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Connecting Cultures Through Song

By Quedus Babalola
Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

What started as a honors thesis project will continue as a live performance. During the fall 2017 semester, Veronica Nguyen, a senior vocal performance major, showcased part of her Vietnamese culture to members of the department of music. She sang traditional Vietnamese songs and taught her audience history behind the country’s music and culture. Nguyen performed on Nov. 21, 2017 in the Great Hall for 36 attendees. After Nguyen’s performance, Dr. Jennifer Miceli, chair of the department of music, asked Nguyen to perform again for a larger audience.

Photo by Zack St. John
Veronica Nguyen, a senior vocal performance major.

Nguyen used her thesis project as an opportunity to explore a side of her heritage that she knew little about; she is half Vietnamese and half Caucasian. Although her father and his family are Vietnamese, she decided on her own to learn the language and the music. “Originally, I just wanted to write about the music, learn it and perform it, but during my research I realized that there were only a handful of books in our own library here at Post about Vietnam that wasn’t focused on the Vietnam war,” Nguyen said.

Despite the lack of resources on campus, Nguyen continued to conduct research online, working with music professor Stephanie Watt. Realizing that the lack of resources in the library could be linked to the lack of knowledge on Vietnam by Americans, Nguyen decided to pursue a new goal. “[I want to] open up American minds to Vietnamese people and their culture so that Americans could know Vietnam beyond the scope of the Vietnam War,” she said.

Nguyen believes she has accomplished that goal. “I thought I should go [to the performance] being that I’ve never learned about Vietnam outside of the war, and I completely loved it,” Joseph Quin, a junior English major, said. He attended Nguyen’s fall performance. “She has such a pure and beautiful voice that made you want to listen, and overall it was just a peaceful lecture, it really made me wish I could visit Vietnam one day,” Quin said.

“I think that my message got across, and people walked away with a new understanding of Vietnam, after my fall thesis performance.” Nguyen said. Nguyen has already started to apply for graduate school for vocal performance, and has auditions lined up during the month of February. She is looking to continue on the performance track and hopes to one day have a career as an opera singer.

Nguyen will perform in the Hillwood Recital hall on Monday, Feb. 12 at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free and all students are welcome to attend. Students in the honors college can earn one merit credit by attending.

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