Instead of our normal business visit, we instead decided to visit the US consulate. During our visit, we got to talk with two members of the State Department. One was an economic officer and the other was in charge of press. Our discussion was quite interesting as we were receiving the opinion of US citizens who have been living in Vietnam for the past 3 years. They spoke of the economic development of Vietnam, some issues facing the Vietnamese, and the visa process to go to the United States. The economic figures, that were discussed, were very impressive. In a very short time, Vietnam has gone from a low-income country to a median-income country. Their GDP is increasing by around 7% a year, and the processes of urbanization and industrialization are rapidly occurring. However, with these advancements, comes several problems and issues. Pollution is an ever increasing problem especially in the cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. One of the major source of this pollution is the swarms of motorbikes that dominate the city’s streets. There is no end in sight regarding that issue as the solution of more people getting cars presents its own issues. These are lack of parking space, and narrow streets. One of the other solutions is public transportation such as buses or the new metro line being installed. Although feasible, the buses are not as convenient as scooters and the metro line is behind schedule in its construction. Thus, alternate solutions must be explored.
Another thing I learned from my visit was the process by which foreigners apply for visas to visit or immigrate to the United States. First, the applicant must be interviewed by a consulate employee before receiving their visa. These interviews last around a minute and it’s up to the discretion of the interviewer to discern whether the visa should be granted. Also, the number of interviews that the consulate employees conduct a day was surprising. Hundreds of interviews a day were conducted. Furthermore, the wait time for some of the visas were extremely shocking with some of them being upwards of 14 years.
Finally, I capped off my day with some excellent food. Two of my friends and I decided to go out and explore and find some food. The restaurant we choice was fantastic. We got two dishes which we shared. They were pork spring-rolls and the restaurants signature dish. This dish was comprised of shrimp, been sprouts, and onions surrounded by a crispy egg crepe. Needless to say, it was the perfect way to cap off the night.