by Jennifer Devany | Co-Director of Community Outreach | Any mention of camps in relation with Vietnamese would generally conjure up images of the re-education camp in Vietnam back in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon. No. This is not the case here. On Thursday, July 23rd through Saturday July 25th, Against The Grain Productions’ board members and ambassadors Tammy Nguyen Kee, George Lee, Tien Truong, Jennifer Devany, Nikki Duong Koenig, Carol Nguyen and Hue Dao Miner packed their bags and flew to the Vietnamese Heritage Camp in Denver, Colorado to teach and present Vietnamese dances to students as well as prepare and cook banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes) for the parents.
The ATG coordinators taught kids ranging from pre-k to 5th grade traditional Vietnamese dance routines utilizing scarves, a conical hat called “non la” and vibrant homemade yellow and red flowers. As for the older teens, ATG coordinators presented them tasty and delectable Vietnamese dishes through an ATG exclusive game we nicknamed “VINGO.” VINGO was a game the members of ATG created for the camp which pairs pictures of Vietnamese dishes in a Bingo game format, hence its name “Vingo” (Vietnamese bingo).
On our final day, a Vietnamese gala was held in the evening of Saturday, July 25th. Performances of the dances that were taught to the students were showcased and everyone dressed in traditional Vietnamese attire. The sight of women and girls of all ages wearing their beautiful and colorful “ao dai,” a traditional Vietnamese dress, truly brought forth the beauty and elegance of the Vietnamese culture.
This experience was beyond humbling. It was quite eye opening to think that a majority of the students attending were at one point orphans. You can’t help but embrace and learn more about the culture, creating instant friendships and love for one another that this camp creates.
Photos courtesy of Nikki Duong Koenig. For the complete album, please visit our FB page.