By Avery Balmain | crew clerk
With red paper lanterns, twinkling lights, and bunnies, the Vietnamese Student Association will transform the Waco Convention Center, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Saturday, into its 30th annual Autumn Festival.
Plano Jr. and VSA President Madeleine Doe said the festival is open to all Baylor students.
“We want to expand on that and share that cultural knowledge, the fact that there is a cultural festival going on and that it is welcomed by everyone,” Doe said.
The Autumn Moon Festival usually takes place in the Barfield Drawing Room, but due to scheduling conflicts, VSA was unable to secure the space. Since there were no other large enough spaces on campus, they chose the Waco Convention Center.
“We wanted to devise a solution where we could have the same number of people, but also be close to Baylor,” Doe said. “So we can still have the best of both worlds that we’d get at Barfield.”
Due to the upgrade in venue and caterers, VSA charges an entry fee. To get the early ticket price, students must fill in this attendance form from VSA, which will drive the user to Venmo. If students purchase a ticket before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, they will only have to pay $5. If they miss the deadline, they can pay $8 at the door.
At the festival, there will be eight dance performances from different groups across the campus, traditional Vietnamese food, a fashion show, and a photo booth.
Modesto, Calif., young Tiffany Low is VSA’s internal vice president and chair of the festival’s Fashion Show and Decor Committee. She said the fashion show is one of the smaller parts of the festival but it showcases their culture.
VSA members will walk down the runway in traditional Vietnamese dress, the ào dài. This dress can be worn on many different occasions, some members will have their own áo dài’ and others will wear the dress donated by the member’s aunt.
“The goal is to showcase more of our traditional clothing, and more of our culture in another way, rather than food and dance,” said Katrina Nguyen, a sophomore in Houston who is a member of the Modeling and Modeling Committee.
Le’s Kitchen and Cha Community will serve food for the festival. They will serve fried rice, dumplings and bubble tea. Outside of restaurants, VSA will also serve moon cakes.
Moon cakes are a basic or delicious dessert for this festival, filled with bean paste and stamped with moon and moon symbols. This dessert will be distributed to the guests at the event.
Do said that VSA usually reaches out to groups in the Asian Student Alliance, but they have decided to branch out into other groups such as the Urban Dance Society to participate in their festival.
Houston chief instructor Mahnoush Heshmat, a dancer with the Urban Dance Association, said their group has been working on a hip-hop routine for the past four weeks.
“I’ve never sung at VSA before, but I know it’s a big event,” Heshmat said. “I know a lot of people will be attending, so I’m really excited to be on stage and performing.”
VSA’s dance team will also perform a three-part routine at the festival.
Garland’s senior Jacob Lewanage will also take his place once again on stage as one of the event’s VSA chiefs. Liwanag’s mission is to welcome guests and present various performance groups.
“It’s nerve-wracking when you get up there, but it’s really exciting,” Liwanaj said. “Because once you get there, you get the adrenaline, and you make the audience roar.”
Nguyen said the Autumn Moon Festival is a celebration of their culture to share with others, as she finds herself in her own bubble within the VSA.
“I think it is important to be able to realize that you are not only within your own people,” Nguyen said. “There are many other diverse groups on campus, and this event is meant to help those who are connected to us, even if you are not Vietnamese or Asian.”
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