MOST OUTSTANDING CULTURAL EVENT NOMINEE: TUVA – 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.

The goal of the Tulane University Vietnamese Association (TUVA) is to foster a warm, welcoming community of Tulane students through the exhibition of Vietnamese culture. The foundation of TUVA is comprised of 3 pillars: Culture, Community, and Charity. These pillars serve as the goals that TUVA continuously strives to accomplish at Tulane University, and TUVA’s Tet Fest has been one of the most prominent, successful events through which TUVA fulfills the culture pillar. TUVA Tet Fest is a cultural program held on February 17th, 2019 in the Kendall-Cram and Qatar Ballrooms that provides the Tulane community with an enjoyable opportunity to experience Vietnamese culture. The event was able to draw in over 200 participants coming from both Tulane and other universities. The event’s purpose was to provide Tulane an immersive, astounding exhibition of Vietnamese culture through many facets such as cuisine, performances, decorations, fashion, and many more. In addition, another goal of TUVA Tet Fest is to provide our TUVA members and non-member with an amazing opportunity to be more involved in our organization and meet many TUVA and VSA people, and this year’s event has successfully done so through many ways such as volunteering, performing, modeling, and also just attending the event to spend time with other TUVA members. In terms of our resources, TUVA was extremely efficient and productive in our utilization of funding and resources for the event. This year, we were able to book two ballrooms for Tet Fest, creating a more spacious venue for our guests to enjoy. In addition, all our game booths were relatively inexpensive to make through TUVA taking advantage of the resources we were given freely as a Tulane organization and as Tulane students; and in the end, the booths looked amazing and were very entertaining. In terms of our funding, TUVA used most of it to put on astounding performances such as the VLDT Lion Dance and also provide delicious food for our guests. As for marketing, TUVA used a multitude of methods to PR Tet Fest such as creative chalking designs on McAlister Road, beautiful graphics on our social media (FaceBook, Instagram, etc.), decorative banners in the Lavin-Bernick Center, and tons of eye-catching fliers on the Lavin-Bernick Center tables. All of these PR-ing methods were able to make Tet Fest one of Tulane’s most well-known events in the spring semester. Overall, Tet Fest showed to be one of TUVA’s greatest accomplishments of the year; and it has really propelled TUVA in fulfillment of the culture pillar at Tulane University.

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

TUVA Tet Fest has served the Tulane community by providing an entertaining, complete exhibition of the Vietnamese way of life. TUVA has used Tet Fest to give Tulane tons of exposure to authentic Vietnamese culture through cuisine, performances, booths, and fashion.

One of the biggest aspects of Vietnamese culture that TUVA exhibited at Tet Fest was Vietnamese cuisine. At the event, TUVA provided tons of unique dishes to our attendees such as egg rolls, vermicelli noodles, beef and broccoli, and many more. In addition, TUVA also provided its very first boba bar, which included flavors such as Thai tea, Vietnamese iced coffee, and jasmine green tea. There were also many toppings for our attendees to add to their drinks such as tapioca pearls, grass jelly, and rainbow jelly. The boba bar proved to be a huge success with our attendees, who would often come back to the bar for more drinks many times throughout the event. Also, TUVA for the first time was able to co-program with an on-campus business. TUVA enthusiastically co-programmed Tet Fest with the Viet-Nomies food truck on Tulane’s campus to provide more authentic Vietnamese cuisine at the event, including cha gio and vermicelli noodle. Having this opportunity to work with a Tulane business was an amazing opportunity that TUVA undertook, and it proved to be a huge reward by helping us provide the Tulane community with more authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Another aspect of culture exhibited at TUVA’s Tet Fest was Vietnamese fashion. This year, TUVA implemented an ao dai fashion show to exhibit to the Tulane community this famous form of Vietnamese attire. Our fashion show featured up to ten models, a candle-lit runway, Vietnamese music, and short descriptions of each ao dai in the exhibition. Through very careful and detailed planning, TUVA put on a fantastic fashion show with models flawlessly walking down the candle-lit runway with tons of poise, grace, and confidence. This aspect of entertainment was very popular with the crowd.

In addition to cuisine and fashion, TUVA also exhibited Vietnamese culture at Tet Fest through many great performances. Tet Fest’s repertoire of performers featured many Tulane, VSA, and non-VSA performances that all showed exceptional talent and provided great entertainment for our attendees. Some examples of our performers included well-known VSA members such as Khoi Nguyen and Christina Ngo. In addition, two of our most notable performances at Tet Fest were the TUVA Fan Dance and the VLDT Lion Dance. The TUVA Fan Dance was choreographed by TUVA’s very own Jamie Tran and Mary Tran, who worked relentlessly hard to put on such a fantastic exhibition of Vietnamese dance; and as seen at Tet Fest, they did not disappoint. The VLDT Lion Dance was also a huge favorite performance at Tet Fest. Two sets of lion dancers showed an energetic, extravagant, and interactive dance performance that really captivated the audience. Having all of these amazing performances really made Tet Fest a great success.

And lastly, another aspect of the Vietnamese culture exhibited at Tet Fest was the booths. This year’s Tet Fest included up to seven game booths that paid tribute to the animal of the current Lunar New Year: The Year of the Pig. Our booths fantastically exhibited many unique games and activities such as a New Years Resolution Tree, the Bau Cua gambling game, and many pig themed games such as Throw a Pigskin (Football) and Decorate a Pig (Pink Balloon). These booths provided tons of entertainment for our guests, and many of them really loved the activities while waiting for upcoming performances.
Overall, TUVA Tet Fest’s food, fashion, performances, and game booth really contributed to this amazing cultural event. This event is TUVA’s biggest event of the spring semester, and we believe that this is one of our best events yet.”

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

One of the biggest challenges that TUVA was able to overcome this year with Tet Fest was capitalizing on the co-programming opportunity with Viet-Nomies for the first time ever. Usually, TUVA provides much of its cuisine through off-campus sources that we have established strong relationships with. However, working with an on-campus business was a very unique opportunity that we ambitiously took on, but it did prove to be a challenge. Nevertheless, TUVA was able to successfully work with Vietnomies and provide amazing food at Tet Fest through strong, consistent communication with the business. In the end, both TUVA and the Vietnomies managers were very happy with how the event turned out; and this co-programming is something we hope to continue doing in the future.

Another new challenge for this year’s Tet Fest was making our very first boba bar. This was a great idea that TUVA always hoped to implement, but it did prove to be challenging. For instance, TUVA had to work with the Lavin-Bernick Center staff to get dispensers for our boba drinks. Also, TUVA had to prepare all 3 flavors of boba drinks in great amounts for Tet Fest during the planning process in addition to all other planning points of the events. Overall, this challenge was successfully overcame through detailed planning, hard work, and strong communication among the e-board and with the Lavin-Bernick Center staff.