Consulate – The Heart of the Trip

Today, May 11th 2018, we had arguably the most important part of the trip scheduled in the morning. We were able to visit the U.S. Consulate located in Ho Chi Minh City, and speak with two of the workers, a Press Officer and a political/economics worker. They spent a lot of time discussing some of the main ideas behind what their jobs are and the overall goal for the consulate. The consulate aims to help develop the country of Vietnam while increasing relations between Vietnam and the United States. It is part of the executive branch of the United States and reports many economic factors back to Washington D.C. The main focuses for the consulate towards Vietnam are security, trade and investment, balancing trade, human rights, and relationships between the people. The consulate focuses on these aspects through economic and environmental development in and outside of Ho Chi Minh City. The consulate also handles visas from Vietnamese people who want to go to the United States. The two types of visas that people in Vietnam can apply for are immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. In both cases, the people applying for the visas are required to have an interview at the U.S. consulate before they are accepted or denied. Immigrant visas are often longer and take more time to accomplish since that person is trying to move and stay in the United States. For nonimmigrant visas, the interviewers are obligated to start the interview by assuming the person applying for the visa wants to immigrate, and so the person applying for the nonimmigrant visa must prove that they are not immigrating. The processes often vary in time because each person is in a different situation and has different qualifications. The U.S consulate also provides specific news and information about the United States to the Vietnamese people and hopes to give them a more favorable approach of the United States without providing any false information. Something that stood out to me during the visit was the fact that the communist Vietnamese government does not affect the U.S. consulate at all. I also found it surprising that the people we talked to said that Vietnam has a 93% favorability towards the U.S. Given a recent dark past, I have learned that the U.S. has come a long way with developing and strengthening relations towards Vietnam, but there is still a long way to especially towards environmental development since industry in Vietnam is growing so rapidly. As the day concludes, I have a much better understanding of what the U.S. consulate in Vietnam aims to accomplish, and I am certainly looking forward to going to the beach at Vung Tau tomorrow!

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