RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thousands came out to Raleigh's Dorton Arena Sunday to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year.
The event started more than two decades ago, with only a couple hundred people showing up. Now, more than 3,500 attended, and the event keeps growing. Tho Nguyen with the Vietnamese American Association of Raleigh hopes that means awareness about the Vietnamese Community is growing too.
Nguyen said the event takes months to plan. It provides an opportunity to gather and celebrate Vietnamese culture with traditional food and performances, along with opportunities to meet people and learn about Vietnamese history.
For Nguyen, this event is all about unity.
"Combining the two cultures together, we had the American national anthem, as well as the Vietnamese anthem to honor both cultures in North Carolina," Nguyen said.
Nguyen is most excited about the scholarships that are offered as part of the event. They used to hand out two per year, but as the event has grown, they now offer eight scholarships, in addition to a Service and Leadership award.
"That is awarded to an outstanding student who dedicates his and her time to the community, helping others, and teaching others about Vietnam," Nguyen said.
Elizabeth Pham received one of the first scholarships back in 2018. She's since used it to get a degree in Psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she served as President of the Vietnamese Association.
"My family has always instilled in me how important it is to remember where you're from. Don't forget the language. Don't forget your people," Pham said.
Still heavily involved in the community, she served as an emcee for Sunday's event, helping Vietnamese culture continue to thrive in the Triangle.
"A lot of us immigrated over here, a lot of us. So being able to experience our culture outside of Vietnam and in your new home is just a beautiful thing," Pham said.
The event takes place every year and hopes to continue to grow in the coming years.