Vietnamese Culture Night at WTAMU

Tova Kibal, Features Editor

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  • Members of the Vietnamese Student Association performed a traditional dance to the song “Dat Nuoc Loi Ru.”

  • A large crowd of students and faculty turned out for the “Vietnamese Culture Night” on Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Jack B. Kelley Legacy Hall.

  • Ethan Ngyuen of the Vietnamese Student Association performed a modern version of the folk song, “Tat Nuoc Dau Dinh” for the audience.

  • Dan Ngyuen and Mery Hy performed a duet of the song, “Sau Tat Ca.” Ngyuen sang the Vietnamese lyrics while Hy sang the English lyrics.

  • Association members performed a traditional Vietnamese dance called “Son” in which paper fans are commonly used in this style of dance.

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West Texas A&M University’s Vietnamese students shared a part of themselves and their home to the Canyon community at the eighth annual “Vietnamese Culture Night,” put together by the the Vietnamese Student Association.

Over 200 students and faculty showed up to experience Vietnamese food and traditional and modern performances put together by the association 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, in the Jack B. Kelley Legacy Hall. The event included food from the Giac Hoa Temple in Amarillo and performances such as dance, a duet and a modern music interpretation of an Vietnamese poem.

According to association President Thao Ho, the goals of the Vietnamese Student Association are to facilitate culture on campus, give students a chance to participate and show their pride of Vietnamese culture and to teach students how to be a leader.

“‘Vietnamese Culture Night’ is an event that is a chance for Vietnamese students and Vietnamese American students to know more about the culture, get to know people and work together,” Ho said.

Dr. Robin Clark, clinical assistant professor of business law, is the faculty adviser of the association along with Dr. John Francois, assistant professor of economics. Clark believes that the Vietnamese students’ presence makes the WTAMU campus richer and more interesting.

“I am the lucky faculty member who has the honor of advising the Vietnamese Student Association,” she said. “I want to express how fortunate WT is to have these students join us in their educational journey.’’

The association focuses on helping its members overcome the challenges of being an international student and makeing them feel like they belong at WTAMU, even if they are far away from home.

“Working as a team will teach them a lot of things and increase their confidence,” Ho said. “Most international students, because of the language barriers, they are really shy…Giving their culture and giving their true self is a good way to make them feel like they belong to the campus and to feel more proud of themselves.”

Biology major and association member Mery Hy performed a duet with fellow association member Dan Nguyen, as well as the two traditional dances showcased during the event in honor and appreciation of their ancestors. The dance group had prepared for three hours once a week during the last seven weeks before the event.

Hy is Vietnamese-American and was born and raised in Amarillo. Being first-generation Vietnamese born in America, she experienced a lot of Vietnamese culture growing up and was able to connect with people who share a similar background to her in the Vietnamese Student Association at West Texas A&M University.

“I am pretty glad I joined because I got to meet some new people, good friends, and I got to experience more of the Vietnamese culture,” she said.

Hy grew up speaking Vietnamese at home, but lost some of the language during her time in American school. She explained that joining the association has helped her increase her Vietnamese skills.

  Ho took over the position as the Vietnamese Student Association president as a second-semester freshman, and explained that she was overwhelmed with the responsibility at first but that she is very happy with the outcome of the event. Being a part of the association and putting together such a big event is a time commitment, and the students put together the whole event outside of school and work hours.

“As a president, I can’t describe in words how much I appreciate that,” she said. “For me, when you become a leader and you see your members do work, you really appreciate that.”

Ho explained that the association provides a support system for its members, and strives to help international students at WT with everyday tasks such as going to Walmart or the airport, a common problem for many internationals as few don’t have a car.

“It is meaningful to me that when we have something, we share with others,” she said. “Having a great support system and a cozy atmosphere is my biggest goal.”

Next semester, Ho is hoping to keep that tradition and help the association to grow, and continue spreading their message and passion for Vietnamese culture all over the campus. If you are interested in joining the Vietnamese Student Association at WTAMU, contact President Thao Ho for more information at [email protected].