On Monday Jan. 19, Royce Hall hosted Vietnamese Student Union’s Culture Night called “Fight to Keep” to a sold-out audience. In remembrance of the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, this cultural production followed a family’s journey through separation and the destruction of their home.
Choosing Martin Luther King Jr. Day to commemorate the the Fall of Saigon was a conscious choice, symbolizing the importance of continued efforts in social justice and activism.
I sat down with fourth year psychobiology student Jessy Nguyen, who is the External Vice President for Vietnamese Student Union, to learn more about the significance of this event.
1. What does Vietnamese Culture Night (VCN) mean to you?
To give some background, I was involved with VCN for 3 years. The first year I was part of VSU Modern, and the second and third year I was Traditional Coordinator with Kristeen Chu. I think VCN entails a lot of things. For one, I think as a board member of VSU, we always strive to have the community inside and outside of UCLA to understand about Vietnamese history and current community condition. VCN provides us a path to deliver that message to over 1800 audience members within and outside of UCLA. This year was so special to me because the story was about the escape from a war-torn land for a better opportunity. I related to this story because my family also had our own unique but similar story of how my parents and their parents escaped Vietnam.
2. What did you think this year’s turn-out?
In terms of the turn-out, we completely sold out. Every ticket was given out. In terms of the production, I thought it was beautifully put together. Like I said in my previous response, this year’s VCN relates to many families who escaped Vietnam post 1975 (i.e. after the fall of Saigon). What made it even more special is that it related to both the first generation who came to the U.S. AND the second generation like myself. With that being said, the production could not have been possible without the community’s effort from VSU Modern, WeTradLA (VSU’s Traditional Team), AweChords, Stage/Props crew, Fiscal, and so much more.
3. When and how did VCN began?
VCN began 35 years ago. So I believe it began in 1980. I am not too sure how it started but I know that we have always kept VCN in Royce and we plan to continue to keep it in Royce even if it means fighting for money.
4. Any last thoughts/comments you would like to make?
I just want to say that I encourage anyone (even if you are not Vietnamese) to be part of VCN or any other culture night. It’s an experience you won’t forget.