Updates from October, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • explorewithasmile 9:56 am on October 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ngo, , , war   

    Quotes from an American Vietnam War Veteran 

    Please think deeply about what I shared to you all, make any comments you may like and ask any and all questions.

    Here is the link to Project Renew: http://www.landmines.org.vn
    It has a wonderful video explaining the project in detail: http://www.landmines.org.vn/galleries/videos/video_01.html

    Thank you so much for watching

    : )

    • jhboisselle 1:49 pm on October 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the thoughtful and provocative posting. It’s so powerful to hear first person accounts, isn’t it, and equally compelling then to take on the responsibility of representing another’s voice. The presence of NGOs and their varying missions, scopes and sustainability is an area that I’d love to hear more about as you interact with more individuals and groups!

    • Ellen 2:20 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Great post, Taylor. It speaks to some of the issues we were wondering about during my visit. What a great opportunity to hear about NGOs first hand.

  • explorewithasmile 3:44 am on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    STORM! – Eastern Coasts of VN and U.S. 

    This is not the best video (his Vietnamese accent is horrible), but a good overview of the storm that is hitting Vietnam right now.

    Even though we are half way around the world – both Geneva, NY and Ha Noi, VN are bracing for a storm today!

    • Ellen 4:01 am on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Son-Tin vs Sandy!!

  • appelsina7 4:50 pm on October 27, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    One of the things that I have been thinking about lately is being uncomfortable. I have become comfortable here in Vietnam but there are moments when I am shaken by something I observe or something that is said. It can be as simple as learning that I can wander the city by myself, get lost for a while in the busy streets and meander my way back to an area that I know. There are some things that I will never get used to. I will never be accustomed to people throwing trash into the streets, or urinating in public. There are some cultural differences that I consider to be abrasive and learning how to respond effectively, so that I will neither offend nor feel poorly myself is an important skill to be developing. I was having dinner with some of my American study abroad group members as well as some of our roommates and three of their friends whom we had not yet met. We were getting to know the Vietnamese students, finding out what they study and what they like to do outside of school. They asked if we had boyfriends and we were answering. I was the only girl in the group with a boyfriend, so the Vietnamese students were trying to figure out why my friends weren’t in relationships. One of the Vietnamese guys, then made a comment about women needing to be in a relationship because even a weak man can protect them. I found this comment offensive, and understanding that Vietnamese culture tends to be very sexist I contained, what in the states would have been a scalding rebuke, and calmly asked him, “why does a woman needs a man to protect her and why would even a weak man be stronger than any woman?” He looked at me and smiled. I then heard one of my American friends say under her breath, “Wow this is not the time.” I was confused but let the conversation turn to other topics without an answer to my question. I wanted to know why my friend said that, so after dinner when we were walking back I asked them and they said, “it just was not the right time to be challenging the cultural norms when we were just meeting them.” Then they got defensive and walked away. I still believe that I was not challenging his beliefs by simply asking him about them. I did not say that he was wrong but only wanted to know why he thought women should be in a relationship and not be single. I wanted to know more about how Vietnamese people, as old as myself, view romantic relationships. This is why I came to Vietnam, to gain an understanding that I would not be able to, if I were to travel here on my own and for a shorter period of time. We are here to be immersed in the culture, I understand that asking questions and having discussions can be uncomfortable because it is those conversations that I find to be the most valuable. So when is it the right time to ask someone a question? Do I wait, like my friend suggested, until I know them better, to bring up the topic? I do not think I acted in a way that was offensive, I believe that it is best to ask the question when the topic is brought up naturally. If I had not said anything I would have felt more upset being left without a reason for such a statement. I don’t believe that in many of these cases that there is going to be a “right time,” if the question is controversial, no matter when you ask, people may feel uncomfortable at first but that does not mean that the questions should not be asked. I think it would be even more accusatory if I had waited for another time and asked randomly “so what are your views about the roles of men and women in a relationship?” Or if I had waited for an issue or problem to arise, so I would have to confront him directly, because of a comment that he made about me or someone else that I felt was demeaning or just plain rude. So this is one of the important issues that I have been mulling over. Let me know what you think. Have you had any similar experiences while traveling abroad?

    • Nancy Lowry 10:42 am on October 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Melissa – What an incredible conflict, and you wrote about it very movingly, thoughttully, respectfully, and clearly. I have no answers, but perhaps you might want to pose your questions again with the woman who commented at the table. or someone in your group that you trust. Nancy L [and Dover]

    • DougReilly 4:20 pm on October 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks so much for posting this, it’s very well written and thought provoking. There are no easy answers to your questions. Interhuman relations in the same culture are complex enough, let along putting a language and context between people. I think you handled the situation with thoughtfulness and care. If you met someone in the US with such attitudes, you wouldn’t pause over cultural considerations or because you just met them, necessarily. Why would it be different suddenly? This is the hard thing, balancing relativism and our innate sense of right and wrong. But I think that’s okay, cross-cultural dialogue is not always going to be smooth sailing. If it was, I don’t think either side would learn much. You’re not there to become Vietnamese, but better understand both the cultural context and the individual variations. And understanding often takes questioning or even challenging. What will the dissonance you provide as you refuse to go along with sexist ideas going to accomplish? Hard to know, but it might have been the first time anyone disagreed with the guy in question. Who knows if that will make him think…Anyway, thanks again for the post, it’s a great window into what it’s like to truly cross cultures!

    • sallyintaiwan 2:30 pm on November 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      So glad to hear you post this! On one hand, it’s certainly interesting to hear of the differences in ways of thinking about the roles of men and women in the family, society, and relationships. But I, like you, can’t get past being uncomfortable with certain “norms.” On the same subject, I’ve been told matter-of-factly that Taiwanese men are simply uninterested in and not attracted to “western women.” The reason for this being they are considered too independent, too stronger willed… at least that is the way it’s been put to me. I think your question was appropriate. It doesn’t sound like an attack, it sounds like an inquiry—simply a means for you understand a way of thinking a little better. I actually would have like to hear their answers!
      And by the way, I’m glad to be considered independent and strong-willed (:

  • DougReilly 5:56 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Challenge Five: Listen Up! 

    Go out and turn on your ears. Not those ears. Well, those. But also your iTouch ears.

    The book Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator and Alison Jay(Barefoot Books 2007) is a favorite in our family right now. 🙂 The detailed illustrations charm my daughter but it’s the narrated text that captivates. When we read it aloud, she leans in and tilts her head, signaling full attention. Below is an example from the book that nicely reflects the quintessential fall weather we are experiencing this week here in the Finger Lakes:

    Honk, honk, geese call. Swish, swish, leaves fall. Whoosh, whoosh, hats fly. Whoo, whoo, owls cry.

    What’s the relevance to Asiapod? Listening is a critical component of learning. Asiapod bloggers, for Challenge Five, we want you to take a “snapshot” of your current audio world. Something short: thirty seconds or so. Perhaps you’ll share your own voice, a phrase or a saying in the language you are learning from your daily life; or, it’s something from your environment,  such as the hum of the traffic that you hear outside your window every morning. If you aren’t up for actual audio recording, please do feel free to share reflections on your audio world via whatever medium/means you are inspired!  See, for example,  Taylor Anderson’s prescient posting this past week on rain or others from Asiapod 1.0.

    If you don’t already have a preferred way to capture audio, check out the app Audioboo. Use Audioboo to capture and then copy the link for inclusion in your WordPress posting.

    We’re listening…

  • DougReilly 5:55 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
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    Challenge 3 & 4 Roundup! And the sandals go to… 

    We’re awarding two pairs of Vere Sandals today, in response to the recent (and awesome) flurry of postings. Keep up the awesome work…Asiapod is really rich this year thanks to your contributions!

    Taylor “explorewithasmile” Anderson has certainly been doing that, and giving us (a lot of) dynamic video commentary from Viet Nam. These sandals, however, are given in honor of her work with the Map My Run challenge. Great job!

    Melissa Hosek gets the other pair of sandals this week, for her though provoking photograph and story “Monk in Luoyang”, which Mission Control found very profound, and pretty.

  • explorewithasmile 3:01 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Challenge 3: Map My Route 

    I decided I would show you all my morning workout routine.

    There are some downs to living in the university student district of Ha Noi, but a major up to living here is the fabulous park that is a quick jog away from our student guesthouse. The park is filled at all times of day with all sort of Vietnamese people both male and female doing various kinds of exercise like jogging, ballroom dancing, yoga, tai chi, zumba and even working out on the jungle gym!

    Almost every morning I go for an early run to the park. I run 1.5 times around the lake where I then stop at a jungle gym area to do lunges, squats, pushups, situps, pullups and other exercises on some of the equipment. Afterwards I run back the way I came home to the guesthouse for a quick shower before class.

    My Route

    Sometime other female students and I get funny looks and comments in Vietnamese, but people have started to get used to some of us working out consistently. Even the guys at the jungle gym area are getting used to us and inviting us in to the rotation on the pullup bar!

    The ideal women in Asian cultures, not just Viet Nam, are thin and muscle-less. So, for William Smith athletes it can be a bit awkward and sometimes uncomfortable to work-out and be ‘big’ here. Even still, there are a lot of Vietnamese women at the park participating in activities like dancing – I guess to stay thin!

    : )

    • DougReilly 3:37 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m sure in the countryside you see some strong women. I recall some old ladies wielding machetes that I wouldn’t mess with. The topic of body image is very interesting, as is the thought that the Vietnamese guys you work out with may talk for many decades of the Amazonian American women that could beat them up! 🙂 Nice job using Google Maps to chart your run!

    • explorewithasmile 3:54 am on October 29, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Countryside women are definitely strong, but still super thin- I can’t find muscle definition on them anywhere, but they sure can carry a very heavy load in those baskets! The body image issue in Vietnam is very interesting; weight is talked about constantly in a very public sphere of discussion. Fat = money (and good cook!), but the ideally beautiful woman = thin, pale, weak. So generally in Vietnam, Americans are VERY BIG and perceived as VERY RICH!

  • explorewithasmile 12:45 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , photo,   

    Challenge 2: Signs 

    Better late than never, right? I hope so.

    I found this iconic propaganda poster at the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Ha Noi. It was used to help fuel the unification movement in Viet Nam under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh first against French colonialism and then, perhaps more importantly, against American aggression.

    The words (without proper accents) “độc lập thống nhất hòa bình hạnh phúc” in English means “Independence, Unification, Peace, Happiness”.


    Makes you think, huh?

    • DougReilly 3:33 pm on October 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Ho Chi Minh is a fascinating character. I loved visiting his house on stilts in Hanoi. I also like to think about his time in the US as a younger man, wondering what he though about us and if he ever had any inkling that we might send whole armies to kill him! Otherwise, it is interesting to see that politicians everywhere find great value in carrying small children in front of the public!

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