The Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) is preparing for its annual mid-autumn festival while trying to recruit new members.
The festival will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15, at UNC Charlotte's Star Quad, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The mid-autumn festival will include mooncake tastings, the lion dance, lanterns and much more. Everyone is allowed to participate.
The lion dance specifically has dancers dressed in costumes or masks to appear as a lion and is said to bring good luck and fortune. It appeared at "Viet Night," an event held in spring 2022, which is held annually and will commence again in spring 2023. All of their events share many important traditions of Vietnamese culture.
"It's a way to get back together to celebrate," Thi Le, the external vice president of the organization, said. "Traditionally, it is celebrated on [Sept.] 10, but we are doing it on [Sept.] 15 because we wanted more time to prepare."
The mid-autumn festival is called Tết Trung Thu. The president of VSA, Kaitlyn Van, describes the festival's historical meaning.
"It's a harvest festival. Vietnam is made up of a lot of farmers. Tết Trung Thu was more popularized among them, and it's the celebration of food," Van said.
According to Le, "It was created for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season."
With 13 members on the editorial board, VSA provides an inclusive environment for the student body.
"Our club is mainly Vietnamese students, but it's not exclusive, and we try to promote diversity, so we tell everyone, 'You don't need to be Vietnamese to join,'" Le said.
The organization has many events and opportunities to learn about Vietnamese practices, eat different traditional foods and learn about certain celebrations.
The organization posted a statement on the story associated with Tết Trung Thu.
"Our best-known tale is about a man named Cuội, who hung on to a magical banyan tree as it floated up to the moon. We say that if you look closely at the full moon, you can see the shadow of a man sitting under a tree. Children parade lanterns in the streets the night of [the] mid-autumn festival to help light the way to earth for Cuội from the moon," said the post on Instagram via @unccvsa.
The VSA was founded in 1989 at UNC Charlotte. According to their mission statement on Instagram, "[The] ultimate goal is to spread awareness of the Vietnamese culture."
The festival is not their first event this year, as the organization also held a boba social for new and interested members. For more information about future events for this organization, it is posted on their Instagram page @unccvsa.