I was just thinking about differential treatment of locals and foreigners when the YIIP team also brought it up on their blog: http://yiip2011.blogspot.com/
I think that anyone who doesn’t look Vietnamese here will always feel like a bit of an outsider. A while back, we got a security briefing at work. The main message was “blend in.” Difficult for someone who doesn’t look Vietnamese!
There is this park around the backpacker area of Ho Chi Minh City, 23/9. It could sound like a weird name for a park at first, but it refers to September 23rd 1945, the date when French troops returned to Vietnam for the second time.
Since there are many foreigners around this area, many Vietnamese come in groups to initiate conversations to practice English. It seems that many English teachers in HCMC must ask their students to record their conversations in the park because I’ve had many university students interview me and write down my answers. But people also come here simply because they want to practice their English. It’s amazing how motivated they are to speak English.
When I speak about Canada to Vietnamese people, the image they have of Canada is a nice, peaceful, clean, quiet country that offers its citizens a good quality of life. At the Consulate, one of our goals is to push Canada’s brand in Vietnam. Obviously, we are off to a good start. The challenge is that though the image is good, Canada is not the most “top of mind” country.
Some misconceptions are to be expected of course, from a country that is half way across the world. One Vietnamese guy was telling me he really really wants to go to Canada to try all the fast food. But he would never set foot there in the winter because it’s -40 every day. :)
I was surprised to hear how many Canadians live in Vietnam. The Canadian community is growing in Vietnam with over 1,500 Canadians living in the country including 950 in the South.
Tomorrow I’m heading to the Southern Province of Tra Vinh in the Mekong Delta for Canada Day celebrations. Tra Vinh University received a lot of support from CIDA so we have a good relationship with them. Afterwards I’m joining a coworker in her hometown in the Mekong Delta.
Keep you posted. :)