Today, at the United States Consulate – my favorite visit so far – we were able to learn from two foreign service officers stationed in Ho Chi Minh. They described to us some of the duties they perform within their various roles; provide visas, gather and organize information on local politics, host various educational events, etc. They explained that, when a Vietnamese citizen applies for a visa, they are required to complete an interview in order to be approved. For an immigrant visa, they said the process may take up to 14 years, while a non-immigrant visa could potentially take as little as 1 week. Of course, the importance of the consulate goes beyond helping travelers and hosting films. As they build security, facilitate investment and trade, and promote human rights, they strengthen the relationship between the United States and Vietnam – which is anticipated to be very mutually beneficial. One statistic that stood out to me today and every day is the 93% approval rating the Vietnamese have regarding America. I hope that we as a country are able to maintain this number and aid Vietnam as its people face the growing pains of development.
And, one of the speakers, Mary Trechok, gave me her business card and told me about summer internships in the U.S. and abroad. Hopefully I will be able to take advantage of that opportunity – I know I’ll try my best to!
Afterwards, we went to yet another delicious lunch, enjoyed with discussion of more study abroad opportunities with Hillary and Brian. I have a feeling that I’ll be writing a lot more blog posts in the years to come (bad jokes included).
Then, the rest of the day, along with my stomach, was full of food. The Vietnamese students prepared their traditional dishes for us, and took us to a small shop to buy ice-cream. After we were perfectly stuffed, we tried on our form-fitting suits – oof.
We finished the night with a walk to dinner with most of the group and the Vietnamese students. I can truthfully say our “family meals” are one of my favorite parts of this entire experience. I have the best company from both sides of the world.