A Dragonfly In Canberra

“…One day I’ll touch your soil, one day I’ll finally know your soul, one day I’ll come to you, to say hello Vietnam…”, – Quynh Anh Pham, 2008, ‘Hello Vietnam’. A song performed at Vietfest 2014.

Kinh chao (Hello),

On the 10th of October, 2014, the Vietnamese Students Association (VSA) collaborated with the ACT Vietnamese Overseas Students Association (ACTVOSA) for the third year running to bring the unique culture of Vietnam to Canberra. This event, VietFest 2014, held at the Australian National University (ANU) was open not only to university students but all who were keen to venture into the depths of Vietnam for one truly memorable night. Initiated in 2012, the festival was designed to commemorate the Vietnamese community and tradition, annually growing bigger, better and greater, with 2014 hosting the largest number of participants in its history. 

For the Vietnamese community at ANU and Canberra as a whole, 2014 has been a year of change. Vietfest 2014 reflected this mentality introducing to its audience a modern and more dynamic Vietnam. A nation that is thriving and flourishing, a nation that in its growth has not forgotten its heritage but rather manages to mix tradition into modern society, a nation that in its new found developments is still truly capable of creating an irresistible historic charm like no other. This aura brought from the rice paddies of villages, the imperial grandeur of royal tombs and bustling feet of crowded markets breathed life into the atmosphere of the festival. The ‘dragonfly’, the symbol of VietFest 2014 embodies ‘tradition, adaptability and joy’, an accurate metaphor for the ever-growing Vietnam.

From the moment you walked down the stairs from the main walkway into union court all five senses were bombarded with authentic Vietnamese experiences. Wonderful dances and musical performances guided the viewers minds to a land occupying the south- east of Asia, whilst hungry mouths and growling stomachs were satisfied by tasty cuisines from through out the land including; Banh Mi (Saigon pork roll), Goi Cuon (Rice paper roll) and Che Dau Xanh (Green Bean Dessert Soup).  For those who ventured into the ‘Vietnam Corner’, their artistic senses were eagerly greeted by an eclectic range of Vietnamese art, crafts and photos with even self- decorated dragonflies and traditional toys available as memorable souvenirs. 

“Great food with great people!”, exclaimed the 2015 ANUSA President, Ben Gill, “My friends and I really enjoyed it!”

Improving from last years’ layout, the event was designed to take full advantage of the available space thus transforming Union Court into an open-air fete whilst still maintaining a cosy atmosphere. With such a sensational and homely ambience, the festival was estimated to have welcomed over nearly 1000 people. Among these, the festival was honoured to have welcomed the Ambassador of Vietnam, H.E. Luong Thnah Nghi and his wife, Professor Baker as well as other notable members of the ANU community.

PARSA President, Benjamin Niles sent his congratulations to the committee on such an amazing event. “It was such a great night at VietFest 2014. Kudos to the committee. Congratulations!”

On behalf of the committee, VSA would like to express its deep gratitude towards all of its sponsors, performers and attendees as well as the gracious members and friends who helped make the event such an outstanding success. Special thanks goes to the committee members responsible for coordinating, organising and planning the event including; the two Presidents Ms Minh Thu Pham Tran (VSA) and Mr Dang Vuong Anh (ACTVOSA), Vice-President Mr Vo Thien Tam (VSA), Treasurer Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen (VSA) leading the entire event as well as the VSA Executive Committee Mr Ngo Viet Nguyen (Secretary), Mr Leo Nguyen (Director of Liaison), Ms Nina Hoang (Director of Events), the ACTVOSA Executive Committee Ms Nguyen Thi Lan Anh (Treasurer), Ms Bui Thu Hoai (Director of Liaison) and the entire VSA Committee.

Overall, the festival was an outstanding success, the delicious Vietnamese food and the splendid performances truly amalgamated to bring not a just a taste, but a whole course of Vietnam to Canberra. For moments, all participants could say, they really were experiencing there own venture into Vietnam; starting from the south in Ho Chi Minh, through the middle in Hue and into the north, Hanoi. What a marvellous and incredible night it was. Yet another year proving why the Vietnamese Cultural Festival is one of the best and most looked forward to events in the university calendar. 

Cam on (Thank you). 

Photography by NGUYEN THIEN KIEN.