Around the World: Vietnam in West Virginia By Huong Nguyen

Huong wearing an Ao dai with her classmate who is wearing the traditional dress of Honduras

It is an honor to be a member of the Global UGRAD family and a member of the Mountaineer family in West Virginia University (WVU). I enjoy a privileged status as a cultural ambassador of Vietnam, Southeast Asia. Having been in the U.S. for a month, I feel like a new horizon has opened in front of my eyes. Every single day, I wake up full of joy. The new day is a gift for me to experience new things, explore my potential, and broaden my knowledge. The first quotation that comes to my mind every morning is “just live life to the fullest.”

On January 19th, my host university organized an event called “Around The World,” which was an opportunity for Vietnamese students, among students from 30 other countries worldwide, to share our small beautiful country with the Mountaineer community at West Virginia University. This was part of Up All Night, an event at WVU from 9:00pm to 2:00am on Friday and Saturday nights. We have many exciting activities such as cultural exchange, skating, and dancing, to relax after a stressful week.

At the beginning, six Vietnamese students set up a booth consisting of many symbols of Vietnam: a Vietnamese woman’s statue in our traditional dress (Ao dai) combined with a Leaf Conical Hat, which represents charming and adroit women; some 3D typical postcards with nice pictures of Vietnam; Vietnamese wallets; and many traditional games such as gambling and Mandarin Square Capturing that we usually play during Tet holiday, the Lunar New Year of Vietnam. We were so delighted that our booth drew many people’s attention. They enjoyed discovering Vietnamese customs, joining our traditional games, and taking many pictures with us. We shared so much fun together.

After displaying the booth, we had a wonderful Ao dai fashion show to the gorgeous melody of “Dang em lua la,” a Vietnamese song which presents the charm and beauty of Vietnamese women. To prepare for the show, we spent some time practicing together. We supported each other in dancing, performed professionally as models, and laughed all the time. The show was captivating with three elegant couples. We received endless applause and compliments.

Huong playing Mandarin Square Capturing with her classmate

Ao dai is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers which reaches to the floor, fit to honor the curves of the body. Ao dai is worn commonly by women. In the north of Vietnam, women usually wear Ao dai for weddings, the Tet holiday, and many formal occasions. In the south, Ao dai is required as uniform, full of color and typical patterns, for female teachers. For high school female students, white Ao dai are usually worn several days every week, depending on the schedule of different schools. These days, the pictures of a male wearing Ao dai are not as popular as in the past, but you can look for wonderful pictures from the APEC (Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit 2017, at the Gala Dinner, where all APEC leaders wore Ao dai made from silk with lotus patterns.

In this event, we also enjoyed some instrumental Middle-Eastern music, danced to some Latin steps together, grabbed some fruit and snacks, and made friends… we were “up all night.” The excited feelings even kept me tossing and turning until early morning. In my dream, I saw my friends calling  me, taking  pictures with me, laughing  and talking endlessly…Just AWESOME! Global UGRAD is priceless for me.

By Huong Nguyen, Vietnam, Global UGRAD 2017-18 at West Virginia University 

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