VSA cultural night takes the stage

The Vietnamese Student Association at Portland State University opened their doors to students, faculty, family, and friends to present their 16th annual show, Ngàn Năm Anh Hùng (Millennial Hero’s) on February 13.

The creative mastermind behind the inspiring event was President of VSA, Thanh Tong. Tong introduced the night with a speech that set the humorous mood, “I just wish all the elders, the adults, parents, any one older than me [haha], a really happy new year with plenty of health and wealth.”

Brandon Nguyen a senior at Portland State, who was present at this event and has attended before, noted his surprise on how packed the event was with a good collection of different people attending. He even mentioned that this year theme compared to last year’s impactful emotional concept is more lively and up beat with a different concept.

Nguyen, even pointed out that this year’s event, more people—apart from the show or event—were dressed traditionally. And this event overall showcased familiar Vietnamese household culture that he found relatable. This event had things he hasn’t seen in a while and was delighted to have seen again.

To gain a more in-depth understanding of the compelling event, The Vanguard sat down with Jennifer Le, the senior adviser of VSA and former president of VSA last year, to ask her several questions:

Sarah Mustafa: What does Năm Anh Hùng mean exactly?

Jennifer Le: Together Ngàn Năm Anh Hùng means a thousand years of heroes. It’s something no one’s really heard of before but it’s meant to bring back all the memories.

SM: Tell me a little bit about the significance of this event tonight.

JL: This year’s show is about millennial heroes; which means all the last heroes within the last millenniums. The reason behind that is because Vietnam has a big history about being concurred or colonized and everything—so we wanted to remember those heroes’ that actually helped us get our country back, and to always be proud [that] we are Vietnamese.

SM: Tell me more about the central theme.

JL: We pretty much have many different ways of saying what a hero is. Like our parent[s] or our veterans that served the country. We wanted that to be the central theme of our show this year.

SM: Are you honoring any specific heroes for this event?

JL: We are honoring three heroes’ this year throughout this event: The Trung sister Ngo quyenm Le loi. And we play out those themes that by telling different stories to portray that. In the first part of the act we describe what kind of struggles we had to go through to really protect our country. The second act, during half of the show you’ll see more of a modern take on what a hero’s more like today.

SM: How long has VSA been around?

JL: We’ve had it for over 20 years. This is our sixth show. We didn’t start the culture shows right away, we had a couple years before the shows actually started.

SM: What did it take to pull this event off?

JL: During the summer we pick our themes; like what we really wanted to portray this year. Because this theme has yet to be divulged into by other VSA’s around the country we wanted to do something different. We wanted to create a different aspect overall with more ancient clothing that people don’t normally see with some cultural food.

SM: What particular message do you hope to get out to everyone?

JL: This year we really wanted to honor all the aspects of Vietnamese culture. We really hope that non-Vietnamese people can understand it too, and we hope that everything is portrayed in a way that they can grasp from our cultural concept. Like appreciating the different dances, stories and delicious food.

SM: What are you looking forward to about the event?

JL: One thing I’m looking forward to presenting to the crowd is the opening number, we worked really hard on it and we really wanted to honor it by showing how and what our culture is about. Overall, I hope everyone enjoys the show—and the months and months of hard work everyone from the VSA had a hand in putting this event all together.