Now that the 4th is past, we’ll talk more about other events coming up – the big one next weekend is West Seattle Summer Fest Friday-Sunday in The Junction, but next weekend has more to offer too, including an event at the site shown above: Along Orchard west of Delridge, across from Home Depot, by Tug Tavern, that small house with the big statue out back is inviting you to a Vietnamese Cultural Festival a week from today, including a closer look at the statue; we first found out about it after dispatching a student-journalism team to go find out more about the statue, something we’ve meant to do for a long time, as we often get questions from passersby – read on to learn about it, and about next Saturday’s event:
(First a note about the student journalist: You may have seen bylines elsewhere mentioning the “UW News Lab.” After speaking several times at the University of Washington in recent months, we were asked by the News Lab’s director whether we would like to be on the list of news organizations invited to submit story ideas for the students to tackle. This is the result of the first idea we submitted; thanks, UW! The photos are by us.)
By CINDY ARRIOLA
UW News Lab
If you go south of Home Depot on Orchard Street, next to the Taco Truck and behind the Tug Tavern, you’ll find a small house with a large white marble statue in the back yard. It is the home of the Vietnamese Cultural Center.
The grandly scaled statue, 7 feet tall and standing on a 6-foot granite base, is of Vietnamese Gen. Tran Hung Dao. Two dragons guard each side and a small waterfall is set in the center.
The statues were brought here from Vietnam, according to Lee D. Bui, the founder of the Tran Hung Dao Foundation, a non-profit organization in Seattle. Bui is also the manager of the cultural center. Bui honors his Vietnamese heritage by teaching community members about his culture.
“I want people in the community to have this center so they learn about another culture,” Bui said. “Vietnamese American children come and have instruction about their culture.”
The community is invited to a festival and open house at the center on Saturday, July 12, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be kicked off by a U.S. and Vietnamese flag salute. The program will include speakers, traditional music, a lion dance and karaoke, as well as tours of the statues.
In Vietnamese culture, the dragons always accompany royalty. For Vietnamese, Gen. Tran is a hero because he fought against the invasion of the Mongolians twice in the 13th century and defeated them.
What makes Tran’s legacy even more important is the fact that he led a troop of common men who were poorly equipped. During that time the Mongolians were at the peak of their power, controlling most of Asia.
Bui brought his visitor into the small old house. Inside were pictures hanging on the wall of special performances in honor of those who fought for their country. A small sanctuary honors the general and other war heroes. Next to it is fresh fruit, an incense burner and a box for offerings.
Bui said “anyone can come to the sanctuary and pray. We are not a religious center; we are a cultural center.”
The Vietnamese Center offers children’s sports programs such as volleyball and Chinese chess. Both teams have won trophies, Bui said. He believes it is important to keep children busy and out of gangs.
The center began operating in April 2006, mostly serving Vietnamese Americans.
“I want children and everyone to learn about Gen. Tran’s war history,” said Bui. “I live in West Seattle; my children went to school here. That is why I opened the cultural center here.” Bui donated the land and the house for the center.
(CINDY ARRIOLA is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)