A Different Kind of Cool

Today we got to visit the United States Consulate in Ho Chi Minh city (kind of). More specifically we visited the American Center, a building that is dedicated to both help Vietnamese citizens with any American related business they have (for example helping them apply to college in the US), as well as spread American culture through books, movies, demonstrations, and panels. In addition they help American businesses apply for and maintain licences to operate in Vietnam, a sign of strengthening economic ties between the US and Vietnam. The Consulate as a whole is also responsible for providing various services to Americans that are in Vietnam. This includes helping with medical emergencies, replacing lost passports, and notarizing various documents.

Getting back to helping Vietnamese, one of the Consulates main duties is to process visa requests. The speakers explained that everyone who starts in Foreign Affairs starts by processing visas, and the consulate reviews hundreds of requests a day. They did not go incredibly in depth, just mentioning that they look over financial records and interview the applicant to try to ensure they want to go to the United States for the reason they listed.

More interesting to me was the type of resources that the center provided to all Vietnamese people. At the center, they had all types of literature, and played all types of documentaries and movies, including and especially literature that was banned by the ruling government of Vietnam. This was surprising, considering the censorship that the government does everyday combined with the fact that the center appears to have official approval from them to display these materials. The staff claimed that the material was for Americans, and to show the Vietnamese what America and its media is like. I think this helps show the loosening of traditional censorship by the communist and authoritarian government.

Leave a Reply