ASU Vietnamese Student Association experiencing club's golden age

Club says efforts of inclusion are responsible for record high member turnout

A part of the larger Asian-Asian Pacific American Students' Coalition, the Vietnamese Student Association is a cultural club on campus that focuses on Vietnamese culture, identity and inclusiveness.

Andrew Cao, supply chain management junior and the club's president, said his personal mission for the club is to provide a safe environment for incoming freshmen who are interested in Vietnamese culture and who want to be a part of the community. 

“That’s what I came into when I first joined the club, and I thought that was a very valuable experience that not a lot of clubs take into consideration and (something they) forget -- to make it very easy and approachable," Cao said. 

Cao said the goal of the club was to bring people closer together while learning about Vietnamese culture because, he said, it is important to have a grasp on their own cultural identity. He said this is especially true in a society in which people are rapidly losing their cultural identities.

The association's membership is open to every student at ASU. Eric Le, a biochemistry sophomore and the club’s social media coordinator, said that this year, the association focused heavily on being more inclusive and attributed the high growth it has experienced this year to those efforts. 

"This year, we were all about inclusivity, and that is an issue we have brought up, which may have been why membership was lacking in the past," Le said. 

The VSA hopes to be inclusive in several respects — one meeting this semester focused on the inclusion of students from the LGBT community, Le said.

Le said the meetings, which he called "informal," cover different aspects of Vietnamese culture and serve as a way to relax and socialize. 

Despite lulls in membership and activity in the recent past, the VSA has seen a sharp increase in club membership this past semester with more active members, which allowed the group to do bigger and much more frequent club events, Cao said.

The VSA hosts a number of events that are open to the general public. The club recently put on a Pho King Challenge, which was a competition to see who can eat the biggest bowl of pho. Quy Nguyen, supply chain management sophomore and the club’s treasurer, described it as a social event. 

“We also had people who wanted just eat a normal bowl of pho and enjoy their time and hang out, and for that they were able to enjoy pho at a discounted price. It was an event where we tried to bring people together,” Nguyen said. 

The club also recently hosted a veteran’s dinner where the club invited politicians and those who fought in the Vietnam War to talk about their experiences. At the same event, current politicians  talked about the role of Vietnamese people in the community and how things have progressed with time. According to Nguyen, the club has close ties with Vietnamese community leader Kevin Dang, who has worked under Arizona Senator John McCain.

The club has a busy calendar planned for the upcoming spring semester, including a family retreat, a joint retreat with the University of Arizona VSA and a cultural gala. 

In the meantime, students can attend the last VSA general meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 14th in BA L1-25 at 6 p.m. and the club's Boba Social on Nov. 21 at Milk Tea 101 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Reach the reporter at or follow @seaboiii on Twitter.

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