March Community Service: Curry Senior Center


On Sunday, March 22, 2015, Crystal, Cindy, and I spent our afternoon serving lunch to seniors at the Curry Senior Center, located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.  Upon our arrival, we checked in with Laura, the coordinator of the meal program at the center.  She gave us a quick overview of the program and the lunch service schedule.  The center provides essential social services to low-income seniors which includes healthcare, housing, and meals, to name a few.   There was a good turnout of about a dozen total volunteers that day.  In the kitchen, we met “Vergi”, the head cook, who assigned each of us roles in the food serving line.  She endearingly named Crystal, Cindy, and I as the “Chicken Lady”, “Cabbage Lady”, and “Fruits Lady”, respectively, in regards to the food we were plating.   The color composition of all the different foods on the plate looked very beautiful altogether!  It was a joy to serve the senior citizens who came by that day.  All of the volunteers got to have a taste of the scrumptious plate of food during our break in between the 2 lunch periods.  After the second lunch period ended and plates of second servings were all passed out, we helped bus tables, wash/dry all the kitchenware, and clean-up the kitchen.  As we chatted with Laura afterwards about our wonderful experience there, we learned that Vergi’s niece is a current beauty queen titleholder in the Philippines!  The center has ongoing volunteer opportunities every week in the Dining Room and with Bingo Hosting; for more information, please click here.


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2015 Tet Festival at History Park, San Jose

On February 28, 2015,  the 2015 MVNCI court made our way to the highly anticipated celebration hosted in San Jose, CA — the Tet Festival!  As we stepped onto the grounds of History/Kelley Park, the Tet atmosphere came alive with lunar decorations, individuals dressed in cultural-wear, and music.

We first setup our booth where we planned to hand out red envelopes filled with chocolate coins, toy cars, and tiaras to the children that stopped by, as we waited for the opening ceremony to begin.  Cathy and Mandy were asked to be the MC’s for the opening ceremony, and the collaboration of the two could not have made a better team for such a job!

Cathy and Mandy took away the stage with opening ceremony, and Cindy and I joined later them onstage in the “Chuc Tet” part of the program.  Along with the Miss and Mrs Vietnam USA and Hoa Hau Ao Dai Bac Cali court members, we each sent a New Year wish to the community in attendance at the event.

Throughout the festival, we had many inspiring visitors stop by our booth.  Along with passing out red envelopes, we crowned little girls with tiaras and gave out toy cars to little boys.

After the court and I cleaned up our booth for the day, I had the honor of being one of the judges for the Ao Dai Contest.  It was a great experience to watch each of the contestants showcase the beauty and elegance of their ao dai, as well as listen to their eloquent answers to the questions asked by the MC’s.

On behalf of the court, we would like to congratulate the Vietnamese-American Tet Festival Committee on a successful event!  We thank you for your time and dedication to making this event possible for our community.  For more information about the event, please visit:



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January Community Service pt. II: SF Blanket Project

On Sunday, January 25, 2015, Crystal, Cindy, and I volunteered to help pass out blankets to the homeless in San Francisco.  The project was spearheaded by our very own MVNCI Advisor, Jessica Do, who is committed to completing service projects like this every year.  This year, she started a donation drive and raised enough money to purchase ~150 blankets for the homeless!  This project marks her second year of giving back to the less fortunate; the year prior, she raised money to pass out sleeping bags.  Jessica’s friends Eric, Khoi, Christine, Cong, and Triet also joined in to help out that day!  Upon seeing the gargantuan piles of blankets for the first time, it seemed as though we would have a long day ahead of us.  We helped pack all the blankets into 2 cars and set off on our way to Glide Church, located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.

Glide Church prepares free meals 3 times a day on 364 days of the year and serves up to 2,560 people daily.  We arrived to pass out blankets to those standing in line waiting for lunch to be served.  Passing out all the blankets took less time than I had initially anticipated since they were highly sought after; people were so grateful to receive them.  Completing this project left me with the feeling of only having wished that we had more blankets to pass out since not everyone was able to get one.  We were very glad to have the opportunity to help Jessica carry out her inspiring project, and to personally see how something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to someone who doesn’t have much.  We are definitely looking forward to supporting Jessica’s next project!

Photos c/o Jessica Do
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January Community Service: Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen

On Saturday morning, January 24, 2015, Cindy and I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, located at The Lodge in Morgan Hill.  The Lodge is an apartment community dedicated to helping senior citizens lead independent lives.  It is one of the dining room locations that the Loaves & Fishes organization services.  Their mission is to serve meals to low-income families and seniors across the Santa Clara county.

We arrived on Saturday morning to help out during the breakfast service and were greeted by the two lead cooks, Albert and Ethan, as well as another volunteer, Johnny.  Breakfast is self-service (like buffet style) at the facility since it has been found to be the most efficient way for guests to get food, so most of the volunteer work took place in the kitchen!  We were first tasked with bringing breakfast items and utensils out to set-up in the dining area.  As the guests helped themselves to breakfast, we assisted Albert and Ethan with prepping lunch.  On the lunch menu for later that day was salad and chicken noodle soup.  We helped with washing and chopping romaine lettuce, slicing tomatoes, and shredding and dicing grilled chicken.  For someone like myself who doesn’t cook regularly, I had an enjoyable time exercising my novice knife skills!  As breakfast time was finishing up, we went out in the dining area to help bus tables, push in chairs, and bring used tableware inside to be washed.  It was a fun and eventful morning, and we got to meet some very vibrant people!  For more information about the Loaves & Fishes organization and volunteer opportunities, please click here.


Photos c/o Suzann Muy
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Norcal UVSA Leadership Summit 2014

What a weekend!!!  Crystal, Mandy, and I spent the weekend of November 7-9, 2014 in Merced to attend Norcal UVSA’s 8th Summit Leadership Conference on behalf of MVNCI.  The annual event is hosted at a different NorCal university each year, and students from all Norcal VSA chapters are invited to attend.  This year, it was hosted at UC Merced and the theme was “Purpose, Passion, and Progress”.  Students attend to socialize with other VSA chapters, have the opportunity to listen to inspiring keynote speakers, attend informative workshops/funshops of their choice, and celebrate at the fancy Gala hosted on Saturday evening.  MVNCI was invited to lead a workshop on Interview Tips, a funshop on makeup tips, and a lesson on Vietnamese 101.  And, we were there to recruit for the upcoming pageant season as well!  Crystal was the Programming Co-Director of the event with her roommate Christine, and they graciously let us stay with them that weekend.
“M” for ucMerced!
On Saturday morning, Mandy and I sat in on invited guest speaker Mike Bui’s keynote speech, who also happens to be Crystal’s older brother!  It was inspiring to listen to his story of where he started out and how he reached the level of success he has accomplished now.  It was also then that we learned the theme “Purpose, Passion, and Progress” was coined by none other than him!  Then, it was time to host our first workshop – Interview Tips.  We attempted to give students a basic overview of the interview process and shared specific tips from our own experiences.  Students asked great questions throughout which made me happy that they were actively paying attention!  Afterwards, we took professional head-shots of the students for them to use however they pleased.
After lunch, it was time to host our makeup funshop.  Although none of us claim to be experts in makeup (and we let that be known to the students!), it wasn’t too bad as it is easier to share makeup tips and show pictures rather than to actually demonstrate it ourselves.  We shared all the tips that we learned from working with makeup artists during pageant and watching YouTube tutorials, as well as things that we already knew.  I thought it was great how there were a few guys in attendance that came to learn as well!  (=P)  For our demonstration, we had 10 pairs of lashes to put on girls that volunteered which turned out to be a big hit with the girls.  We only had time to do a demo on 2 girls; however, after the workshop ended, it was quite impressive to see Crystal putting lashes on 8 more girls who were lined up outside. (=D)
Finally, for the Vietnamese 101 workshop, Mandy led the way as she was the most fluent in Vietnamese out of the 3 of us.  Unluckily, the Powerpoint slides that we had prepared the night before was not brought with us; luckily, there were markers and construction paper available for her to do her lesson with!  For our activity, we asked students to choose one word to describe themselves, and to write the Vietnamese translation of their choice word on a piece of construction paper.  At the very end, we all took individual and group pictures with our words.  
The Gala held later that night was super fun!!  We enjoyed the performances given by the students, the food that was served, and especially the dance floor afterwards.  (;])  Sunday, the final day of Summits, arrived almost too quickly as we participated in the final activities held to close out the weekend.  Several students gave heartwarming thank you and farewell speeches.  It was very touching to know that VSA representatives from Washington came all the way to attend!  Mandy and I took this opportunity to reach out to all the girls to consider participating in the upcoming pageant.  To officially end the weekend long event, the UVSA team impressively put together a slideshow of the entire weekend’s activities as a parting gift.  I regretfully never had the opportunity to be apart of VSA during my college years, so I was really grateful for having had this VSA experience!  We would like to thank UVSA for inviting MVNCI to attend Summits!!
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