Today, rather than visiting a company, we went to the US Consulate to hear about the work they do and the relationship between the United States and Vietnam. Both presenters work to fix issues in the relationship between the countries, but one focused one economics and one focused on public relations. I was very surprised to hear that the approval rating of the United States here is over ninety percent when many of the people we were at war with just fifty years ago are still alive. One reason for this seems to be the good trade relationship that we have. Vietnam exports more to the United States than it imports, which helps its economy grow as rapidly as it has. An interesting idea that we talked about today was the future of manufacturing around the world, which is something I had been wondering about this week as we’ve talked about development here in Vietnam. We learned that as countries develop, the things they manufacture get more advanced, from disposable plastics to semiconductors and finally towards producing ideas and designs themselves. People are wondering who will make the simpler items like disposable plastics as all countries develop and become more skilled. This is unclear, but inventions not even thought of yet could change the items we use entirely, possibly away from these simple disposable items at all.
During the rest of the day, I had pho again for lunch, then headed back to UEF for more classes. We finished our culture class by seeing a fashion show of traditional clothing, watching videos of Vietnamese instruments being played, and trying a new dessert (a combination of milk, ice, and jelly?). Our main evening activity today was attending a water puppet show, a type of performance that has existed for centuries. I am still unsure of exactly how the puppets were being controlled, but I had a lot of fun watching it. We ended the night with more pho (I will never get sick of it) and shopping downtown.