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Vietnamese Seniors and Family Celebrate

2004 Vietnamese Tet Lunar New Year

by Jackie Bong-Wright

To celebrate the Year of the Monkey, the Vietnamese community in the Washington area holds annually four events – three Tet Lunar New Year fairs (two in Virginia and one in Maryland), and a traditional ceremony at the Vietnamese Eden shopping center. They usually attract thousands of visitors at each fair.
In Virginia, Mr. Ha Binh Trung, president of the Vietnamese Senior Citizens Association (VSCA), will organize a Tet fair on Saturday January 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria. Vietnamese items such as food, flowers, books, music, photos, crafts, and fabric will be displayed and sold. Clad in their colorful brocade tunics, the seniors will pay respect to the ancestors at an altar erected inside the school so visitors, especially children, will follow their examples in remembering and retaining that tradition.
Eight members of the Vietnamese Medical Society for Northeast America, headed by Dr. Richard Tu Phay, will volunteer their services to provide free health tests and screening at the three Tet fairs. They will perform cholesterol, glucose and bone density tests and measure blood pressure level. For people who do not go regularly to doctors due to lack of money or transportation, the doctors will refer them to local free clinics.
Dr. Chu Quang Ngoc, with the assistance of five members of the Vietnamese American Dental Study Club and six dental students from the University of Maryland, Howard University and the Medical College of Virginia Dental school, will give free oral cancer screening and oral hygiene instructions. They will also distribute free tooth brushes and tooth paste.
Mr. Nguyen Mau Trinh, vice-president of VSCA, in conjunction with his colleague pharmacists from the Vietnamese Pharmacy Association and Pharmacy students from the University of Maryland Pharmacy School, will counsel the public on the usage of drugs, its side effects, and the types of exercises or the change in life style and diet people need to follow.
“These health fairs were designed as an educational tool to assess the health status of a person. They did not intend to be a venue for treatment, only a source of information and referral,” Dr. Chu said.
The same day, in Maryland, Mr. Hoang Dan, president of the Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association (MVMA) publicized that MVMA will host a Tet festival at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. Several contests will take place at that event: a traditional “Ao Dai” long tunic contest, a Comedy contest, a Karaoke contest, a beautiful Child Pageant contest, and finally a Poetry and Proverb contest.
The following day, on Sunday January 18, Mr. Ly Van Phuoc, president of the Vietnamese Community of Washington DC, MD and VA (VNC) will hold a similar Tet fair at Jeb Stuart High School in Falls Church. He also announced that the principal function of Tet will take place on the first day of the lunar new year, which falls on Thursday January 22. The VNC will host a grand ceremony at the Eden Shopping Center at Seven Corners in Falls Church at 11:00 a.m. with dragon dance, raising of both the American and Vietnamese flags, ancestors’ ritual, recognition of outstanding citizens, and exchange of gifts and wishes among old and young Vietnamese. The celebration will end with a typical traditional luncheon at the Dragon restaurant inside the mall with lottery and entertainment.
All are invited to attend these four exciting events, which will certainly bring great joy and good luck in the year of the Monkey to the 48,000 Vietnamese residing in the metropolitan area and their fellow Americans.