Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California

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Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California parading at a Tet parade 2009

The Union of the Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California (Vietnamese:Tổng Hội Sinh Viên Việt Nam Nam Cali) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan, community-based and youth-oriented organization designed to provide a united voice for Vietnamese American youth. While based in Little Saigon, organization is a cumulative organization of Vietnamese Student Associations at various Southern California universities and colleges. Its programs include the promotion and retention of Vietnamese language and culture among the Vietnamese youth community, especially through the inter-school support of the Vietnamese Culture Shows, fostering social networking among the different VSAs and participation in the philanthropic work of the Vietnamese community.

UVSA, as it's commonly referred to, is most famous for organizing the largest Vietnamese Tết Festival in the United States each year.

UVSA of Southern California currently represents 14 collegiate Vietnamese Student Associations/Union and the Vietnamese American High School Alliance, which consists of high school VSAs.[1]


UVSA was founded in 1982 as a means for youth to organize socially and politically within the community. Committed to cultural awareness, educating peers, and community service, UVSA is composed of volunteers including alumni, young professionals, educators, and college and high school students.[2]

Mission Statement[edit]

Our mission is to bring together Vietnamese American youth including students from different colleges and high schools throughout Southern California to build unity, to serve our community, and to advocate for social justice issues that affect our community domestically and in Vietnam.

We represent the diverse and dynamic Vietnamese youth population by encouraging interaction, participation, and activism in the community. We promote awareness of the Vietnamese culture, language, and history. Through leadership and service, we strive to advance the Vietnamese community in areas of social, educational, cultural, and civic participation.

Organization Structure[edit]

UVSA as an organization is typically categorized into three sections: Executive Board, Inter-Collegiate Council, and Staff.

Executive Board[edit]

There are typically five executive board members who address the concerns of its members as well as the community. The five positions are President, External Vice,Internal Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The role of the Executive Board operates with appointed staff who fill the Director and Coordinators roles, whom each operate their own staff or project. Such projects include Project LEAD and Tet Festival.

Current Executive Board[edit]

The following are the current Executive Board members of UVSA.

President/Internal Vice President - Theodore Pascual (2015-2017)

Secretary - Julie T. Nguyen (2015-2017)

Treasurer - Tommy Nguyen (2015-2017)

Inter-Collegiate Council[edit]

The ICC is responsible for the planning of inter-collegiate activities and providing member schools with opportunities to network with students from other campuses.[3]

Members of the Union (year founded)[edit]

VSA - California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

VSA - California State University, Fullerton

VSA - California State University, Long Beach (1968)

VSA - California State University, Los Angeles (1976)

VSA - California State University, San Bernardino

VSA - California State University, Northridge

VSA - Golden West College

VSA - Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC)

VSA - University of California, Irvine (1979)

VSU - University of California, Los Angeles (1977)

VSA - University of California, Riverside

VSA - University of California, San Diego (1976)

VSA - University of California, Santa Barbara

VSA - University of Southern California


Staff is shortened to refer to anyone involved in UVSA who is a director, coordinator, team lead, or member of a respective project. Even though UVSA gains most recognition and public notice because of UVSA Tet Festival, the festival itself is only one project underneath UVSA.

Project LEAD[edit]

Project LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) is one of many UVSA projects programs. Project LEAD was founded as part of UVSA in 1990 as a general Vietnamese summer culture camp, Trại Hè Về Với Non Sông brought together youth from across Southern California to enjoy a weekend of fun and excitement. As of today, Project LEAD houses multiple project programs, such as The UVSA/VAHSA Camp, Anh Chi Em, and Summit.

Project LEAD Programs[edit]


This camp focuses on the importance of community cohesion and unity; provides an opportunity for students to network with each other and establish skills that reinforce mutual collaboration; and instills an appreciation for the Vietnamese American identity, cultural heritage and a sense of belonging.

In 2001, these leaders transitioned away from an open camp to UVSA Camp which specifically targeted collegiate VSA leaders. In 2003, UVSA Mike Vu and Vu Dinh wanted to take what they had been learning at prior UVSA Camps and expand on camp programming to give back to our younger brothers and sisters in high school. They founded Project LEAD which would be the umbrella project to UVSA Camp and then newly introduced VAHSA Camp.[4]

Anh Chi Em (ACE)[edit]

The Anh Chi Em (ACE) is a mentorship program that was established in 2010 to provide High School students guidance and support as well as having a role model in their life. We also encourage higher education and development in leadership, social, and intellectual skills.

Through this "little brother/sister" program, the intention was to provide guidance and sanctuary for the future leaders in our community and other communities as well. The program aims to continue to progress each year and help create a project that could potentially grow into a community staple.[5]


Held on September 24, 2016 at California State University, Fullerton. UVSA Summit is a one-day event to develop technical and professional skills specific to leadership officer positions. With this year's theme, "Pride and Legacy," the aim was to inspire officers within UVSA to be proud of their dedication and commitment to their respective communities and leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Other Project Programs[edit]

Vietnamese Culture Night Initiative[edit]

Formed by various Vietnamese Culture Night director who are part alumni of various member schools, the purpose of the program was steadily push and deal with the various Vietnamese culture night showcases with in Southern California, to insure that they produce a quality performance without the lost of heritage and culture.

Project U[edit]

Formed originally as means to showcase UVSA members dance talent, Project U was revived in 2016 to be a modern dance team.

Collective Philanthropy Project[edit]

Alongside with multiple regions and UNAVSA, UVSA has assisted since 2005 helping fund raise in the UNAVSA Collective Philanthropy Project.[6]

Tet Festival[edit]

UVSA's Tet Festival in Little Saigon, Orange County, California 2006

UVSA's Tet Festival is organized each year to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. With as many as 100,000 attendees joining this 3-day celebration, it is the largest Vietnamese New Year festival outside of Vietnam. The festival usually includes many cultural booths, carnival rides, a replica of a Vietnamese village and three days of entertainment programs ranging from famous Vietnamese celebrities, martial arts performances to pageant shows and contests. Throughout the years, the festival has taken place in various cities. From the year 2000 to 2013, the festival had resided in Garden Grove Park in the city of Garden Grove, CA . In 2014, the festival moved to its new home at the OC Fair & Event Center in the city of Costa Mesa, CA.

Marked as one of the TOP 42 activities to do in the Orange County.[7]

Miss Vietnam of Southern California[edit]

As part of the UVSA Tet Festival, the female beauty pageant, known as Miss Vietnam of Southern California (MVSC) is also hosted and held at UVSA Tet Festival. The current winner, or Queen, is Ashley Hoang [8]

Non Song[edit]

Socal UVSA produces a free annual Tet magazine called Non Sông. Electronic versions of this student-run magazine are made available on the organization's website, while hard copies are passed out for free at the Tet Festival.

Creation of UNAVSA[edit]

During the Third International Vietnamese Youth Conference in 2003 in San Diego, there were initial talks for creating a network of Vietnamese Student Associations in North America modeled after the Federal Vietnamese Students Association of Australia. Through a collaboration of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern Californiaalong with the New England Intercollegiate Vietnamese Student Association, the first North American Vietnamese Student Associations (NAVSA) conference was held in the Summer of 2004 in Boston, and with that NAVSA was born. Only with the second conference in 2005 in Chicago, was the name of NAVSA changed to The Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA) to better reflect that nature of this organization as a union.

Public Stances[edit]

As UVSA is a 501(c)(3) organization, it can not have any political affiliation. However, certain stances and statements can be addressed.

California Resolution SCR 89[edit]

This measure would designate the Beach Boulevard Interchange on
State Highway Route 22 in the County of Orange as the Nguyen Ngoc Phu
Human Rights Memorial Interchange. The measure would request the
Department of Transportation to determine the cost of appropriate
signs showing this designation and, upon receiving donations from
nonstate sources covering that cost, to erect those signs.[9]

Nguyen Ngoc Phu[edit]

In 2001, Nguyen Ngoc Phu visited Vietnam and witnessed the poverty challenging the Vietnamese people. Through his experience, Phu committed himself to helping the Vietnamese people by becoming involved and leading student organizations. Nguyen Ngoc Phu organized a two-day hunger strike to protest human rights and religious freedom violations in Vietnam in 2002. Among his work within the community, Phu was UVSA External Vice President and chaired the Tet Festival in Garden Grove, California in 2005, with 50 organizations and hundreds of students participating in an event that gathered tens of thousands of people worldwide. In addition, he also reached out to young Vietnamese Americans by hosting a weekly radio program entitled “Tieng Noi Sinh Vien” (Student Voice) on Sai Gon Radio Hai Ngoai (Saigon Radio Overseas).

Nguyen Ngoc Phu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) on May 29, 2005. About one week later, on June 7, 2005, Nguyen Ngoc Phu received an acceptance letter into UCLA Medical School program. In addition, the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag Resolution in Orange County recognizing Yellow Flag with Three Red Stripes as a symbol of the Vietnamese community passed that very same day. Phu was instrumental in the drafting and passing of this resolution by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. On that very same day, Nguyen Ngoc Phu’s life ended unexpectedly from a heart failure, at the young age of 21.[10]

United Against Human Trafficking[edit]

As student organizations and volunteers make up the membership of UVSA, fundraisers are all encouraged but also restricted. In 2012, as some of the beneficiaries and donation projects worked under UVSA dealt with the prevention of human trafficking in Vietnam, UVSA as well as it constituents in solidarity enacted that all date auction type fundraisers are to be forbidden.


Each year, UVSA allocates a portion of the UVSA Tet Festival net profits to the Tet Community Assistance Fund. The festival would not be possible without the support of the community and as such, UVSA wishes to ensure the continued growth and support of the community by offering grants to organizations across Southern California. UVSA carefully reviews over one hundred proposals each year from Southern California non-profit organizations that address the needs of the community. Grants are awarded up to $5,000. Over the past 14 years, UVSA has awarded over $1.25 million to community organizations.[11]

Amounts allocated for Grants[edit]

2015 - UVSA staff voted to allocate half of the net profit, $93,404.98, to the Tet Community Assistance Fund.[12]

2016 - Of the $81,295.29 in profit, UVSA staff allocated $20,000 to be awarded as grants for the 2016 year.[13]


2009 - The Golden Wave Award - Little Saigon Radio and Viet Tide Magazine[14]

2012 - Community Impact Award - State Senator Lou Correa and the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA).[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tet Festival". UVSA. 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  2. ^ "About". UVSA. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  3. ^ "Inter-Collegiate Council". UVSA. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  4. ^ "About". VAHSA & UVSA Camp 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  5. ^ "Anh Chi Em Mentorship". UVSA. 2010-11-25. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  6. ^ "UNAVSA CPP Regional Contributors". 
  7. ^ Wener, Ben (2015-09-04). "The OC Bucket List: 42 Things to Do Before You Die". thrillist. Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  8. ^ CDTN Seraphim (2016-02-15), Pageant: Ashley Hoang - Miss Vietnam of Southern California 2016, retrieved 2016-10-26 
  9. ^ "BILL NUMBER: SCR 89 - CHAPTERED". www.lhc.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0051-0100/scr_89_bill_20100804_chaptered.html. MARCH 15, 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Nguyễn Ngọc Phú Memorial Fund". UVSA. 2010-06-30. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  11. ^ WANG, AMY. "Nonprofit organizations can apply for Tet Festival assistance funds". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  12. ^ "2015 UVSA Tet Festival Community Assistance Fund". UVSA. 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  13. ^ "2016 UVSA Tet Festival Community Assistance Fund". UVSA. 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  14. ^ "UVSA National Leadership Award" (PDF). 
  15. ^ "OCAPICA". OCAPICA. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 

External links[edit]