College campuses are unique in that they are not just a place for academic study, but for the gathering of communities of all types of students with different interests and backgrounds.
Especially at a larger public institution like Tech, students are bound to find their place in at least one club that fits their passions and skill sets outside of the classroom.
At Tech, there are more than 60 chartered student organizations related to religious, racial, sex, gender and ethnic identity that promote the strength and celebration of their respective communities as well as the shared experience of their backgrounds with the general student body.
One of the larger community groups at Tech is The Vietnamese Student Association at Georgia Tech (GT VSA). According to their page, the organization was founded in 1994 to promote Vietnamese culture and the edification of traditions while seeking to promote awareness of the Vietnamese American identity; the GT VSA community’s founding principle was also to welcome students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds at the Institute to take part.
GT VSA is a part of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations in the Southeast and hopes to build meaningful relationships and establish a greater understanding and appreciation for different cultures.
People of Vietnamese descent are the fourth largest Asian American ethnic group in the U.S., making up about 0.7 of the total U.S. population. On Tech’s campus, GT VSA is one of the most prominent student organizations, hosting a variety of campus-wide events throughout the school year.
Cassie Huynh, third-year BCHM, and Zachary Wang, third year NEURO, are the social directors of VSA this year.
“Outside of giving a taste of Vietnamese culture to our campus’s students, our objective is to give people new friends to talk to. Love and friendship is an important aspect in VSA,”Zachary said.
Cassie added that, “the main goal of VSA is to embrace Vietnamese culture while fostering a strong community, regardless of ethnicity or race. Our Fall Moon Festival and Spring Gala are our two largest events that highlight cultural pride and Vietnamese traditions, and all of VSA E-Board and Leadership contribute in planning and organizing this event to show pride in who we are and how we grew up it’s especially meaningful to me since I grew up in a traditional Vietnamese household.”
Last Friday, the GT VSA hosted a Spray Paint Social at Burger Bowl. A new event this year, it was brainstormed and put into action all within this school year. Allison Wong, thirdyear CS, the Internal Vice President leads the planning process of these types of social events.
“In terms of big events within VSA like the Spray Painting Social, we plan these events around a month in advance. The directors and I will brainstorm what types of socials we want to plan and then I’ll plan out a schedule of things we need to do before the event in terms of getting funds and materials, room/space bookings and communicating with other EBoard members to distribute the word and market the event. This generally involves many meetings beforehand and constant communication between directors and EBoard meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page,” Wong said.
The Spray Paint Social and many other events are open and inclusive to all students on campus, and there are other programs and committees that members of the club can join on campus.
“VSA even has a flagship family program to get students that are hesitant on talking to the whole of VSA engaged by introducing them to a small group of individuals that are also looking for new friends! We call the program Anh Chi Em (or ACE for short)!” Wong said.
And although it is the largest Asian American identity club on campus, it is certainly not the only one. “we plan collaborations with other clubs like KUSA, FSA, CSA to help support the Asian community at Tech. There does need to be more recognition of what each Asian organization does as well as to represent them more within the GT community,” said Justine Le, third-year CHBE, and one of the co-presidents of VSA.
By preserving Vietnamese traditions, participating in community outreach and promoting cultural exchange with all students on campus, GT VSA supports not only the Vietnamese student community but enriches the entire student body of Tech.
It gives everyone a chance to participate in new opportunities by learning and appreciating a culture that is not their own as well as act as a space for Vietnamese American students to celebrate their backgrounds and create their own community on campus.
For students who are interested in upcoming events or just want to learn more about VSA, Wong told students to, “follow us on instagram @gt.vsa to be up to date with all events and join in the discord (in the link tree in Instagram bio) because that’s our main platform where we send out announcements and how you can easily meet new members within the organization.
VSA is really inclusive to everyone and we welcome everyone to come to our events, socialize and just have fun.”