Howdy y’all, I’m here blogging my day 4 experience. A quick rundown of today: Vietnamese history and language lessons, exciting lunch at an indoor market, and then a visit to the Vina Capital company.
Today’s history lesson was about the history and culture of Vietnam. Once again I was in my element while learning about the ancient history and culture, and one thing that I found very fascinating was the portion of the lecture depicting the symbolism and significance of the native clothing. For example, between (1820-1777), the King Minh Mang issued a royal ordinance which was meant to help resolve the disputes between the Trinhs and the Nguyens over who wore what clothing. Ordinary people had to wear trousers and were prohibited from wearing skirts, while maids and royal concubines wore the traditional Ao Dai. The concubines were specifically made to wear the color purple. I also enjoyed hearing about the significance of each color of Ao Dai; girls wear white to symbolize purity, married ladies can wear a variety of colors, and older married women wear red. I learned that there were many practical and symbolic uses of the traditional conical hat known as the “Bai Tho”. The practical uses were to protect your face from the sun and to carry water and food. In the process of making the hat, you can write a poem or message on the reeds used to weave the hat, so when you hold the hat up to the sunlight you can see the special message. I found myself really absorbed in these lessons, so I thought that I would share!
Today, during our language lessons, we learned the numbers and how to tell time. I only mention this because I thought that I was actually doing pretty well. So, the update here is that I am ready to go out onto the streets of Vietnam on my own! If a pedestrian approaches me and asks me a question that I do not understand, I can at least count to one hundred.
Lunch was a hoot. We went to an indoor market where there were many different vendors selling different things. I got some yummy spring rolls and pineapple juice, but Pat and Lorenzo got chicken feet, which were wild. Overall, it was a 9/10 meal.
After lunch we had a presentation with Vina Capital and the Vina Capital Foundation. Vina Capital is an asset management group that invests in private and public equities. Our presenter was very knowledgeable and the conversation evolved into one about the global economy and Vietnam’s role in it. The takeaways from the conversation were: the U.S.A’s trade war with China benefits Vietnam; Vietnam has a rapidly emerging middle class which means that there will be more money to spend to grow Vietnam’s economy; and Vietnam’s government keeps the people’s needs in mind but they should try to streamline foreign infrastructure investment and create pension programs.
We then had another presentation on the Vina Capital Foundation which is the charity branch of the company. The Foundation’s main program is Heart Vietnam which aims to support children with congenital heart diseases. The founder had the opportunity to donate money to help save a child who had a heart condition and so the company created the Vina Capital Foundation to help that child and many more like him to receive medical services for congenital heart diseases and hearing loss. The Vina Capital Foundation receives 40% of their funding from Vina Capital and the other 60% through donations and fundraising.
Well that’s all for today! Check in tomorrow for more Vietnam updates!