Starting our day in the typical fashion, we had a Vietnamese history and culture class. This class was so fascinating to me because we were hearing from a historian who was speaking from the Vietnamese point of view. We learned all about their facts and history. He included a lot about the people, not just events. He also added in legends whenever he was able so he added a lot of enjoyment to the lecture. When someone is passionate and knowledgeable about a topic, it just automatically transfers energy to you about the topic. It is inspiring to see what Vietnamese people went through and recognize how it has made them, who they are today.
Our language class is usually my favorite, but today it got very difficult. We started adding a lot of vocabulary in and new sentences as well. We learned how to talk about someone in the third person from where they’re from, what they do, where they do it, and what’s their name. Today’s class opened my eyes more to how difficult Vietnamese is to learn. It makes you reflect on the idea that in other countries, many people speak English as an automatic second language, and we are so absorbed in our culture, we don’t step back and learn much about others.
In the afternoon after a lunch at HUTECH, which is the larger school that UEF is a branch of, we visited the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. A Consulate is like a smaller piece of an embassy in a city that is far from the embassy but still needs a lot of development in its area. The workers in the Consulate provide Visas for Vietnamese people to come to the USA, they help women get a birth certificate if they have a child in the country, they can help you if you’re in a minor accident, or if you lose your passport. We met with three of the consulate generals. They told us about their daily operations, and how they are there to help both the United States citizens abroad, and the Vietnamese people who are looking to travel to the U.S. They told us how economically, to remain a world super power, we actually want people to travel to America and learn more within their country. This is because it will help to boost America if all of our partners are doing well also. Something unique we learned, is that the Consulate has a lot of culture programs like hosting a movie night for Halloween to explain the tradition and handing out free candy to visitors.
The Consulate informed us of the relationship between America and Vietnam. It was surprising to see that they truly value us and the citizens have given America over a 90% favorability last year. Which is insane because our own President doesn’t even have that percentage. Therefore, if they see the person is coming over for the right reasons, then they will most likely be approved for a visa. The Consulate was just about to film a video about how to fill out the FAFSA. So, they really are as much of a resource to the Vietnamese people, as they are to the U.S. What surprised me the most is how our two governments work well together. Certain issues are not available to be talked about because they are still a communist country. However, we have been able to accomplish a fair amount in Vietnam due to our great relationship such as working together to stop the damming of the Mekong Delta River upstream. We will be seeing the Mekong tomorrow, so I am sure I will have more information and be able to further describe the development of the river for better or for worse.