Vietnamese Student Association kicks off ACE program

James La speaks at the CSUN Vietnamese Student Association’s First Gen Meeting at CSUN on Sept. 22, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

Quinn Alexander, Reporter

Identifying as or being born in Vietnam is not a requirement to join the CSUN Vietnamese Student Association, which is a nonprofit student organization aimed at making lasting friendships and educating its members about the history and culture of the Southeast Asian country.

With over 80 new members estimated to join the organization this year, the club’s Anh Chi Em program is designed to help everyone get to know each other, make friends and find mentors. “Anh Chi Em” is a Vietnamese term that translates to big brother, big sister and sibling, respectively.

Their ACE event “mimics the big-little program in fraternities, except we like to put as much effort as we can to find the right person to be your big or your little,” said CSUN VSA President Tony Tran.

Vanessa Vuong wins a raffle at the CSUN Vietnamese Student Association’s First Gen Meeting at CSUN on Sept. 22, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Sonia Gurrola)

Spanning all of October, the club will host “ACE Month,” which will include five bonding events meant for matching a little to a big. Tran described one of those events as “speed acing” where bigs talk to the little for a short time before moving to another person.

To Tran, the ACE program is just as important to the club as sharing Vietnamese culture, which is why he wanted to become president. “I know as a commuter school, it is really difficult to find friends at CSUN,” said Tran. “I wanted to become president of this club so I can help recreate that experience and share it with new incoming members.”

The most significant event that VSA hosts is their annual Vietnamese Culture Night, a play showcasing different aspects of Vietnamese culture using traditional dances and music. They use this night to “show the community here at Northridge, and as an opportunity to share our experiences as Vietnamese Americans,” said Tran. This year, CSUN is collaborating with USC to have a joint VCN.

Due to the relaxing of COVID-19 guidelines, CSUN VSA can bring back one of their most-loved traditions, the winter and summer retreat. Open to all organization members, the club rents an Airbnb away from campus to do bonding activities as one large group. According to the older alumni, these events were the heart of the club and brought everyone together as a family.

Club president Tony Tran at the CSUN Vietnamese Student Association’s First Gen Meeting at CSUN on Sept. 22, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Sonia Gurrola)

This year, the organization is collaborating with the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California to host “Northridge by Night,” a talent show that will be open to all VSA clubs in the union. The event is a parody of “Paris by Night,” which is a direct-to-video series that includes sketch comedies, folk songs and one-act plays, all focusing on expressing Vietnamese culture.

Tran is optimistic about the direction that the club is heading so far this semester. The club’s focus on outreach is apparent in everything from recruiting at tabling events to their social media accounts. Their new public relations chairs Jenny Yoon and Heather Nguyen have been working to add a touch of personality and an aesthetically-pleasing flair to their posts and stories.

“I’d like to believe that everyone on my board really seems to want to reach our goal,” said Tran. “And that is to help everyone make friends.” From weekly meetings to after-hours boba nights, the Vietnamese Student Association hopes to bring its members together through strong bonds and a love of culture.