Today’s journey took somewhat of a different route, both literally and figuratively, as we began by touring the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. Although I would not consider myself homesick, it did feel nice to know that I would get to set foot on American soil, albeit for a short period of time. The visit to the embassy was quite educational, as we were able to learn much about how the United States collaborates with Vietnam, despite the war that pitted the countries against each other less than 50 years ago. One of the foreign service officers who talked to us worked in economics, while the other worked in public relations, allowing us to get two unique perspectives on the work that is done by the US in Vietnam. It was interesting to see how the US is working to bolster growth in Vietnam, and how both the embassy and consulate are making it a target to facilitate that growth, particularly with a growing trade relationship between the two countries resulting from President Trump’s trade war with China, while cooperating with the communist government of Vietnam on cross-border issues, such as climate change. From the perspective of public relations, the embassy has been focusing on changing the perception of the US in the eyes of the Vietnamese, particularly in regard to the war, an effort that has seen 93% of Vietnamese claim a favorable opinion of the United States. All in all, we were able to learn much about the USA’s involvement in Vietnam both economically and politically, while being back in America for an hour or so.
After this tour, we went back to UEF for the typical classes, returning promptly to change and prepare for a water puppet show. The show was quite impressive, filled with entertaining music and dialogue (that, of course, I couldn’t understand). Having more pho for dinner was a positive, and I ended a successful day with the purchase of the wildest jacket one could possibly imagine. Vietnam is starting to almost feel like a second home, and I am certainly making a point of returning here one day, possibly even to retire.