VSA hosts moonlit celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival


Photo courtesy of Vietnamese Student Association

The Vietnamese Student Association’s executive board poses at the Lakefill for its Mid-Autumn Festival celebration.

Erica Schmitt, Assistant Audio Editor

Bright paper lanterns and red streamers decorated the Lakefill on Friday night as students ate traditional Vietnamese food, played games and mingled under the moonlight.

The Vietnamese Student Association hosted its second annual Mid-Autumn Festival, which this year featured more traditions and activities. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest holiday celebrated in many East and Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam. While the festival was officially Sept. 10, VSA wanted to commemorate the holiday with students who could not celebrate with their families. 

“I know a lot of people don’t get a chance to go back home, especially the Vietnamese international students,” VSA Internal Vice President and Weinberg sophomore Cindy Khuc said. “Small events like this create a safe space where they can talk to other students about their customs and their traditions.”

Khuc said some common traditions include eating mooncakes, attending parades and lighting candles.

The association incorporated some of those elements into the festival, selling foods like fried rice, sesame balls and mooncakes from a Vietnamese restaurant in Chicago’s Argyle neighborhood. The club also held a raffle, with prizes including a stuffed animal tiger to honor the Year of the Tiger, candy packages and a mystery gift box.

“We kind of translated (the traditions) to something that was more accessible,” Khuc said. 

Khuc said VSA hopes to continue hosting celebrations in order to build community. 

The event also featured an opportunity to make chalk drawings. Co-Design Chair and Weinberg sophomore Hunter Tran decorated the sidewalk with colorful octopus tentacles. Tran said the association purposely invited students of all backgrounds to join the celebration.

“We’re just sharing what we do,” Tran said. “It helps create some sort of cultural exchange and dialogue between people.”

Many students who were not members of VSA attended, including Weinberg freshman Hannah Zhou.

Zhou said she was excited to eat some of the traditional foods served, like the red bean mooncakes. She said the festival was similar to how she informally celebrates at home.

“It was smaller than I expected it to be, but it’s still pretty well organized, and I love the chalk art,” Zhou said.

Bienen freshman Erin Yu said she liked that the association was showing recognition for the holiday even after it officially occurred.

The celebration was especially significant to Yu because she did not get to celebrate the holiday while it overlapped with Wildcat Welcome.

“It’s good that people are still celebrating it now because some traditions die over time,” Yu said. “But I’m glad that Northwestern is keeping this tradition alive.”

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