Vietnamese Student Association
The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) at William and Mary was founded in 1988 and was one of the first Asian American student groups at the college (VSA, 2004). Since its establishment, VSA has been the sole organization for Vietnamese students and all those interested in Vietnamese culture to intermingle as well as share their culture and experiences with the rest of the William and Mary community. VSA is first mentioned in the Colonial Echo in 1993 (pg. 238) as part of the umbrella organization, the Asian Student Union (now known as PACC). Along with the ASC’s other cultural student organizations at the time, VSA co-sponsored many events such as SA Cultural Awareness day and “A Taste of Asia” (Colonial Echo, 1993).
From the time that VSA was founded to about 2009, there was a relatively large population of Vietnamese Americans at the College and as a result, VSA membership was fairly high. In the 1994 Colonial Echo, the VSA page (pg. 225) features 26 members in its group picture, a majority of them ethnically Vietnamese. However in 2014 there are less than 8 regular members in the club (Colonial Echo, 1994). Current VSA president, Linda Baysore states that “post 2009, new incoming Vietnamese American students started to drop off and VSA had trouble bringing in and retaining these new students”.
In addition to promoting cultural awareness and education about the Asian American community, VSA also has held various philanthropy events in the past to support issues in the Vietnam region. In 2003, profits from the Vietnamese Cultural night and the Harvest Moon Festival were donated to the Catalyst Foundation to supply orphaned girls in Vietnam with books, school supplies and to keep them in school. In 2005, the organization held a silver screen prom and rose over $1000 to help in the long-term relief of South Asian tsunami victims. VSA is also a supporter of the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation that works to reunite kidnapped children in Vietnam that are being exploited for labor (VSA, 2009).
Traditionally, VSA has annually co-sponsored the Harvest Moon Festival with CSO. However last year low membership led the club to pull out of the event and use their funds to better benefit their remaining members. VSA did, however, host the “Pho-nomenal Party” in the 2013-14 school year, which about 80 people attended (pictures are on VSA’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WM.VSA ). Following the spring 2014 semester, no one has stepped in to lead the organization so unfortunately VSA will be inactive starting in the 2014-15 school year until someone chooses to reactivate and lead the student organization (Baysore, 2014).
Visit VSA’s homepage at http://wmpeople.wm.edu/index.php/site/page/vsa/home or at http://web.wm.edu/so/vsa/index.html to learn more about the Vietnamese Student population at William and Mary