The Tet Festival, put on by the Vietnamese Language and Culture (VNLC) student organization, was held in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom on the night of January 23, 2011. The annual festival was lively with Vietnamese food and cultural activities. “Tet” is short for “Tet Nguyen Dan”, which is the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year based on the Lunar Calendar.
Through the Tet Festival, I experienced being a performer for the traditional fan dance and a model for the traditional costume fashion show for the first time. It is an incredible experience—a special moment of my life that I want to share. I had absolutely no experience with traditional dance; I started as a beginner and worked hard at practice until I was finally able to show it to the audience on the big day.
While performing, I had to keep in mind that I must smile and exude brightness. When I heard the audience’s roaring applause, and saw my mother’s and friend’s beaming smiles, I knew all my hard work had paid off. It meant so much that I could make my mother proud. This was an experience that was completely unforgettable.
Performing in a culture night such as the Tet Festival was truly a dream come true. It was definitely something that I wanted to do before I graduated. During the many rehearsals and the performance, I bonded with my dance coordinator, fashion show partner, and dance mates, altogether forming lasting friendships.
Growing up, I have been very much influenced by Vietnamese culture. Though my family is Chinese, my parents were born in Vietnam—essentially we are culturally Vietnamese. Performing allowed me to pay tribute to the Vietnamese culture and the tradition of the Tet Festival.
Ultimately, the whole experience was indubitably one of the best experiences I had at UCLA and I will cherish it for the rest of my life!
As Thach Do, a second-year Math-Economics major and one of the co-coordinators of the event explains, “With the goal of spreading Vietnamese culture, the event combines the different aspects of Tet into a festival that would teach attendants about the Vietnamese culture through different media: taste, sight, and smell.” Coco Liu, a second-year Biology major and the traditional candle and fan dance coordinator, also comments that through the culture night, the community of faculty, students, family, and friends are able to learn more about Vietnamese culture and enjoy the night. According to Coco, the event serves as a bonding experience, and allows everything to magically come together. “Everyone worked hard towards the same goal: to make Tet happen.”
The culture night featured all types of entertainment: drama (a whole play), Vietnamese singing, a fashion show with traditional wear, a traditional candle dance, a traditional fan dance, a Lion Dance, and Kung Fu.