The Lunar New Year event featured a performance of the dragon dance. photo by Nora Bethune

Vietnamese American Student Association celebrates Lunar New Year

VASA’s first event educated students about Vietnamese culture with food, games and performances.

This past Tuesday,Jan. 28, the Vietnamese American Student Association (also known as VASA) hosted an event on the second floor of the Student Union in celebration of Vietnamese New Year.
There was a line trying to get into the event. After scanning our IDs to check in, we were handed a red envelope with a sticker and chocolate coin. This is a spin on the original “Li xi,” which usually contains a small fortune given to children to welcome the new age on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Upon entering the room, we were greeted by a long table with food for everyone. Food choices included steamed or fried rice, calamari or tofu, with pot stickers, chicken and sticky rice cakes. Drink options featured the likes of lemonade, a cane sugar beverage and boba. At each station there was someone to hand out food and explain the options to those who weren’t sure on what it was.

After getting food, there were tables with bowls of shrimp cakes. After everyone was settled with food, Y Quan let people know that there were games and that there would be a dragon dance and fashion show later in the night with a Kahoot game about Vietnamese culture. I played Bầu Cua Tôm Cá with people I’ve never spoken to before. The point of the game was that you had five candies, and whichever one of the six tiles you bet on, if you were right, you could trade in your candies for a lychee jelly. Everyone was very kind and patient when describing the game. Once everyone understood the rules,we were all exclaiming when we won (or lost) and overall enjoying each other’s company.

After playing games, many sat down and got seconds or just talked with one another. At one point, there was a rhythm being played on a drum, and three teenagers showed us a traditional dragon dance. They illustrated a story by dancing as a unit, and the two girls performing as the dragon did an amazing job. After they were done with the dragon dance, the performers showed us traditional Kung Fu techniques. It was all an amazing display of their talents; you could tell that each one of them put in effort and it took skill to do what they did.

Following the dragon dance, it was time for the Kahoot. The trivia game was about Vietnamese culture and featured questions about Lunar New Year. It was interesting to see everyone trying to guess correctly; many people weren’t even Vietnamese. This shows that there was a lot of inclusion at this event, as the person who ended up winning wasn’t Vietnamese.

After the Kahoot there was a fashion show that showcased traditional Vietnamese wear. The fashion show was unique in the sense that each person who walked the mini runway had their own style. You could see a variety of colors and styles that each person modeled.
After the fashion show, it was all very laid back and chill. They insisted that we take food to our dorms since they had some leftovers. People left as they pleased; after grabbing some fried and steamed rice for my dorm, I departed.

Since VASA were able to host such an amazing event that showcased Vietnamese culture while being inclusive and teaching everyone who came, it came as a shocker when Y Quan, Vice President of the association, told me that it was a struggle to start the organization: “It was hard getting chartered all of the fall semester.” Only being chartered in September, they’re relatively new, so this Lunar New Year was the biggest event the organization has hosted so far.

VASA was extremely kind in letting Tulsa University students have a glimpse and participate in parts of their culture. Letting people participate and learn about different cultures is what makes The University of Tulsa so great. Complete with delicious food, interactive games and fun traditions, it was exciting to see what the association had to offer, and I can’t wait for the next event that they will host.

Post Author: Nora Bethune