Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Last week I was shocked twice by things Vietnamese teenagers said to me in regards to Ho Chi Minh. The first came after I gave a private student an essay with the topic: "If you could meet any dead person from history, who would you want to meet?" The student immediately said to me, "Ho Chi Minh." I was expecting this because 90% of my students in Vietnam have always given that answer. What I wasn't expecting was his follow reason: "I would want to meet Ho Chi Minh so I could stop him from winning the war." I was shocked and said, "Really?" He nodded and said, "Yes, if America won we could have Harvard in Vietnam." The student began to explain to me how he wished Vietnam had become part of America (most Vietnamese I have met think that America was trying to colonize Vietnam) and had they been successful would have built up Vietnam in America's own image. Needless to say, this was pretty blasphemous for a Vietnamese person to say.

However, less than 48 hours later another teenager said this to me, "I don't think Ho Chi Minh is a good role model. He lived very poorly. As the head of the country he should have lived a richer life." Again, blasphemous.

I don't think these two kids' opinions are in anyway indicative of people's thinking as a whole. However, it was still shocking to hear and in some respects, refreshing. It's nice to know that the younger generation isn't afraid to speak their mind. Perhaps the future of Vietnam will have true Freedom of Speech.

The craziest part of this is that both these remarks were made the day before and the day after Ho Chi Minh's birthday!


Huyen said...

I think both those two kids have too young thinking. They are not told about much about how hardly and how proudly old Vietnamese won the war against Americans. If we lost in the war, we would not have had our freedom as now. I cant imagine what would the kids think if that happened.

I feel really sad when our young generation thinking like this?!!!

Anonymous said...

america did not colonize vietnam, so what "lack of freedom" is huyen talking about? the american influence would be greater if the north lost and probably some would perceive vietnam becoming a US puppet but truthfully that really would've resulted in much greater prosperity for all, not to mention prevent the travesty of what happened to southerners afterwards. you want to talk about patriotism and being proud of your country - prosperity would've preserved and encouraged culture in so many ways and thus strengthened the national character, a thousand times moreso than bloody communist ideology that ran vietnam down to the ground even moreso than it was after the war, until you had doi moi in the 90's.

Kim said...

It is so sad the see the people from the North got "brain wash" from the communist about freedom, communist does not have freedom period. For sure the people in the North has more freedom now because the goverment adapt the "freedom" from the west (as Chinese, Russian communist) so they can have more money in their pocket...
But not with the people in the South. thousands & thousands people (from the South) have risked their life escaping communist for their freedom.
my own experience when the South became communist, we did not have any freedom compare with the old goverment..everything got control by the goverment even with the basic daily living activities: where to stay, what food you allow to buy, to book to read, what song you can sing, all the travel, grocery, study, meeting etc. got controlled by the communist goverment; the school children were brainwahsed & forced to wear the red scrap & become "good children to uncle Ho" before to be come the good children to their parents; most every family has the father, son forced to go to "jail" (the so called re-education camp".
so if the North lost in the war, VNese in the South would not had lost their freedom, and the peolpe in the North would had re-gained their freedom right away without all the bribe from the goverment people

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