Having no plans for the weekend of April 4-6, 2008 I decided to attend the Vietnamese American Students Conference(VASCON) on a whim.
I figured if for nothing else it should help occupy my time. I’ve never been much of a social person let alone attend any sort of conferences, in fact I am a bit socially inept. However, I came to the event with an open mind, ready and willing to absorb new information and meet interesting like minded people. I was not disappointed. The event is in its 4th year and this year’s venue is held at Georgetown University in Washington DC. The attendees came from all over the US, anywhere from Minnesota, Texas, California to Connecticut. I got a chance to walk around the campus and took in the sight, its unlike any university I’ve been to. The majestic gothic cathedrals made it seems as if I was walking through a medieval European town. From what I heard there are about ten Vienamese students attending Georgetown, including the one grad student that do not know her own way around campus 🙂 I am not sure if the student body have seen so many Asians before, but I got the impression that we were well received, noone did anything outrageous or behave erratically to taint our proud reputations.
The experience was wholly captivating and enjoyable. The conference itself was professionally handled by the organizers. I was impressed with the logistics behind the scenes. Everyone adhered to the normal time zone (EST) there were no reported incidents of anyone following Asian Standard Time (AST) All the workshops and events started on time, any hiccups that came about were graciously handled.
The few workshops I attended were very engaging and informative. I really enjoyed the presenters of the Mental Health within the Vietnamese American family workshop. Duong Hoang brought up a few good points, mental health issues is an undeveloped field within the Vietnamese community, what little we do have are attributed to superstitions. There are only 12 registered Vietnamese therapists in the United States. Soon to be 13 if Duong finish up his dissertation 🙂 There are many challenges in bringing the issue into mainstream focus, but with time and patience more people will become aware and realize that its treatable.
The keynote speaker, Mrs. Duy-Loan T. Le of Texas Instrument fame gave an awe inspiring speech that gave me goosebumps for the entire duration of the speech. Witty, talented and proud, Mrs. Duy-Loan is a wonderful source for aspirations among the young Vietnamese working professionals and students. Another notable event was the gala on saturday night. I was exposed to the various Vietnamese American musical acts from around the country. There were performances by Seriously, Carol Bui, Magetic North, Nam Ninja and my favorite, Applesauce (whose name is David btw.) His folksy music and comedic casual frankness was well received by everyone and for his encore he performed I Believe in Music by Mac Davis, which according to some have been mutilated by my rendition of it.
Overall, my experience with VASCON4 was an eye opener, I got to meet a lot of interesting people and made aware of the various pressing issues within the Vietnamese American community. I totally felt the VASCON love that was all around. The theme this year was for the attendees to take what they’ve learned and use it to plant seeds in their own community so we can all work together to build and strengthen Vietnamese Americans communities throughout the country. I will make an effort to get more involve with similar efforts in my community. If we all just take the first step to reach out then as a whole we can accomplish so much more. Here’s to us working together to build better communities for Vietnamese American’s throughout the world. So lets Pump Pump the Jesus.. .uhh Vascon spirit up and shout shout the Vascon spirit out, GOOOOOOOOOO VASCON.
PS. Props to the kids at UCLA, they bring much energy to the conference. They were on the dance floor until it was time for the perculator and then some.