And so our adventure in Ho Chi Minh City is halfway over. I suppose time must travel faster when you’re eleven hours into the future, or else I’m really just having the time of my life.
Today we visited the American Center and got to meet with some representatives from the United States consulate. We were originally supposed to visit the consulate itself, but the American Center’s security is less strict so it was easier for us to meet there instead; it’s basically a resource center for American citizens to seek government assistance and for Vietnamese to visit and expose themselves to western media content and other resources.
It was explained to us that anyone who wants to get involved in foreign affairs starts out with perhaps the most demanding and tedious of the State Department’s many duties, visa applications and interviews. Many Vietnamese apply for U.S. visas every year, and low level consulate employees are charged with interviewing them to determine that their reasons for visiting are legitimate.
The American Center provides many resources to help the Vietnamese through this process, including posting videos and scheduling Skype calls with citizens who live in rural areas in order to ensure that they are well-prepared for their interviews. It also offers help to Vietnamese students in applying to American universities, as that process is complicated enough on its own without being from another country.
Though this may not seem these provisions benefit the United States, they do indirectly. By assisting Vietnamese citizens with even the littlest things, the U.S. is improving on its already high mark of 94% favorability among Vietnamese. This kind of micro-diplomacy is essential in stabilizing relations and progressing conversations at the governmental level, and a stable Vietnam (and world) is absolutely beneficial to U.S. citizens.