The bus left at 9:30 AM instead of 8:30 AM, so this morning was automatically pretty nice. I skipped breakfast to sleep in a little more. Our first event of the day was a visit to the U.S. Consulate. It is located in a nice building in downtown HCMC.
A consulate is different from an embassy because an embassy is located in the capitol and houses the ambassador. Workers at the consulate strive to assist American citizens in Vietnam. For example, the consulate may communicate with the Vietnamese government to create greater privacy when purchasing items with credit cards. The consulate also protects the rights and interest of U.S. citizens that are imprisoned. For Vietnamese citizens, the consulate is working hard to improve healthcare. They have invested around 100 million USD into cleaning up Agent Orange spills from the Vietnam War. Another area of focus is combating human trafficking in Vietnam. Efforts like these benefit Vietnam, and they also benefit the United States; as Vietnam becomes more developed in areas like healthcare, the nation’s quality of life will increase, leading to increased trade with America. With China looking to spread its influence across Asia, the U.S. needs to have friends in the area. Vietnam is a great partner politically and economically.
Vietnamese citizens can also apply for a visa through the US Consulate. This process is relatively straightforward for non-immigrant visas. All of the instructions are easily available online.
The last part of the day was a traditional water puppet show. The puppets dashed around in the water, almost appearing as if they were alive, which made the performance cute and entertaining.
Tomorrow, I’m going to get a tan.