Titi Mary Tran/ Nguoi Viet English
SANTA ANA, Calif. (NV) – Vietnamese-Americans ranging in age from the late teens to the 60s gathered in Santa Ana recently to discuss how they’ll spend their time and energy on their next big project.
The group included students, engineers, doctors, artists and retirees.
Whether it is to enhance their college applications, fulfill their company duties or to learn about leadership, young Americans are encouraged to volunteer for causes that interest them. According to a survey released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, about 25 percent of Americans take the time to volunteer.
Nguoi Viet reporters recently interviewed volunteers from the Viet Film Fest (formerly the Vietnamese International Film Festival), VietRISE, the Vietnamese Student Association and the Vietnamese Catholic Student Association to shed light on the motivation to volunteer among Vietnamese-American youths and adults in Little Saigon.
“It sounds cliche to say giving back to the community and stuff, but I did it the first time and I felt great about it,” said Vu Mai, 40, a Cypress resident.
A warm feeling isn’t the motivating factor for all volunteers, however.
“I wanted the experience for college; that was the first thing in my mind,” said Lam Le, an 18-year-old student who lives in Santa Ana. I want the volunteer credit for college.”
Others take a more practical approach.
Lisa Ly, 37, an engineer for the Raytheon Company, a major U.S. defense contractor, reflected on her first volunteer experience.
“The biggest kickoff for volunteering was at my work,” she said. “They had a program to develop leaders. So for that, one requirement was that we had to volunteer 100 hours for that first year. So I sought to learn about community, how to give back. That’s what opened up the true meaning of volunteer.”
But some people volunteer just to spend time with friends.
Jacklyn Tran, 17, a student from Garden Grove, said: “I want to be more involved with the Vietnamese community, and to basically do something other than go to school. I decided to volunteer because I was able to go with (a friend). It’s much more fun (that way). It helps me to be more productive.”
And then there’s the opportunity to interact with new people.
“I like it (volunteering) because I got to meet new friends and new people and discover new things. It’s really fun,” said Christie Hanh, an 18-year-old Fountain Valley resident who volunteered for the Tet festival at the Orange County Fairgrounds, along with the Viet Film Fest.
Allyna Nguyen, 27, agreed.
“It’s really fun. And I get to share my experience with my friends, bring more friend here so we know more about the Vietnamese and films,” said the Santa Ana resident, who volunteers for both VCSA and VFF.