Vietnamese Student Association at Louisiana State University

Most Outstanding Cultural Program - Pho Night

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.

One of our goals as VSA-LSU is to strengthen the Vietnamese-American awareness within our campus and community, and Pho Night was the perfect event for it. People love food, so what better way to bring people together and spread the Vietnamese culture? Pho Night was one of our most successful events that was held on Thursday, February 1, 2018. We advertised this event two weeks in advance on both Instagram and Facebook with a reminder post published the day before, and over 100 people attended our event. Our VSA-LSU club members, non-members within our LSU community, and our friends from other VSAs within the Gulf Coast region all came together to enjoy the all-you-can-eat pho event. Broths from different Vietnamese restaurants in Baton Rouge, like Saigon Noodles and Café Mimi, were provided, and attendees were able to get in line for a nice hot bowl of pho while interacting with their friends and peers.

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

The purpose of Pho Night was to serve both the LSU campus and Baton Rouge community by creating an open environment in which anyone is welcome, while also exposing those who attended to the Vietnamese dish, pho. Pho is a common favorite noodle dish among both Vietnamese and American communities, so this event was a great way to form a sense of unity between the two. People within VSA were able to invite their friends outside of the club, outside of LSU, and in the Baton Rouge community. The fact that the event was posted on Facebook and was open for anyone to view further enabled members within the LSU and Baton Rouge communities to come and taste a little bit of Vietnamese culture. Because of VSA-LSU’s push for community outreach, 119 people attended our Pho Night, the highest number recorded thus far.
The pho broths were graciously donated by six local restaurants: Saigon Noodles, Little Saigon, Café Mimi, Ava Café, Viet Garden, and Pho Dang. By tasting their delicious broths, guests were allowed a taste of the restaurant and the owners’ hard work. Guests were also notified of which restaurant’s broth they were being served when eating. Fliers and/or take-out menus of the restaurants were available for guests to take home. With the restaurants’ donations, VSA-LSU was able to advertise for and support the local Vietnamese businesses.

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

One problem that arose during the event was the distance between the kitchen and the dining hall. All the preparation was done in the kitchen – boiling noodles, distributing the noodles and meats into the bowls, and heating up the broths – but everything had to be carried in and out in order to serve pho out in the dining hall. We quickly adjusted to this issue and communicated a system in which the executive board members had designated jobs so that things were able to run smoothly.