Mississippi State University’s Vietnamese Student Association is a diverse community of students with a passion for giving back. One of the main ways the VSA accomplishes this goal is through their annual date auction.
MSU’s VSA will join nine other schools at Tulane University to participate in the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations Gulf Coast annual date auction on Nov. 17.
The date auction is a fun, entertaining event bringing VSAs from across the South together to raise money for a different charity each year. However, dates are not actually bought at these events. Instead, VSAs raise money before hand and, in turn, perform at a regional event with other VSA’s in honor of those who donated. The term "date auction" is used to garner attention and provide fun promotional opportunities for each VSA.
For the date auction, each VSA prepares a group dance in addition to selecting several members to perform more individualized acts and raise money prior to the event.
Austin Luong, an MSU freshman and individual event performer, said the event is a time for all the members to get excited for each other and the fundraising they are doing.
"I think (the date auction) is just for everyone to get hyped for each other and get excited for the fact that we’ve raised money for the charity," Luong said.
Luong and fellow freshman representative Amy Pham will perform a piano duet.
Every year, the date auction has a theme each VSA incorporates into their acts. This year’s theme is time travel, and each school is assigned a different decade.
Darrell Sparks, the advisor of the MSU VSA, said the date auction has been a successful fundraiser in the past, raising over $18,000 last year alone.
This year, proceeds from the event will go toward Children of Vietnam, an organization committed to "building bright futures" for Vietnamese youth.
Sparks said Children of Vietnam accomplishes their mission through building schools and providing basic amenities the children do not have access to.
"Vietnam is a very impoverished country," Sparks said. "The idea is to help build schools for children there, provide better education opportunities for them, and also to help provide things like clean drinking water, stuff that many times we take for granted here."
Ally Langlinais, an MSU sophomore involved in the VSA, said raising money for the Children of Vietnam resonates with the members of the group because of their shared background and origin. However, they want every ethnic background to be involved in their organization and in raising money to help impoverished children worldwide.
"With the club being a primarily Vietnamese organization, we all have similar backgrounds, but we don’t just capitalize on that. We welcome every race into our club to show them about our struggles and to teach them the history we went through," Langlinais said. "And I feel as though if MSU has the saying of being a family, they need to understand each background of each person in said family."
Langlinais has a personal connection to this cause, as she understands the urgency and importance of helping the children of Vietnam because of what her mom experienced.
"My mom came over on the boat when she was barely a teenager to escape the life of poverty in Vietnam... She worked for everything she got," Langlinais said. "We are raising this money to help the kids in Vietnam who never got the opportunity to come to America like my mom did."
Langlinais is excited to see all the VSAs come together and have fun for a purpose which resonates with each member.
"It’s always a good time to just be able to see everyone come together for a cause so near and dear to everyone involved," Langlinais said. "Especially with school always being so hectic and everyone being so busy. It’s also fun to watch each school perform the dances they’ve spent two to three months working on."
Regardless of involvement in the VSA, any MSU student is welcome to donate to the date auction. Donations can be made to VSA date auction freshman representatives Luong and Langlinais at https://www.gofundme.com/d3vrq-children-of-vietnam.