Vietnamese Student Association to hold Notre Dame by Night
Nicole Simon | Friday, February 1, 2019
The Vietnamese Student Association of Notre Dame will put on its annual cultural show, Notre Dame by Night, on Saturday as a celebration of the Lunar New Year.
Though this is only the third year the club has put on the show, it has grown exponentially over the past several years and become a cornerstone of the club, the club’s president and vice president, juniors Nhu-Y Nguyen and Emily Luong, said. Once freshmen with minor roles in the show when it first debuted in 2017, they are now in charge of leading the club and organizing the show.
Nguyen said that, like the club itself, the event has a two-fold mission: to celebrate Vietnamese community among the club’s members and to share their culture with others.
“It’s a cultural club, so [our mission is] obviously to spread awareness of our culture on campus, and also to our members, especially those who are not really well-connected with our roots and our culture,” Nguyen said.
The club uses its events to promote Vietnamese culture for Vietnamese-American students, international Vietnamese students and non-Vietnamese students who are interested in the culture.
“With this club we want to create unity and spread awareness of the culture especially, through food, through performances, through music,” sophomore Frankie Tran, the club’s event coordinator, said. “We want to make this club and this mission come alive through the events.”
Notre Dame by Night, which reaches the club’s widest audience, is an evening of Vietnamese song, dance and food.
“It is a series of performances and then the different aspect of the story is a skit interwoven through the performances, and because of that we show a narrative through our performances and through the skit and through the songs,” Tran said.
The narrative of this year’s performance is centered around the theme of identity.
“Every year, we change up the skit or the message we want to bring to the audience,” Tran said. “This year, we’re really focusing on a student’s identity of how sometimes students might not know or might not place a large emphasis on their Vietnamese identity and may push it away to focus on their dorm community or academics. Hopefully we can bring that to life in a very respectful way.”
The notion of multi-cultural identity is something that the club values because of its importance for many Vietnamese students.
“When I moved here to Notre Dame, there was definitely a regional culture shock in the sense of going from a lot of diversity to a little bit, and because of that, I think back home, you weren’t really aware or at least proud of your ethnic identity because you took it for granted, almost,” Tran said. “And so for here, you kind of place more emphasis because there are so few and you really want to strengthen that background and really want to share it with others who have not had that exposure.”
Notre Dame by Night is also a celebration of Tết, the most important holiday of the Vietnamese culture that celebrates the Lunar New Year.
“Overall the story is pretty much about identity, but the other story that is being told is what is our culture when we talk about Lunar New Year?” Nguyen said.
The show is equally about sharing Vietnamese culture with others as it is about celebrating the culture among the members themselves.
“We hope to bring it to our members who are away from home and also to bring it to the Vietnamese community who don’t have the youth to bring the spirit of celebration and just to have a place for them to gather and to really celebrate with each other,” Nguyen said.
Luong said this event in particular stands out because of the time and effort that goes into planning.
“To me, I feel like this event really brings most of our members together and actually work towards one goal,” she said.
Most of the club’s yearly events are activities catered mainly towards the members of the club. This one stands out because it is planned and performed by the members themselves and shared with a wider audience.
“In other events, it’s the board organizing something and our club members attending it,” Luong said. “For this, it’s our club members and everyone working together to put on something for the entire Notre Dame community to come and enjoy.”
Notre Dame by Night will be held Saturday in Washington Hall at 7 p.m.