No, really, it rained during much of the weekend at the Northwest Region annual leadership summit. It took place on the weekend of June 22-24 with the theme “Reflecting on the Links to Inspire the Future”. These gatherings have occurred each year since 2006 and have taken place in all three states that constitute the region: Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Upwards of 80-some enthusiastic Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) leaders representing six universities descended upon the Portland Hilton & Executive Tower as strangers and left as a big closer-knit family.
As is common for VSA conferences, attendees were were split up into families to create more intimate bonds within the larger group. I was placed into group 7, which chose to go by “Princess Nathan”. While the group name might not be straight forward, our team motto and signature move exuded grace only royalty can achieve. (while waving one’s hand like a pageant queen) “Wrist, elbow, wrist, wrist!” Organizers put together a series of family competitions the first night to break the ice including trivia, puzzle challenges, and even golf ball stacking. I volunteered for the food competitions in which I had to try to put a cookie in my mouth that I had to move from my forehead. Losing the first challenge, I wanted to redeem myself by being the first to eat 6 saltine crackers. Failure was my hallmark that night, but I sure did enjoy the laughs and support from an awesome summit family!
To fuel the energy and competition, UNAVSA NW Region CoRR Representatives David Cho and Warren Mui offered families “pie points” for each win. Four points allowed a team to pie their CoRR Reps on the last day of the conference. Two individuals also won this right during the Just Dance and 13 card game tournaments. The aftermath of the pieing is below and the picture I chose to post does not remotely demonstrate who good sports David and Warren are!
Workshops and ice breakers provided opportunities to grow together while keynote speeches by two local Northwest role models, Christine Nguyen and Long Trinh, provided the inspiration. To offer a break from skills building, teams organized skits centering around Vietnamese legends and history during the last evening. Unfortunately, I missed all of the laughs and cultural learning because of extremely slow service at a restaurant I went to for dinner. Hearing all the rave reviews about the session made me even more anxious that I had missed it!
While there was a strong showing from both Oregon and Washington organizations, groups in Idaho were absent. I’m sure everyone would have loved to meet some warm personalities from Idaho. If you’re from Idaho and you’re reading this, get connected at the NW Website!
Favorite Memory: Experiencing Christine Nguyen’s keynote speech. It was very thoughtful and grounded and she even wrote a poem about breaking out of one’s comfort zone. I enjoyed it so much I typed out a transcript of it below!
I sit inside this comfort zone
I’ve made my little bubble.
I do not care that I’m alone
For no one gives me trouble.
I’d like to think I’m happy here
With nothing that can scare me.
In my zone I have no fear,
So don’t you even dare me!
But if by I chance I wandered out
And ventured just a hair.
Would I start to have a doubt?
Would people like me there?
I knew I had to take a chance
And put on my big girl shoes.
I thought “Alright, let’s do this dance.
What have I got to lose?”
So I clenched my jaw and I took a leap
And I began to bawl.
Because I found myself knee-deep
In the beauty of it all.
And here’s my message to you all
You had better grab a pen.
Each step no matter big or small deserves a perfect 10.
So don’t cheat yourself don’t even try.
You have so much to give.
So set your limits way up high
And that’s how we all should live.
Thank you for welcoming me with wide open arms and hearts Northwest Region! The hospitality you showed and the caliber of individuals I met rival any region in UNAVSA. Use those bonds and skills you’ve learned to strengthen your organizations in the following year and I can’t wait to see what you’ll all be able to achieve. Special shout out to the Northwest CoRR Representatives David Cho and Warren Mui who served as the Summit’s Executive Directors. You both did an awesome job!
To learn more about the Northwest region, visit their website at http://www.unavsanorthwest.com/.