Sheila Tran

"Cultural Preservation in the Vietnamese-American Diaspora: The Tradition of Vietnamese Culture Night" aims to uncover the origin story of Vietnamese Culture Night (VCN), a 40-year-old performing arts show held by collegiate Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) clubs all across Northern America.

The project was borne out of the realization that although VCN has such a long-standing history and important role in Vietnamese-American culture — it has existed since the very conception of Vietnamese-American identity in the 1960s/70s — there has been no academic or scholarly research performed on its history. No one knows exactly how this tradition started, even though the person or group of people who started the very first VCN are most likely still alive. I believe that their stories deserve to be documented before it's too late, and that their experiences will ultimately tell a greater story about the Vietnamese-American diaspora.

The main goal of this project is to discover and document the history of Vietnamese Culture Night, and not only to highlight its impact on Vietnamese-American community and identity, but also answer the question of what it means to be Vietnamese-American today. The ultimate goal is to locate the person or group or people who started the very first VCN, but if not, to trace back its history as far as possible. My research will culminate in a long-form journalistic piece for publication in an Asian-American interest publication.