Rather than going to UEF in the morning, we took a visit to the US consulate. The consulate functions similar to an embassy, it’s just under a different name because it is not located in the country’s capital. One job of the consulate is to make sure the people in Vietnam have a favorable opinion of the United States. They also help US citizens with any legal or medical issues they may experience while in Vietnam, or in doing business with Vietnamese companies. For example, they may deal with US based companies who have invested money in the rapidly growing economy and are experiencing difficulties dealing with the companies they invested in. The representatives from the consulate also explained the five different “cones” that foreign service officers can focus on while in a country: consular, economic, management, political, public diplomacy. The information officer, who works in the public diplomacy area, explained how he uses social media to relay any important information to US or Vietnamese citizens. The consulate also works with Vietnamese citizens when they want to do the things like study abroad in the United States. The main thing that stood out to me during the visit was how much people in Vietnam like the US. Currently, 93% of Vietnamese people have a favorable image of the US. This is beneficial from an economic standpoint as many US companies are investing in Vietnam to take advantage of the cheap labor and high quality product.
Following the trip to the consulate, we went to UEF where we finished our lesson on Vietnamese culture and had another language lesson. The students did a fashion show and we were able to see the different types of Vietnamese clothing worn for special occasions. During language class we learned about to bargain for items as we prepare for our trip to the market next Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll be able to remember all of the numbers and phrases so I can buy some things at Ben Thanh.
At night we went to see the water puppet show. Instead of a stage there was a small pool with a curtain behind it where the puppeteers stood. They had J shaped poles that they held under the water to control the puppets and move them around. The show was a series of 15 skits that showed a bunch of different things ranging from boat racing to three kids playing around and splashing together in the water. Luckily, we weren’t in the splash zone. It was a ton of fun to see a type of show that I didn’t even know existed, and it was unbelievable that they were able to make the puppets do such complex movements without being able to look at them. After the show we went out and ate pho for dinner. I was finally able to figure out how to use the chopsticks a little bit tonight and actually finished the meal without too much frustration.
I can’t wait to go to the beach tomorrow, and hopefully I don’t get too sunburnt!