Students gathered in Atwood on Saturday, March 24 to celebrate Vietnamese Culture Night at SCSU. As I walked in, it was hardly recognizable as the entire room was decorated from top to bottom in Vietnamese culture. Bright greens, whites, and pinks really made the venue pop and pleasing to the eye. Lotus flowers were also spotted all around the room, adding a delicate and sincere feeling to the atmosphere. The theme of the night was street market and by the smells of milk tea in the air, the sight of beautiful pieces of art, and most importantly the feeling of welcome and sound of laughter and joy the entire night really made this night stand out above all others.
It resembled much of what you would find if you were at an actual street market in Vietnam. They served bubble tea(first one free of charge) to all guests, which was delicious. There was a station with artwork made by members of their organization which you could bargain for with the “shopkeeper”, and of course posters and presentations made to a tee by the organization’s board members to teach guests about the Vietnamese culture. The display overall was very busy and energetic, just how I imagined an actual street market would be. It was really a wonderful sight to see and an experience not many get to have.
As the night had begun the room immediately filled up with delight. Those who attended came from every culture and part of the world you could imagine, and they all seemed just as excited to see what was up ahead.
Hosting the night were members Elijah Lo and Jennifer Nguyen and they gave nothing less than a stellar performance. Throughout their time, they brought the audience through what it meant to be Vietnamese from transportation to daily life, and from apparel, to most importantly food.
The dinner that was served that night was a traditional dish called Com Tam. This meal marinated pork tenderloin (“suong nuong”), served with rice, shredded pork skin (“bi”), a fried egg (“trung chein”), and pickled vegetables. It was simple, yet comfortable with a burst of flavor. However, the best part was the dessert. Just as simple but delicious like it’s counterpart Com Tam, was the delicacy, Che Thai. This amazing end to the meal was not complicated either. It was only Vietnamese fruits in half and half milk. The simpleness of the ingredients didn’t take away from how insatiable the food actually was.
Alongside dinner were some outstanding performances by the members of the organization. What really made them great were the vast array of different talents, making the show entertaining every step of the way. There were singers, dancers, guitar players, and even beat-boxers! All of which delivered exemplary performances that highlight some of the talents at St. Cloud State. The talented members of the Vietnamese Student Association are definitely not ones to ignore.
What really made the evening stand out, however, was the enthusiasm of the student organization, as well as the members that are involved.
The president of VSA, Linda Nguyen, is a warrior herself for her passion and loyalty to the organization. A member since her freshman year of high school, Nguyen demonstrates her dedication to her culture and her craft by organizing such an amazing night for all.
Angie Witte, an eight-year adviser of VSA and a long time board member of Multicultural Student Services expresses her gratitude towards the board members of the organization and all that they do,
“All of the women on the board of VSA are very near and dear to my heart. I’ve known them for a long time, and some of them since they have actually started college. It’s such a treat to see them grow and emerge as leaders on our campus and become such wonderful representatives of culture, leadership, and commitment to their education.”
What is most astonishing, however, are the people who make up the Vietnamese Student Association. Nguyen comments in her opening speech that you don’t have to be a certain culture to join an organization and learn about the cultures around you,
“Fun fact, most of the people who are in VSA aren’t even Vietnamese. So it makes me very happy that purely doing it because they have the commitment to learning the Vietnamese culture. It makes me extremely happy.”
The Vietnamese Culture night was definitely one to remember because of it’s welcoming atmosphere, delicious food, impressive performances, and the members who show their dedication and gratitude towards their organization and to educating others. There have been many cultural nights I have attended this past year, but this one was by far the one I’m going to come back to next year. Thank you VSA for your commitment to teaching us all about the culture and for giving me a night I will never forget.
Bethanie is a junior at St. Cloud State and is a mathematics education major with minors in mass communications and special education. This year, she is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle, a director for in house productions at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center and a math tutor. She enjoys writing, rock concerts, and serving her community and fellow students.