Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Veterans and a Drunk Man

On Sunday, we were required by the government of Ben Tre to be listen to a speech given by a Vietnamese veteran of "the American War." It was a slightly uncomfortable experience. He told us how many Americans he killed and how great his squadron was, and we asked questions about how he viewed Americans now and whether he was proud of the people he killed. Even though this easily could've have come across as propaganda, it was actually a fairly interesting talk. The man was very nationalistic. He fought for his country and thus was proud of how he protected it. He believes what it past is past and does not begrudge Americans as all. Most of all, he emphasized the Vietnamese people's love of peace. Especially interesting was his - rather standard- view of Americans not valuing peace...or at least of sticking their noses in other country's businesses. He said it without maliciousness and he spoke from the heart, but the message was clear. Americans don't seem to value peace as much as other countries do. Perhaps this is because we don't have to fight so hard to achieve it on our own soil. I felt like he was generalizing a bit - grouping all Americans into this "police" role, but it's not completely out of the question to see where he was coming from. Regardless, the best comment of the day was when he said he put on bug spray before swimming across the river. This was to keep away the sharks.

In other news, today's dance class (already strained because of a power outage that left us struggling to teach the kids "step" which turned out to be far too rhythmically challenging) was interrupted by a drunk Vietnamese man. Smelling strongly of alcohol, he continually spoke in slurred Vietnamese that I of course did not understand. Being the only white person in the room, he sought to shake my hands, which was rather less than appealing. Nevertheless, he caused no harm and was soon escorted from the premises. Strangely enough, the kids seemed undaunted by his presence, merely giggling at some of the words he was spewing. Perhaps the drunk man is a normal visitor...

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