Session 1

Saturday, March 27, 2021

12:30 - 1:30 PM EST

Allan Frances is an Alumnus from the Mid-Atlantic Region, coming from Old Dominion University located in Norfolk, VA, with a degree in Criminal Justice. During his time in MAUVSA, he has served as one of the Public Relations Chair, and Internal Vice President. He also dedicated his time towards out-of-region events, such as NEIVSA's VES-6 and VES-7 and NELC-2, and Northwest UVSA's 2020 Summit. Currently in Virginia Beach, VA. but he will be moving up to the DMV area this year. Aside from VSA, he currently works as an Administrative Assistant, a registered USPA powerlifter, and known for his DJ alias "[alpha]king."

How to Approach Social Media in 2021

Presenter: Allan Frances (he, him, his)

Attendees will learn and interact by learning about different steps/aspects on what to consider when posting social media content, as well as learn about the outside parameters within Social Media. Being on either Marketing/PR is more than just posting graphics. It helps to gain more perspective and aspects to look out for when operating. It also gives insight for all of any e-board/cabinet/committee members to know that they all hold an image to upload within social media.

Garrett Grothe started his VSA involvement in 2013 after being accepted to the University of Connecticut and served as UConn VSA Co-President from 2014-2016. Garrett was also instrumental in founding the Vietnamese Empowerment Summit and was selected as the founding Co-Executive Director for VES-1 at the University of Connecticut in 2015. Garrett continued his involvement at the regional level by joining New England IVSA (NEIVSA) as Internal Vice President from 2015-2016. During this time, Garrett completed his enlistment in the Connecticut Air National Guard after deploying to the Middle East in support of Operation Aerial Defense of the Arabian Gulf. Garrett served for six years as an Air Surveillance Technician. Pausing his involvement to complete his Master's Degree in 2016, Garrett earned an MA in International Affairs and Global Policy from the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University In Seoul, South Korea. Returning to the United States in 2019, Garrett started his career at Columbia University as MA Program Coordinator for the MA Program in Economics. Garrett Joined UNAVSA in 2019 and currently serves as Co-Director for the Alumni Relations Committee and founding chairperson for the UConn Asian American Alumni Association.

Graduate School Admissions: Crafting the Perfect Application

Presenter: Garrett Grothe (he, him, his)

Thinking of taking the next step and applying to graduate school? Learn insider tips and strategies on how to ace the application process from a graduate admission consultant, and graduate school administrator from Columbia University. Topics include tips on navigating the complexities of the graduate school application process, leveraging your VSA experience, interview secrets in the zoom age, and insights on graduate-level admissions as it relates to letters of recommendation and drafting effective personal statements. By the end of this workshop, attendees will be equipped with the tools necessary to be a competitive and viable candidate for graduate school. 

Born in Georgia and raised in Northern California, Jenny Nguyen resides in San Jose, CA, home to one of the biggest Little Saigons in the United States. She is involved with SJSU VSA, NorCal UVSA, and UNAVSA having held many different positions and is currently the NorCal UVSA President. Jenny has over 10 years of experience in traditional dancing and has choreographed multiple pieces to perform at various VSA events as well as out in the Vietnamese community. She really hopes to share her love for traditional dancing with everyone.

A Deeper Dive into Traditional Dance

Jenny Nguyen (she, her, hers)

Ever wonder how a traditional dance gets put together? Let’s talk about everything from origin, music choices, musicality, angles, facials, props, you name it and we can discuss it. Let's take a deep dive to learn and discover more than just surface level. No experience or props required.

Randy Nguyen Ta (@randallta) is a writer and actor who has studied at MichaelHoward Studios in NYC and Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts for his BFA in Acting. Randy previously studied at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for one year before deciding to move to NYC at 19. He has worked and performed with theaters in NYC like The Sống Collective, Yangtze Rep Theatre, and Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). Agent: Manager:

Vietnamese in Entertainment

Presenter: Randy Nguyen Ta (he, him, his)

In the wake of increasing demands and conversations for more AAPI representation in media, the Vietnamese community especially has been severely behind in representation of their stories. In this session, we will focus on the negative perpetuation of Vietnamese folks in Miss Saigon and how current Vietnamese artists are working towards changing that narrative. 

Session 2

Saturday, March 27, 2021

4:10 - 5:10 PM EST

Duyen Bui is a lecturer at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, and a research fellow with the US-Vietnam Research Center at the University of Oregon. She recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, in political science. She finds inspiration in the power of people working together to bend the arc towards justice. In this regard, her research examines how the Vietnamese diaspora mobilizes and organizes from a distance to advocate for social issues in Vietnam. Duyen completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, where she re-established the VSA and organized national and international conferences for Vietnamese youth. 

Y Thien Nguyen is a Research Fellow at the Global Studies Institute at the University of Oregon. He was born in Đà Nẳng, Việt Nam and, as a child, emigrated with his family to the United States as refugees through the Humanitarian Operation Program. His family resettled in southern California and he was raised in the Little Saigon District of Orange County. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Vietnamese Catholic organization Hạt Cải, collaborated with the Vietnamese American Coalition at UCI, and was an activist in the Worker Student Alliance. He recently received his PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University. His research focuses on the politics and history of the Republic of Vietnam (1955-1975) and Vietnamese refugee communities.

From Tattered Boats to Thriving Communities

Co-Presenter: Duyen Bui (she, her, hers)

Co-Presenter: Y Thien Nguyen (he, him, his)

Why did we grow up outside of Vietnam? Why do we have Little Saigons in major cities of the US, Australia, and Europe? Our presentation will provide historical context to the issues and movements that manifested in our community. We will learn not only how Vietnamese Americans respond to contemporary challenges facing their lives in the United States, but how they draw on lessons and inspirations from South Vietnam. Learn how groups like VSA were not only a space for friendship and cultural preservation but also for organizing to help improve our community’s social situation. Share experiences about what it has been like to be part of the Vietnamese overseas community and connect the linkages between the past and present.

 Julie Thao is a 4th year undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies and minoring in Public Health. She was born and raised in Sacramento, California where her Hmong refugee parents relocated to after their escape from the Secret War in Laos. She is passionate about racial justice, youth empowerment, educational equity, and advocating for low income, underserved, and under resourced communities. After interning with REACH! (the AAPI Recruitment and Retention Center) her first year in college, she discovered her interest in serving her AAPI community. Committed to uplifting and empowering AAPI voices on the UC Berkeley campus as well as in the larger California, she also served as a program coordinator for REACH!, a Mentor Coordinator for Southeast Asian Student Coalition’s Summer Institute, an Operations and Finance Coordinator for the Hmong Student Association at Berkeley (HSAB), and a member of the AAPI Standing Committee. Currently, she is an Outreach Coordinator for HSAB’s Pursuit of Higher Education conference for Hmong high school students. As a Hmong student she knew the struggle of having to find the right resources and mentors to guide her towards higher education. While she wants to bridge this educational gap that Hmong high school students and other POC members face, she also wants to let them know that this is not the only path. As a Youth Programs Intern for OCA this year, she hopes to create a safe space and strong sense of community for youths to discover their own voices and power. While these are her interests, in her free time, she also enjoys going on hikes, playing tennis, completing Chloe Ting’s workout challenges, and watching Korean, Chinese, and Thai dramas.

Kent Tong is the Associate Manager of Programs at OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates. In this role, Kent coordinates the organization’s youth and college programs, including internships, scholarships, and leadership and advocacy trainings. Kent was born and raised in the Greater New Orleans Area to Vietnamese refugee parents. An alumnus from Loyola University New Orleans, majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Film Studies, Kent dedicated his time outside the classroom to various Vietnamese-interest organizations. It's through his experiences as Executive Director of Camp Delta, President of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations Gulf Coast, and President of the Loyola Asian Student Organization where Kent developed an interest in youth development and programming. Prior to joining OCA, Kent was a 2017 Jubilee Project Fellow, 2014 Disney College Program Cast Member, UNAVSA-13 Leadership Conference Staff Member, UNAVSA Civic Engagement Committee Member, and The 2020 Project Committee Member. In his free time Kent loves watching movies in theatres, at least one or two every weekend; and occasionally writes reviews on his personal blog.

Black Lives Matter: Identifying and Addressing Anti-Black Racism

Co-Presenter: Julie Thao (she, her, hers)

Co-Presenter: Kent Tong (he, him, his)

This past year, the country faced a long-overdue racial reckoning that resulted in a worldwide protest in support of Black lives and against police brutality. For many, understanding the country's history of racial violence, especially against Black people, may be new. This workshop will identify the many ways racism is perpetuated against Black people, and address topics such as White Privilege, Reverse Racism, African American Vernacular English/Black Vernacular English, and more. In understanding the plights of Black Americans, participants will be able to better relate to, and empathize with, Black Americans and why it's important to be an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement. Please note: this workshop is intended to serve as an introduction to the topics of anti-Black racism, specifically individuals who are new/not as knowledgeable about the topic. If you already have a strong understanding of institutional and systemic racism, this may not be a beneficial workshop for you. However, you are still more than welcome to join!

Dr. Kinh T. Vu is an assistant professor of music at Boston University where he teaches music education and performance courses in general music methods, instrumental music, history, and philosophy. Focusing his teaching, learning, and research model on global citizenship and intercultural literacy, Kính’s pedagogy is community-based with partnerships emerging in Boston and around the globe. Current research centers on exploring connections between music education and involuntary or forced human displacement in Sweden, Cambodia, and Kinh’s homeland Viet Nam where he was abandoned at the end of the American War. His co-edited book with André de Quadros, My Body was Left on the Street: Music Education and Displacement, was published by Brill–Sense in 2020. Kinh serves as a Faculty-In-Residence at Boston University’s Kilachand Hall and coordinates the Writers Corridor (in memoriam Eugene O’Neill) in collaboration with Kilachand Honors College and Residence Life. Kinh enjoys travel, exercise, and has a strange obsession with all-things sparkle.

What’s the Buzz? Asian Abuse and the Conundrum of Privilege

Presenter: Dr. Kinh T. Vu (he, him, his)

For those of us attending this conference of the Boston University VSA, I imagine that we experience some degree of privilege in our station as college students, staff, or faculty. While we might be Người Việt in our heritage, I contend that by and large we are physically, intellectually, and emotionally outside the current events which expose the “hidden” racial turmoil affecting Asians and Asian Americans living and studying on US soil. In this session, I will share my experience of racism as an adoptee who grew up in a cesspool of slurs like chink and gook as well as taunts: “you’re just white” and “go home foreigner.” But more importantly, I will speak and listen with you as a way to support each other and our Việt / Asian peoples in courage, unity, and joy.

Mimi Ton is currently a PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Prior to current academics, she received her BA from University of California, Berkeley and MPH from Yale School of Public Health. In addition to her research, she is an advisor for Education Without Barriers, a crisis counselor, participates in local public health efforts and mentors undergraduate BIPOC students.

Self-Care: Protecting You and Your Time

Presenter: Mimi Ton (she, her, hers)

Through shared experiences and group discussions, this workshop will help participants understand their needs in terms of self-care. It should aid in assisting individuals and building their skills in speaking up and protecting their time in terms of professional and academic expectations. Participants will be given the opportunity to evaluate their own strategies, selecting tools that may benefit them, and creating a personal self-care plan

Session 3

Sunday, March 28, 2021

2:10 - 3:10 PM EST

As a member of the VSA community since 2010, April Nguyen is passionate about leveraging her pharmacy & public health background to promote a better future for the community. After graduating from pharmacy school in her home state of California, she is now a Regulatory Affairs Manager in Boston and continues to grow as a VSA major in her role as UNAVSA's Alumni Relations Co-Director. She has previously served as her VSA's IVP, NEIVSA CORR, and UNAVSA CPP Engagement and Selection Director. 

Having received her B.S. in biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2016, Sunny remains a longtime resident of Worcester, Massachusetts. In her spare time, she enjoys watching reruns of classic sitcoms, window shopping on the internet, and giving haircuts to her pet dogs and little brothers.

Life's Too Short to Be Busy

Co-Presenter: April Nguyen (she, her, hers)

Co-Presenter: Sunny Nguyen (she, her, hers)

That's it. That's the whole idea.

Diana Chu is a Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Drama Therapist in San Francisco. Diana provides counseling services for children, individuals, and families. She has developed and led workshops at national conferences on Drama Therapy and Mental Health and Technology. She also hosts a podcast called Waves of Change, which promotes mental health awareness in Asian American communities. She worked at various community mental health settings, including Community Youth Center, Counseling Enriched Educational Program, School-Based Counseling, Family Engagement Programs and Autistic Spectrum Disorder Clinic.

How to Cultivate a Healthy and Productive Space for Our Minds

Presenter: Diana Chu (she, her, hers)

Mental health is important in all areas of our life. It's important that we have a healthy psychological space to call our own, where we can retreat when things get overwhelming and re-energize to take on that project or difficult conversations. Join us for an interactive workshop exploring techniques for cultivating a positive mental space for stress reduction and productivity. Tools will include practical steps to set up for optimal mental health in your workplace or home.

Jimmy Patel-Nguyen is the founder of REFUGENE, a father, and a child of Vietnamese refugees.

After graduating from NC State University, Jimmy started a 10-year marketing career working for brands like Under Armour, Travelocity, and Crocs. During that time, his father suffered a heart attack which motivated Jimmy to relocate closer to his parents and to record meaningful conversations about their lives.

In 2018, Jimmy established REFUGENE—a storytelling platform and cultural apparel brand—with the belief that storytelling will connect future generations to their heritage. Most recently, REFUGENE partnered with UNAVSA to publish a book of stories told by overseas Vietnamese.

Record Family Stories. Why and How.

Presenter: Jimmy Patel-Nguyen (he, him, his)

How many of our parents’ stories have been untold? After my dad survived a heart attack, I started recording conversations with him to ask about his life as a soldier, refugee, father, etc. That decision transformed our relationship. He told me stories I had never heard—stories that connected me to our family history and cultural heritage—stories that I can pass on to future generations.

If you've ever wanted to piece together your parents' stories, then this workshop will give you the structure to have these meaningful conversations. You’ll hear a recorded story, have 1-on-1 discussions, and receive a story kit with 62 conversation-starters to discover/document your family’s stories.

Thu Nguyen serves OCA National as its Director. A graduate from Rice University with degrees in Chemistry and Sociology, Thu found her way into the nonprofit sector through organizing Asian American students on campus and bridging partnerships between student groups and local Houston community organizations. Previously, she freelanced for non-profits and Asian-owned start-ups to do community outreach and marketing.

In her capacity, Thu oversees storytelling, relationships, and operations for OCA. She brings a unique understanding of grassroots organizing and design to her work at the national level. With her spare time, Thu focuses on the intersection of advocacy with small businesses. She works 5-9 in hospitality, cosmetology, and zine-making. You can find her exploring how to spacemake via

How Many Sips of Boba Does It Take to Get to The Bottom of Our Identity?

Presenter: Thu Nguyen (she, her, hers)

Up until recently, Asian Americans have had both similar but vastly different experiences growing up and understanding, if at all, their identiti(es). How are these experiences changing with the growth of global Asian diaspora culture through Asian Twitter and other online platforms? Using Jean Kim’s 5 Stages of Asian American Identity, we’ll explore today’s landscape of identity formation.

Philip Nguyen teaches Asian American Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and is the Academic Coordinator for the Asian Pacific American Theme House Program at UC Berkeley. He is the Producer of ACCENTED: Dialogues in Diaspora presented by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) and the Community Organizing Manager for the Vietnamese American Roundtable, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Jose, California. Philip also serves as the President of the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA) and as the Co-Chair of the Young Vietnamese Americans (YVA) Committee for PIVOT - The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization.

Three Stripes, One People

Presenter: Philip Nguyen (he, him, his)

This workshop will aim to uncover the mystery behind why there are two flags to represent the Vietnamese people and people of Vietnamese descent in the diaspora to elucidate this phenomenon that many 2nd and 3rd generation Vietnamese Americans, the children of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants, may struggle with understanding for themselves, their families, and their communities. Through this workshop, participants will be able to begin the process of individual, familial, and community healing from wounds inherited from the experiences of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors. Providing a critical refugee studies/Asian American Studies lens in approaching storytelling and personal narrative, this workshop provides participants with opportunities and outlets to better contextualize and articulate their own stories. 

Professional Workshop Session

Saturday, March 27, 2021

5:20 - 6:00 PM EST

Theresa Tran graduated from UMass Boston in Spring 2019 and earned her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. Post graduation, Theresa worked for Boston City Councilor, Michelle Wu as her Vietnamese Community Event Specialist. Currently, Theresa works at Brigham and Women's Hospital-- Development Office as their Associate of Operations and Events. She remains active with the Vietnamese community and just served as 2021 Tet in Boston's Executive Director and is on NEIVSA's Alumni Relations Cabinet. She believes that her VSA career has paved the way to her professional career and she is always finding ways to give back to her community. Theresa enjoys training at the gym, listening to music, and is learning how to be a better chef everyday! 

Tiffany Tran is a graduate from the University of Connecticut (UConn) where she earned her B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology and her Master's in Public Administration. She works for the State of Connecticut in their Statewide Human Resources Division as an HR Policy Leadership Associate. Tiffany remains heavily involved with VSA, currently serving on the NEIVSA Board of Directors and is the UNAVSA Treasurer. She owes much of her VSA experiences to helping get to her current career path in HR, policy, and administrative work, and hopes to continue inspiring others to make the most out of their VSA/extracurricular involvements. In her spare time, Tiffany works as a music director at two local churches and loves watching The Bachelor.

Planting for the Future - How Your VSA Career Can Help Your Professional Development

Co-Presenter: Theresa Tran (she, her, hers)

Co-Presenter: Tiffany Tran (she, her, hers)

This workshop explores the impact and power of using outside experiences (extracurriculars, VSA, etc.) to enhance one's self as they look to life beyond college. Whether that be graduate school or finding a new job, a person is not defined by only their academics and internships/work experience. Extracurricular activities provide important opportunities of growth and new skill sets that are just as attractive and can boost your resume even more. After this workshop, it'll be the last time someone tells you VSA is just a social club!