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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Vietnamese Student Association: A place to grow as one

Credit%3A+Andrew+Nguyen
Credit: Andrew Nguyen

At a predominantly white institution, Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) is a place where Vietnamese students and those interested in learning about Vietnamese culture can find community.

Andrew Nguyen, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship, has been in VSA for three years. This year, Nguyen serves as president of the organization. Nguyen said that there aren’t very many places for the Vietnamese students to gather at a predominantly white institution.

“We want to create a space in the community where all Vietnamese people and people who are not Vietnamese can learn more about the Vietnamese culture,” Nguyen said.

VSA has a presence on campuses across the country, but at Iowa State, the association is not known as well as at other campuses, according to Nguyen. There have been as many as 60 students showing up to a meeting, and the organization averages about 20-30 active members.

Anh Le, a junior in graphic design and vice president of VSA, has been in VSA for three years.

“If you want to have a welcoming and positive community where it’s very accepting, I think this is like a very good club for you,” Le said.

The VSA hosts various meetings, socials and fundraisers throughout the year. One way the organization raises money is by cooking traditional Vietnamese cuisine to share. Nguyen said his favorite dishes to cook are spring rolls and com sườn, a lemongrass pork with rice and mixed vegetables.

The student organization also has events where the main purpose is to educate members about Vietnamese culture and customs.

Hien Bui, a senior studying industrial technology, serves as the education chair for VSA.

“I joined the club and I met a good group of friends,” Bui said. “I really liked the activities that they prepared for us. Overall it just felt more like a family.”

Nguyen said he’s seen members of the club grow in their leadership and communication skills. They like to grow together as one.

The executive board emphasized that although VSA is for students who are Vietnamese, anyone can join as long as they are supportive of the cultures and customs and want to learn.

“If you really advocate and promote a minority group, I would really encourage you to join this group because it’s much more than just a hangout,” Nguyen said. “It’s much more than just, you know, a place where you get to meet new people. It’s really a place where you get to grow.”

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