Tulane University Vietnamese Association

Most Outstanding Cultural Program – Tet Fest

Describe the cultural program and how it meets the mission and goals of the organization. Details MUST include: Date of event, number of participants, program purpose (i.e. goals and objectives), member involvement, use of resources, and marketing techniques.

TUVA celebrated the Lunar New Year, one of the biggest celebrations in the Vietnamese culture on Sunday, February 18th. As the biggest cultural event hosted by TUVA annually, Tet Festival is an open-invitation to Tulane students as well as the New Orleans community. Each year, TUVA strives to host a better Tet Festival than the year before. Tet Festival is TUVA’s way of showcasing the Vietnamese Tet traditions in a way that can be enjoyed by everyone, even those unfamiliar with the culture. This past year, TUVA’s Tet program had 15 performances ranging from traditional cultural showcases from the local vietnamese community such as the Golden Lotus fan dance group and the Woodlawn Lion Dancing team to talent from Tulane’s own organizations such as POCappella, an acapella group for people of color. TUVA derives its programming from the three pillars (Culture, Charity, and Community) to serve its members.

How did this cultural program serve the campus and/or community?

The organization seeks to provide an edifying environment for minority students who feel lost or isolated from their own communities. As an organization that is predominantly composed of minority students, TUVA strives to empower these voices and also educate both the minority and majority of students on Tulane’s campus. TUVA’s Tet program allowed for people of different backgrounds from the community to come together in an inclusive environment and celebrate one of the most special events of the lunar year. Throughout the Tet Festival, TUVA members were encouraged to participate whether through a performance, volunteering, or being a part of the traditional fashion show. TUVA members were able to go behind-the-scenes and contribute to the programming of the cultural event by assisting with decorations, performances, food-serving, and facilitating booths. Ao dais were showcased throughout the event by the emcees, the e-board, as well as some general members. Authentic Vietnamese dishes were served from Vietnamese owned restaurants throughout the New Orleans community.

How did the organization overcome any challenges that arose while planning and implementing the cultural program/event?

Due to university regulations, it was difficult to cater authentic food; therefore TUVA had to outsource and prove to the university that bringing authentic food to the event was critical to our display of culture. Furthermore, because TUVA has a small member population, finding enough volunteers to effectively run the event was a challenge. However, these challenges were overcome by the EBoard members collectively reaching out to the surrounding Vietnamese community of New Orleans, as well as the VSA community in the gulf coast. For example, because UNO VASA had recently hosted their Lunar New Years Event, they were able to lend TUVA many of their decorations. Due to the overwhelming support from the VSA community, TUVA was able to have the manpower needed to drive this event to success.This year, the Tet Festival was able to attract nearly 300 members of the community. Families from all over the New Orleans community came to celebrate TUVA’s Tet Festival in order to get a taste of the Vietnamese culture. This year’s Tet tried to replicate a traditional “Hoi Cho,” which is the New Year’s festival held by the Vietnamese community and is typically outside with a large stage for 3 days’ worth of varied performances, multiples tents overflowing with people, tables, food from traditional Vietnamese food like pho, spring rolls, and banh mi to Vietnamese street food like grilled pork on a stick to boiled, grilled, or fried seafood, and games to win prizes. One of our booths held Vietnamese Trivia Crack, which tested knowledge of Vietnamese culture, language, history, and foods. Because of the uniqueness of TUVA’s Tet Festival, TUVA was invited to showcase and market the event on the FOX 8 channel.