The Vietnamese Interacting as One (VIA-1) Conference is an ongoing dialogue on leadership and culture that serves as a vehicle to propel individuals to reach new horizons. VIA-1 opens up opportunities for both young Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans, as well as those who have a connection with the Vietnamese culture to empower, excel, and lead. Over the past century, many of our ancestors have migrated from Vietnam to the United States, facing challenges in the new places they had to call “home.” Every individual narrative contributes to a collective history that shows courage and resilience through many struggles and heartbreak. Now, in the year 2016, we as a community are still facing many of the same issues on both individual and societal levels. Now, more than ever, our voices are needed to create the change that we have always imagined and hoped for in order for us to succeed.
Asian-Americans are often referred to as the “silent minority,” and it is our responsibility to shift that perspective and dismantle this stereotype. In 2016, we are still combating racism and xenophobia from our society while trying to dissolve the classism, ableism, colorism, sexism, and many other prejudices that still exist and run rampant in our community. The 15th Annual VIA-1 Conference theme, Cùng Nhau Lên Tiếng: Together, Let’s Raise Our Voices, encourages our attendees to use their voices to challenge harmful ingrained cultural and societal norms, spread awareness of issues that are destroying our communities, and to fight for a more equitable and just society because we become the spaces we create. From deconstructing the Model Minority Myth, to exercising the privilege to vote, to protesting for justice for our people and other communities of color, raise your voice and use your power proudly. Our collective survival and progress depend on it.
Every year, the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of the Midwest (UVSA-Midwest) hosts the Vietnamese Interacting as One (VIA-1) Conference in a selected state within the region. For the upcoming Spring, the University of Minnesota has been given the opportunity to be the site of this upcoming conference, which will take place from March 17-19, 2017. As UVSA-Midwest’s largest event, VIA-1 brings together hundreds of individuals from VSA communities not only from the Midwest region, but also from other areas of the country. This conference aims to develop and strengthen leadership skills of young professionals through workshops and activities, but also encourages them to inspire others and make great accomplishments by utilizing the knowledge and skills obtained over the weekend.