Ethnic evening pleases crowd

By Linda Luk

Vietnamese Cultural Night drew a crowd of more than 250 people Friday with a presentation on the mixture of the past and present culture of the country.

The culture night, hosted at the Newman Catholic Student Center and sponsored by the Vietnamese Student Association, along with the Southeast Asia Club, had presentations on traditional dances to stories from students about their experiences at Vietnam.

“Overall, the Vietnamese Cultural Night was a success; we had a big turnout, about 250 to 300 people, and we had a variety of entertaining and cultural performances,” said Hanh Nguyen, head coordinator and vice president of VSA. “The whole show and every performance was a success, and everyone put a lot of dedication, time and hard work for planning this Vietnamese cultural night within a month period and making it a memorable night.”

The cultural night drew a large and diverse audience, with people ranging from Caucasians to Asian Americans, from children to adults and faculty and students as well.

“I decided to come to support VSA,” said Kevin Cristi, public relations officer for the Asian American Association. “I felt that I needed to support my fellow Asian community.”

The night consisted of a variety of presentations ranging from performances of Vietnamese songs, slide presentations, modern and traditional dancing and even a game show.

Mary Pasko, a senior communication major, attended the cultural night to support a friend who hosted the game show.

“My favorite part was the game show; my roommate won something,” Pasko said.

Kate Navalez, a public relations officer for VSA, was glad that not only Asians and Asian Americans came.

For the event, members of surrounding institutions such as the University of Iowa and Senn High School from Chicago were invited to attend and participate.

“We were looking for traditional dance groups, and they volunteered to help us out with the performances,” Hanh said.

Kim Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Student Union of Chicago, hosted the show.

“My friend asked me to emcee, and I thought it would be interesting to experience something outside of Chicago,” Kim said. “The show was great, the turnout was impressive; a lot of people showed up.”

This was the first year the Vietnamese Student Association hosted a cultural night and it will not be the last.

“We will have another Vietnamese Cultural Night for next year, but with a little bit more planning and preparation,” Hanh said. “Since this is the first time VSA is having the Vietnamese Cultural Night, it was not perfect the way we had planned. However, I’m happy with the overall show, performances and turnout, but I was a little disappointed with the deejay.”

Although the event had its share of problems, such as not enough food, the night did accomplish its purpose, Hanh said.

“Our purpose of the event is to promote Vietnamese culture and heritage at NIU and its community, and we hope the audience learned and become aware of the different aspects of our Vietnamese culture — traditional dances and music, language, the people, lifestyles, costumes, food, martial arts, refugee life, geography and arts and crafts,” Hanh said.

Susan Russell, director of the Center for Southeast Asian studies, said the show was original.

“I think it was fabulous,” Russell said. “Very innovative and a lovely combination of the past and the present of Vietnamese culture.”