Most Outstanding Organization - Nominee
What are the purpose and goal(s) of your organization, and how has it met or exceeded those goals?
The purpose and goal of Tulane University Vietnamese Association is to establish a network of individuals who are interested in understanding the Vietnamese heritage, have a sincere appreciation for Vietnamese traditions and beliefs, and are dedicated to the preservation of the Vietnamese way of life. This long standing purpose of TUVA is intended to expand the horizon of cultural diversity and to enhance the learning experiences for students who select Tulane as their temporary home. TUVA stems from 3 pillars: Culture, Charity, and Community.
TUVA hosted its biggest event of the year called Tet Festival, which is the celebration of the Lunar New Year. This past year showcased the biggest program yet, brimming with 15 performances ranging from traditional cultural dances like the fan dance and the lion dance from the local Vietnamese communities, Tulane student organizations such as Green Envy, TULA, and POCappella, hip hop dancers, a Vietnamese fashion show and more; over 20 trays of authentic Vietnamese food from Vietnamese owned restaurants in the New Orleans area; and booths and a photo booth for attendees to enjoy and take in. 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 food. TUVA also participated in Cultural Night, hosted by UVSA Gulf Coast. TUVA also offered carpooling to those without cars (which is a good majority of TUVA members) to the Tet Festival in New Orleans in late February, so members could experience the local Vietnamese festival. TUVA is hosting an Asian-American Representation Movie night at its last general meeting and fostering a discussion on how society perpetuates Asian stereotypes and how recent movies are trying to break the stereotypes.
Tulane hosted this year’s Date Auction, which is the Gulf Coast region’s biggest philanthropy event, in McAlister Auditorium. With over 800 people in attendance and 20 people who were auctioned off for dates, $18,200+ were raised for the Pacific Links Foundation. Partial amounts of the sales’ proceeds of many boba sales have also been donated to the CPP. TUVA additionally sells TUVA wristbands for $1 each to boost TUVA gear as well as sex trafficking awareness. In addition, TUVA created TUVATaxi to address the needs of the Tulane community while also promoting CPP. TUVATaxi are rides to the airports from Tulane’s campus, and TUVATaxi raised ~$930 and ~$645 in the fall and spring respectively through this fundraiser. During the airport rides, TUVA drivers would try to promote Pacific Links and what the beneficiary is and where the patrons’ funds go.
Family is the most influential and profound value of Vietnamese culture, where Vietnamese people take care of their own families in every way possible. TUVA tries to emulate this value with new measures taken up this year. Although TUVA is an organization that celebrates the Vietnamese culture, anyone from any background (racially, politically, socioeconomically, sexuality, etc.) can join and learn and be apart of its community. TUVA has its own groupme for its members as well as a Facebook group that encompasses the current students as well as the alumni of TUVA, which both groups’ platforms began this year. Both allow those included to establish a deeper connection with everyone in the respective groups. The organization’s biggest event in the fall is Food Social, which is usually held in September. This year’s Food Social was the best in attendance with 400+ people with a majority from Tulane as well as other VSAs. We foster our community by posting several opportunities for excursions such as a trip to Kung Fu Tea (a local boba tea chain), going to another cultural organization’s event such as Culture Shock hosted by the Indian Association at Tulane University, going to an external Vietnamese Student Association’s event such as Xavier’s Tet Festival or UNO’s canoe trip. In the fall, TUVA annually hosts a Pho/Skating or Bowling Night, where TUVA pays for ~25 members to enjoy a meal of pho from a local Vietnamese restaurant (this year was Mint Modern on Freret Street), and then members and eboard can go enjoy a night of bowling or skating together. This year, we opted for skating in Kenner. Additionally, TUVA piloted a Big/Little Program this year, where upperclassmen volunteered to be Bigs for incoming underclassmen. This is especially important when it comes to minority students on Tulane’s campus because TUVA serves as a home for those who need the organization for solidarity as well as relatability. TUVA also hosts an annual game night, restaurant outings to support local Vietnamese restaurants, and an annual senior banquet held for graduating seniors but any member can attend the banquet.
Address how your organization was outstanding in the following areas: recruitment, marketing, outreach to campus community, use of resources, officer training and event planning.
Recruitment: In the beginning of the academic year, Tulane holds an Activities Expo, where the 200+ organizations recruit new members but also retain old members within our ListServ. Executive board members found the best method was to attract first year students and to also use personal approaches in addition to food. Because Tulane is a predominantly caucasian institution and because most students hail from other parts of the country, they do not feel a strong connection to join a Vietnamese Student Association; however, TUVA emulates a welcoming and inclusive environment for anyone from any background to embrace the Vietnamese culture and foster community. Our public relations chair creates relatable flyers and constitute vibrant chalkings around campus as listed below.
Use of resources:
The Student Organization Center (SOC): The SOC offers many resources to student organizations on Tulane’s campus such as banner paper, paint markers, supply markers, limited free printing for flyers and etc, meeting space, tables for sales and tabling information, etc. New Orleans: This city is a hot spot for Vietnamese cuisine and the mindset of resiliency. Due to Tulane’s undergraduate student government funds, TUVA was able to strengthen its business networks by giving back to the Vietnamese restaurants such as August Moon, Namese, Dong Phuong Bakery, Mint Modern, and Pho Bistreaux (after seeking approval to cater with off-campus food)
Cars: As the minority of people who have cars at Tul. ane, TUVA created an event catering the the needs of Tulane students during breaks while also grasping the opportunity to market CPP. We also use our cars to find supplies for our events, bring members to local VSA or Vietnamese community events. Recycling jugs: Under Tulane food regulations, organizations can only have pre-packaged items for sale; therefore, because we homemake the boba tea, we have to make approximately 125-150 cups before the start of the sale. This past spring semester, TUVA implemented the use of gallon jugs in place of all pre-packaged cups, which saved many messes and spillages.
Alumni Officer training:
After elections, TUVA has implemented the “Transfer of Powers” workshop where the successors sit down with the predecessors about their positions. Each of the predecessors prepare a document filled with tools that they’ve used throughout the school year including OrgSync, Google Drive, Canva, and more, tips about what didn’t go so well and what did go well, and ideas that they didn’t have the time or resources to fully execute. The successors are able to ask any questions that they may have about the position.
Typically, after transfer of powers, there would be one event that the new board could plan and execute, so they could learn how to plan an event with the help of the old eboard using what they’ve learned from the workshop; however, our events were canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
Camp Delta: If the e-board members are in the state and are available, they would attend Camp Delta, a leadership retreat for VSA by VSA. By attending Camp Delta, TUVA officers are able to hone their leadership skills and also network with the other VSA officers and general members in the Gulf Coast, which is truly an exciting enriching and exciting opportunity for Tulane members to interact with other schools.
V-Day: TUVA has implemented its first ever V-Day in the beginning of the school year for team-building specifically for TUVA’s eboard and especially for those who were unable to attend Camp Delta. In this past year’s V-Day, Brenda, one of TUVA’s senior advisors along with Marlou de Guzman and Bradley Howe, planned V-Day right after the election of the freshman representatives to address the weaknesses such as communication and accountability and gaps of understanding in TUVA’s eboard. The eboard thoroughly enjoyed learning about everyone’s integral roles and how each position contributes to the success of TUVA. V-Day included activities that involved trust, communication, reliability, accountability, logistical explanations, and more over a whole day together in City Park, New Orleans.
Event planning: TUVA kept its traditional events such as Food Social and Tet but has improved outreach and its execution. This past year’s Food Social has been the most successful yet with 300+ people in attendance and just a great place to meet new people in the very beginning of the school year. We had catering from Dong Phuong Bakery, Dragon King, August Moon, and Panda King to support local businesses. Catering to our members, TUVA has hosted numerous food and drink sales throughout the year to increase CPP funds as well as raise awareness of TUVA. TUVA’s biggest event of the year, Tet, consisted of planning committees and numerous meetings dealing with budget, decorations, booth planning, etc. Although TUVA couldn’t truly control the date due to scheduling issues, Sunday was still a successful day!
How did the organization work together to maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses?
Because TUVA is in the heart of UVSA Gulf Coast (New Orleans), the organization pulled its resources from the vibrant city’s brimming culture and its strong Vietnamese presence. TUVA builds connections with local Vietnamese restaurants in order to promote authenticity and culture.
Graphic Design: Jessica Tran blew previous TUVA years’ graphic designs with overflowing creativity and a bubbliness that embodies TUVA’s presence as seen in all of our Instagram and Facebook promotions in addition to her new experience in GC Summit’s Marketing team. Passion and leadership: TUVA is a home for those who need us and promotes leadership in various spectrums in Tulane’s campus. From orientation leaders to building managers to researchers to club sports to resident advisors to leadership retreat planners to scholars to everything else in between, TUVA members are distinguishable from other leaders on Tulane’s campus. The members of TUVA are dedicated to spend endless hours on its functions to produce results.
Because Tulane is a predominantly caucasian institution with 4% of the undergraduate population being Asian, TUVA holds a special home for a small population of people who choose to make this organization their home. TUVA overcomes this weakness by broadening its efforts to include anyone and everyone who wishes to experience the Vietnamese culture including family.
Although TUVA is a relatively small organization, it projects a big voice filled with passion and devotion. TUVA is constantly striving to improve member retention in an institution lacking diversity in various spectrums, which proves to be difficult. However, to overcome this obstacle, TUVA hosts a welcoming environment, and while our organization needs work of overworking the e-board members, we are making progress of creating small ways like recurring movie nights/game nights/Big-Little Program to
Because the eboard meets weekly and spends a long time planning events for the organization, there is a natural tendency for the eboard to be closer, so the general members may occasionally feel like it is eboard centric. However, in efforts to debunk this cliqueness, TUVA invites its members to Tulane’s overflowing events outside of TUVA to build community. For example, there is campus programming such as Tulane After Dark or other multicultural organization’s events such as Holi, Culture Shock, Celebrasian Week, Black Arts and Culture Festival, etc. that TUVAnians engage and take part in to cultivate support for other minorities on Tulane’s campus.
Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2017-2018 academic year.
In the very beginning of the school year, TUVA’s executive board lacked finite planning and a close bond to be able to be more efficient. After V-Day, TUVA was able to integrate the freshman representatives and also learn more about each other’s values and leadership styles. Going forward, eboard members had to fall back on the skills and lessons learned from V-Day when facing a difficult situation.
For Food Social, TUVA’s biggest event of the fall semester, TUVA noticed that groupme messages and personal messaging were the best methods of marketing, and so everyone puts the Facebook event page and an ad to their respective groupmes, which reaches larger groups of people the TUVA eboard members wouldn’t have otherwise had outreach for. As a result, Food Social had a record-breaking 300+ people in attendance, which drove inspiration for the rest of the year to make future events as successful as Food Social. Next year, there are plans to include performances and a bigger range of authentic Vietnamese food at Food Social.
For Tet, the biggest and most anticipated event, TUVA had changed the event’s format, creating committees for the following: decorations, booths, registration, volunteers, programming, and marketing. TUVA tried to replicate a traditional Tet festival (Hoi Cho) as much as possible in an indoor setting and with Tulane’s regulations; therefore, the idea of implementing booths arose. 4 booth including little games like ring toss or a Vietnamese Trivia Crack were attempts to captivate attendees in addition to the plethora of performances ranging from traditional and contemporary. This was the most packed Tet festival relative to previous years, and the addition of booths was helpful but more logistical plans need to be done for future Tets if booths will be happening in regards to noise and the raffle ticket. A marker of TUVA’s growing prominence is the New Channel FOX reaching out to TUVA to feature the Tet Event for the Vietnamese New Year, which was very exciting!
Marketing: There was more emphasis on marketing on this year’s efforts in order to get TUVA’s name out there and the remark on the hard work that VSA does for the betterment of the student body but also for the philanthropy of Vietnam. We have developed more aesthetically pleasing graphic designs as well as banners, chalking, and flyers to promote TUVA’s events and to attract other crowds of people.
New events: TUVA has implemented more engaging activities after general meetings such as game nights in efforts to build community rather than have a meeting pouring out information and then leave. Members particularly enjoy shared and inclusive spaces that they could relax and learn more about each other. In conjunction with the Big-Little Program, Spring Roll Dinner was created in the end of the Fall semester. Although the execution of Spring Roll Dinner was a little rocky in terms of delegation and planning, the event pulled through and resulted as the Littles’ favorite event of the year thus far. For the eboard members who planned Spring Roll Night, those mistakes were lessons to better communicate, delegate properly, and hold members accountable. TUVATaxi, as mentioned before, was created to raise funds for CPP, which was incredibly successful. Notes of improvement like shifts, # of cars, advertisement, price, etc. were taken into account from the first TUVATaxi in the fall and were implemented in the spring version of TUVATaxi, which did make the event more efficient.
TUVA officially has a new phone number, which any eboard member has access to and receive messages regarding TUVA from! This Google Voice tool has definitely made events like TUVATaxi and our food sales more efficient and informationally central in regards to confirmation messages or cancellation. (985) 888-0543 is the number.
Cutting back on # of events: Growth does not always mean creating new events. Sometimes it means to improve the already great events to make them even better for members to enjoy such as the general meetings, Food Social, and Tet as mentioned above. Due to the high volume of events that were already happening like TUVATaxi, TUVA Bonanza, Elections, other VSA events, etc, TUVA decided not to plan for Rice Bowl, the GreenWave Market, and the International Festival. TUVA realized that more quality fewer events are better than more frequent and less put together events, which significantly helped the growth of the organization and also helped the mental states of all the members.
TUVA's presence has greatly grown this year, and have formed stronger bonds within the club and with other VSAs. We strive towards to continue to support our region and the minorities on Tulane's campus!