By Sarah Myers, Staff Writer

Many know Vietnam as a country halfway across the world, but they may not know that there is an active Vietnamese presence here on the University of Missouri—St. Louis campus.

The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) has planned an event to show off what Vietnamese culture is like at the Vietnamese Culture Night on Friday, April 22 at 6 PM in the JC Penney auditorium.

“The event is important as it helps us promote our culture as well as traditions that many might not know. Performances and video clips will be featured throughout the night,” says Ken Tang, graduate, who is the MC for the event and who also served as president of the VSA during the 2010-2011 school year. There will also be food that showcases the Vietnamese culture.

The first Vietnam night was held in 2009. For that first event, the organization held fundraising events, selling homemade spring rolls and egg rolls in the Millennium Student Center (MSC). However, due to stricter policies, the VSA has found other ways to fundraise since then.

“I remember we sold out very quickly after setting the tables on the bridge at the MSC. Everyone seemed to enjoy our food. We made some profits that enabled us to make our first Vietnam Night happen,” says Tang.

Now, members wish to continue to spread the culture across the campus by holding their annual culture night once again.

The VSA also holds casual events for members including barbeque picnics and trips to Chicago and the Lake of the Ozarks, where members can have fun and bond with one another. But Vietnam Night is when the organization really gets to reach out to the UMSL community and connect with others to teach the campus about who they really are. It is one of the most meaningful experiences to the members.

Vietnam Night “helps us develop leadership, responsibility, event management, communication, organization, and group working skills… the night also gives us a sense of involvement and some fun while still being productive,” says An Le, sophomore, business.

The VSA was established in 2008 to bring together people of Vietnamese background. The organization includes students from Vietnam, students who have lived in the United States all their lives but who identify as Vietnamese, and even interracial Vietnamese people. They are all united by being students at UMSL.

“Our mission is to promote Vietnamese culture on campus along with other international student associations. We hope to lend a hand to the school to promote and maintain diversity across campus,” said Tang.

“We also get involved with the local Vietnamese community. Our members take part in multiple local special occasions such as Lunar New Year. Members have sung and walked in fashion shows. I was an MC at one [of] the events where a local Vietnamese organization honored Vietnamese students who performed well in schools,” said Tang.

“I believe VSA has the potential to become UMSL’s biggest cultural awareness group on campus. We can really strive to make a change in our community if we reach a common ground and look beyond our differences,” says Michael Nguyen, junior, communications, and vice president of the VSA. “Cultural diversity gives a voice to those who may not necessarily have one, and I believe that is what VSA has provided me and continues to do.”

Tickets to Vietnamese Culture Night are $7 for individuals and $5 for groups of two or more. Contact Trang Thu Do (314-583-3435) and Ly Pham (314-258-4089) for more information.