Georgetown University’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) organized “Vietcetera: Back to Vietnam,” its first cultural showcase, to celebrate contemporary Vietnamese identity March 19.
“Vietcetera” began with the story of a Vietnamese American named Đu Đủ returning back to Vietnam in hopes of fulfilling a marriage pact with his childhood best friend and first love, Chôm Chôm. The showcase follows Đu Đủ’s rediscovery of his Vietnamese heritage through several performance acts, such as a dance battle featuring traditional conical hats and dancing fans, as well as a fashion show featuring Vietnamese dresses and textiles.
Ashley Nguyen (SOH ’24), Ariel Le (SOH ’24), Angelette Pham (CAS ’24), Mary Truong (SOH ’25) and Mary Nguyen (CAS ’25) co-directed the show. The five directors collectively decided to name the production “Vietcetera” because it combines “Viet” with “etcetera.” The portmanteau indicates there is more to be said about the Vietnamese American narrative beyond the model minority myth, which incorrectly puts forth the successes of certain ethnic groups, like Asian Americans, as proof structural racism does not exist.
Over 130 cast and crew members collaborated to produce “Vietcetera,” according to Pham. More than 200 attendees supported the show, including some from other colleges and universities across the Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Associations (MAUVSA), of which Georgetown VSA is a member.
Culture shows have been a long-standing tradition for many MAUVSA schools. Pham, who also serves as the external vice president of VSA, said some schools have been performing annual culture shows for decades and that these inspired Georgetown VSA to finally make “Vietcetera” a reality this year.
“For the past two years, our involvement in MAUVSA has grown exponentially, and after supporting local universities’ culture shows, we were inspired to produce one ourselves to celebrate the Vietnamese identity with both the Georgetown and local communities,” Pham wrote to The Hoya.
Pham said Georgetown VSA’s members felt a mix of anticipation and anxiety about starting such an intensive production from the ground up.
“Before the show, we were both nervous and excited about Vietcetera,” Pham wrote. “For the first time, we had the opportunity to showcase our passion for Vietnamese culture and narrative and our pride in our organization. On the other hand, we were unsure if Vietcetera would grow into the large-scale showcase we had envisioned primarily since this was our first culture show.”
Le said the responsibility of executing “Vietcetera” together was fantastic for facilitating bonding within Georgetown VSA and learning new skills, despite being a daunting task.
“We were very lucky to have board members who were happy to try something new with us, and we all, as a community, came together with different skill sets to produce something great,” Le added.
Truong, who serves as the co-treasurer of Georgetown VSA, said the club’s board started planning for “Vietcetera” at the end of the 2021-22 school year.
“There were definitely a lot of sleepless nights watching the sun go down and rise all in one sitting,” Truong wrote to The Hoya. “Every single person that participated in Vietcetera played an important role and the show would not have been what it was without them.”
Dominic Pham (CAS ’23), one of two co-emcees, said he hopes both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese members of the Georgetown community can take away something meaningful from the showcase.
“I really hope that Vietnamese members of the Georgetown community were able to see a part of themselves represented on stage. The board drew a lot from folktales and songs our families used to share with us as we were growing up in Vietnamese households,” Dominic Pham wrote to The Hoya.
“As for non-Vietnamese members, I hope that they were able to learn a little bit more about our community and culture on campus, and become inspired to discover their own heritages,” Pham added.
Dominic Pham said “Vietcetera” feeds into Georgetown VSA’s broader goals of promoting cultural awareness, supporting and expanding the Georgetown Vietnamese community and advocating for Vietnamese communities across the world.
“We strive to actively be a welcoming and inclusive community for anyone interested in Vietnamese culture and narrative, and, given that Georgetown University is a predominantly white institution, we especially aim to foster a comfortable space for students of color and other marginalized identities to thrive,” Pham wrote.
Le said she feels immense gratitude for every person who was involved with “Vietcetera” and looks forward to continue celebrating Vietnamese culture on and off campus.
“This was my first time acting, and the people around me were so supportive and uplifting,” Le wrote. “In general, being able to do this work with friends has made the entire Vietcetera experience such a good memory that I would love to relive again.”
Full disclosure: Dominic Pham formerly served as the managing editor, creative director, and diversity, equity and inclusion director for The Hoya.
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