Ket Doan is a community based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to meet the needs of young Vietnamese American professionals and to address issues that affect their everyday lives. Even though Ket Doan is active in many different programs and activities, we emphasize three particular objectives.
The first is to develop programs that promote the preservation of Vietnamese culture for today’s young Vietnamese Americans. Out of all of Ket Doan’s missions, this is the most important one. America is known as the “melting pot,” where all the different cultures that make up the United States become assimilated into one, becoming “Americans.” Even though we value our American identity, we also want to preserve our Vietnamese identity to have the best of both worlds. Not only do we wish to maintain the culture and identity of our Vietnamese ancestry, but more importantly, to teach these values to the younger Vietnamese American generations so that they too will have pride in their heritage.
Secondly, our aim is to encourage involvement in community projects that serves the Washington Metropolitan area. We want to serve our community, to pay back a small portion of what we have obtained from it. Our reach extends to the whole of the Washington Metropolitan area, not localized to a school or single community. We strive to help and volunteer in all facets, not only in the Vietnamese community.
Lastly, Ket Doan endeavors to create an environment that creates opportunities for young professionals to develop leadership skills and gain experience in preparation for their exposure to the real world. We believe in the importance of having young voices, ideas, and talents, and therefore encourage the development of their leadership and teamwork skills. We offer not only a chance to be on staff, planning and development of many of our various projects, we also provide workshops and seminars that provide training for many skills essential to leadership. After all, today’s youths will become tomorrow’s leaders.
Throughout each year, our diverse projects provide members with many opportunities to be involved. “Leadership, culture, education, and community” with these four words in mind, along with our three missions, we aspire to unite young professionals and to encourage them to participate in ventures that serves our community and to build a better tomorrow.
Prior to 2001, Vietnamese students from different schools had their own agendas. Although the agendas may differ in the methods but they were similar in the mission. With a common goal of promoting Vietnamese culture, a small but energetic group of aspiring Vietnamese leaders from several Vietnamese Student Associations (VSA’s) in the Washington Metropolitan area held a meeting to share resources among the many schools. From this gathering, Ket Doan camp was initiated.
After a grueling summer of late night and early morning meetings, the first ever Ket Doan camp was held on October 6, 2001 near Front Royal, Virginia. Among the muddy trails and in that cold mountain air, bonds were formed while singing around the campfire and huddling together in cabins to fight the chilly night. From each other, we learned new games, new stories, and legends as students once over a hundred miles apart became friends. Differences in backgrounds, and cultures were not set aside; they were celebrated. In our diversity, we found strength because we had found a common ground.
All told, a total of seventy-five students, representing eight different university and colleges were in attendance. Participants responded with high praise towards the workshops and games designed to promote teamwork, and cultural awareness, including a scavenger hunt based on Vietnamese folk tales, and a campfire talent show.
Fall, 2002. It started with a simple email, or an occasional instant message. “Hey wasn’t that fun? Wouldn’t it be a great to do it again?” Then the chattering grew, and rhetorical questions became serious. With the successes of the first camp still visible, the organizers set about to build upon their gains. To help buffer from the transient nature of student run groups, it was decided that Ket Doan must be independently operated from the VSA’s but with their support. A constitution was drawn, and the first board members were elected in November 2002.
With the support of the community, and such groups as Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Association, Ket Doan has grown in scope and size. And though some of the originators have moved on, fresh faces and fresh ideas promise to make Ket Doan as effective as ever in realizing its vision.