Programs & Events:
Throughout the year; VACKC organizes varieties of cultural events and various of community services projects to assist the youth, elderly, and low-income individuals.
Culture and the Arts
Tet (new year) in Kansas City
Tet is the most celebrated time of the year in Vietnamese culture. It is rich with tradition and symbolic of the many customs and folklore in the history of Vietnam. We annually have approximately about 1000 people attend the event and the number of attendants increases every year. They experienced the Vietnamese culture through artwork, food and music. Other events included the lion dance, a martial arts demonstration and “lucky money” as “li-xi” given to costume contests for children, the Vietnamese traditional dress “Ao Dai”pageant and a formal banquet. The event concluded with a concert/dance with music performed by top Vietnamese singers from all the community.
History of Tet (Lunar New Year):
Tet is an abbreviation of Tet Nguyen Dan, meaning the first morning of the first day of the lunar New Year. The Tet celebration typically lasted for three days. Before the first day, families visit deceased ancestors’ graves, buy new clothes, clean their homes, pay off debts, and cook three days worth of food. They put out a Tet tree called cay neu (kay neuw), for good luck. At midnight on the eve of Tet, families pray to welcome ancestors’ spirit home. Then in their new clothes, family visit and dine with their nuclear family (first day), extended families and close friends (second day), and other friends and business associates (third day) to wish them good luck and a happy new year (Chuc Mung Nam Moi). Lion dances are performed and firecrackers are lit to scare off the evil spirits. During Tet, everyone becomes one year older. Vietnamese birthday are counted at the beginning of the year, not on the exact day when one was born. Children born during the previous year turn one year old on Tet. Adults give children money in a red enveloped called li-xi to congratulate and wish them luck on being a year older.
Commemoration of the Founding of Vietnam ( Gio To Hung Vuong)
This event was held annually to commemorate our ancestor and founding father of our country, just like George Washington here in the US. Well-respected leaders in the Vietnamese Community were present at the commemoration. The purpose of this celebration is to honor the found fathers of Vietnam, the Hung Vuong Kings. On this traditional holiday, all Vietnamese join in spirit to pay tribute to their ancestors. This commemoration also promotes the restoration of Vietnam’s traditional values. The activities included performing rituals at an ancestral altar and reviving traditional customs, such as beating of the bronze gong and drum, enjoying traditional cakes, singing folk songs and reading poetry.
“Trung Thu”, literally Mid-Autumn, is a popular family holiday. The festival celebrates the harvest and came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. It is a time to show our love for our children. Parents make or buy lanterns for their children so that they can participate in a candlelit lantern procession at dawn. Lanterns represent brightness while the procession symbolizes success in school. Vietnamese parents tell their children fairy tales and serve moon cakes and other special treats under the silvery moon.
Recognition of Freedom and Heritage Flag
During spring of 2004, VACKC went to City Hall of Kansas City petition the mayor and the City of Kansas City recognizes a symbol that represents our freedom and heritage as Vietnamese Americans. Since April of 1975, hundred thousands of Vietnamese have immigrated to the United States and have called Kansas City and the great State of Missouri their home. Since then, we have opened businesses, worked in manufacturing and high tech industries, attended local schools, raised our families, and have been productive citizens in the City of Kansas City. However; because we still remember our heritage and culture, VACKC believed it was important to seek a formal recognition of the symbol of our homeland. This significant symbol is our treasured flag, the yellow and three red stripes. This flag has long represented the history of Vietnam as a symbol of resilience, freedom, and a yearning for democracy. Mayor Kay Barnes and along with City Council person granted VACKC a resolution that recognizes our yellow and three red stripes as our Freedom and Heritage Flag on March 15, 2004.
Black April Commemoration
Annually, the Vietnamese American Community of Greater Kansas City commemorates Black April 30th “The Fall of Saigon”, a symbolic City of former South Vietnam. This day is a memorial day for all South Vietnamese Service men and women, 58 thousands Americans soldiers that served or have lost their lives during the Vietnam War. It was a bittersweet moment for many of thousands of Vietnamese Refugees feeling to the United States to escape the communist regime. While we have called the United States our home, we still remember our fallen comrades and our homeland.
The April 30th, 2005 marked the 30th anniversary of the Black April Day. We had the honor of State Representatives, City Council Alvin Brookes, and General Steven Berkheiser’ present during this event.
Civic and Community Service
This event promoted health care awareness and prevention in the Vietnamese Community. Local health care providers participated and provide answers to questions regarding various health-related issues. There were also designated lectures addressing important issues, like hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. In addition, the forum provided free blood pressure screening and capillary blood glucose monitoring for diabetes.
Habitat for Humanity
These donations effort is an example of VACKC continued efforts to help make our community a better place for everyone to live.
Nature Disaster Relief
Following the tragic tsunami disaster that struck Southeast Asia, our community as reminded of how 30 years ago, when the North Vietnamese Communist invaded the South Vietnam, our people similarly lost our homes to destruction and devastation. Like the victims of the Tsunami, we too lost many loved ones and became a displaced population. We realize how truly lucky we are to be living in the United States; to be living a life of freedom, democratic, and prosperity.
Thus, VACKC began its campaign to raise money to assist with the Tsunami relief efforts. Many local businesses had drop boxes where they collected donations. Through the generous giving of the Vietnamese Americans in Kansas City, our organization was able to make donations to the Heart to Heart and American Red Cross.
VACKC continually works to educate the Vietnamese American about Federal and State political issues and process. We have stressed the importance of voting and strive to educate the community on public policy issues affecting their daily lives as Missourians. For the November 2004 general election, we translated the Voters’ Guide into Vietnamese and many voting documents related so it could be more easily understood by those less proficient in English. In addition, VACKC also organized town-hall meetings for the community to meet with State, City and local candidates.