a trip to a Buddhist temple in the greater Richmond area, Dinh said. 

“We organized food, decorations and games for students from all backgrounds to come and enjoy the culture and learn how we celebrate Lunar New Year back home,” Dinh said. “The turnout was much better than we expected.”

This Lunar New Year celebration drew around 50 students from all backgrounds and all four grades. The attending students had to be grouped into sections to ensure that there was enough food for everyone. 

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The VSA plans to host one last big cultural event before the end of the semester. 

“We plan to coordinate and cooperate with other spots on campus to just do a performance and a food event,” La said. “It also ties to one of our last important traditional cultural days in Vietnam is the day we honor the kings who founded the country.”

Alongside their cultural celebrations, the VSA has already begun to implement a speaker series. This began with Nancy Tran, a finance and investments professor at the Robins School of Business. The series will extend to include writers, researchers and working professionals that can speak on their experiences in the working world, said Dinh. 

The Vietnamese Student Association invites anyone interested in learning about any aspect of Vietnamese culture and traditions to attend one of their meetings, both Dinh and La said. 

Contact writer Melissa Chaparro at melissa.chaparro@richmond.edu

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