My fourth artifact is the 2019 VSA Culture Show. At the end of my freshman year, I took over my term as the new Philanthropy Project Chair for the Vietnamese Student Association. This role challenged me to change the way I had approached leadership positions. This position was a weekly responsibility of close to 12 bours in the months leading up the show. I struggled to balance my academics, personal life, and mental health. I kept wondering if I had made the right decision by taking on this responsibilty because I began to sacrifice parts of my life for a student organization. I reached the darkest and most difficult time of my life this past winter.
I decided to persevere because I had too much respect for the other leaders to give up. I remembered the reason I joined VSA in the first place. I grew up knowing nothing about my culture except for which foods tasted good and how to greet my grandparents when they walked in. VSA helped me to rediscover a large part of my identity and it made me proud to be Vietnamese-American. Traveling with VSA provided me with lifelong friends I never knew I needed and a greater appreciation for Vietnamese culture.
The theme of our 2019 show was One Day. One day, I will realize how far I come and remember when I thought it was impossible. To be able to smile because I’m proud of myslef and the person I’ve fought to become.
As my second artifact, I chose this photo taken during the Fall retreat. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the first night of retreat due to academic commitments. My pass/fail standing in chemistry was dependent upon my performance on the third midterm and there was a very important review session during the first night of Fall Retreat. I was faced with a tough decision of staying back to study, or going to retreat to have fun and form connections with my fellow Mounties. I felt conflicted because I had been looking forward to retreat since I first heard about it. I chose to stay back because school comes before everything for me, but I was able to find transportation with some other Mounties who had to stay back that night; We arrived at Camp Akita early the following morning. We were still able to take part in activities and I still love my experience in this Scholars community. Another positive side: I was able to earn an A on my chemistry midterm. I chose this photo because it represents that I will face difficult choices in life, but compromises can be made and everything works out in the end.
When deciding which college I would ultimately attend, athletics and school spirit was a large component. I grew up watching Ohio State games, so I was ecstatic to be attending football games at The Shoe. I had gone to all the games this year, but Penn State was very special because the experience I gained was unlike any other game. For my second artifact, I chose a photo of my friends and I during the OSU vs Penn State game. Although the game had a rough start, I had a lot of fun with my fellow Mounties. From screaming at the plays, the unbelievable comeback in the fourth quarter, rushing the field, to singing Carmen Ohio, we can all unanimously agree that this was the best game thus far. Although, I got a cold, lost my voice for a full week, and fell down the bleachers, I would do it all over again because it was worth it. Best of all, I got to go through all of this with my fellow Mounties. This is why I chose a photo from the Penn State game as my second artifact.
My culture and ethnic background has always been a part of my life, but it has never been at the forefront. I was born and raised in a predominately white, suburban city with very limited diversity. This has caused me to grow very distant from my Vietnamese background, and in a way, reject it. This is something that I have made a conscious effort to change during my college experience. My older cousins were both heavily involved in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) at their school and it gave them the foundation for many of their lifelong friends. When I came to OSU, I knew that I wanted to get involved in VSA and I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far. For my first artifact, I chose an áo dài, which is a traditional dress representative of Vietnamese culture. Since joining VSA, I have been motivated to speak more Vietnamese when talking to my parents. Through doing this, I already feel more connected to them and my grandparents. The áo dái reminds me of when I was younger and would travel to Vietnam to celebrate the new year. Now, it reminds me of my roots and why I should try to stay connected to them. This is why I chose an áo dài as my first artifact.