My Experience in Vietnam: 2004 – 2006

This is a snapshot of my life and experience in Vietnam from 2004 – 2006.  Things have changed tremendously and I miss those years a lot.  I thought I would post this video and add some information for anyone thinking of exploring Vietnam.

1. We start off in the countryside.  I really have no idea where this place was, it was just very beautiful

The Coconut Example – Services in America

One of the most intriguing things about living abroad, is the learning experience of returning to your native country and seeing norms, institutions, daily life with fresh eyes, almost comparable to that of a foreigner.

In some ways, I feel as though I have more control over my own life now that I have lived abroad and can look at things in my native country more critically now that I have a basis for comparison. Instead of simply saying “Well, that’s just the way it is” or “It’s what everybody does” I understand that what is “the norm” here in the USA may be the complete opposite in another country.

Saigon Stories – Vietnam Business Entertainment – KPMG First Fridays

Big surprise for me recently.  I was going through all my old Vietnam contacts for information I could use on my blog which lead me to the company “Events Vietnam”.  I remember this company well since they were the ones that as their name implies, put on business events.  A bit of history is in order but first let me get to my main point.

In the Video, I’m at:  1:18, 2:58, 3:05, 4:20

I AM IN THIS VIDEO AND I JUST FOUND OUT!  I EVEN AM THE MAIN ATTRACTION IN THE SPLIT SCREEN AND NEVER RECEIVED ANY ROYALTIES! (Just kidding about the Royalties)
From original website:  Events Vietnam

E-mail to Mai 3.3.2004

 
Hello Mai!
 
It’s been a long time and I’m glad we’ve remained friends.  I also write you first about Vietnam since it is with you that I wish to share my amazing discovery. 
 
I wish to live in Vietnam because the people are warm and beautiful.  A smile will always be met with a smile and this is something that has been lost in Ohio and in my experiences with people back home.  It is true that many will return a smile there but many will also assume you want something and put up a barrier.  If I wish to talk with someone I do not know, I will often be met with mistrust. 
 
In Vietnam I was able to feel something beautiful.  The people have nothing yet, I can feel their warmth and friendlieness.  I see so many children with scowls on their faces back home.  Yet, in Vietnam, my most amazing experience was not with women, money, or war but with a beautiful little girl by the ocean.
 
As I stood by the waves, I saw a little girl about 2 years old with her mother.  She was looking at the ocean splashing gently upon the beach and looked at it with such delight.  When I saw her it made my heart melt and I could not help but spread a smile from ear to ear.  When she noticed me she smiled so big and took some little steps to hide behind her mother.  She kept peering from behind her mother as they both smiled and it broke my heart to think of the pain that was caused to these people not so long ago.  Her mother rolled up her pant legs so her little tiny feet could be caressed by the waves and I could see the pleasure in her eyes.   It was then I realized that I wanted to be successful there so I could help as many as I could.  I did not only see this beauty in a small child but also the adults smiled back at me just as warmly and without alterior motives.  I could see the child in the poor beggar in the road who still is able to celebrate life. 
 
I feel that many back home have been corrupted by consumerism, money and the opinions of others.  Even though many live in big houses, they remain unhappy and mistrustful.  I do not get a good feeling when I’m in the midst, like they are judging me by the clothes I wear or how much money I make.  Many of the girls I’ve dated at home pay more attention to how intelligent, or how much money I have to offer.  In Vietnam the people will be extremely happy if I just sit and talk with them.  We sat a bunch of poor kids down trying to collect money and bought them all cokes and cookies.  We played games of slap hands, and junken and their eyes became so bright.  I found true happiness in this. 
 
It is my plan to reject the desire to be wealthy and be looked favoribly upon by my peers back home.  Their opinions of me have vanished with the smile of a child by the sea.  I am going to live there and I’m certain that with my knowledge of business, language ability and connections I can be successful.  I want to take whatever wealth I gain to help these people and I must admit it is for my own selfish reasons.  For when I see them smile and their eyes become bright I’m filled with such happiness of which I cannot begin to describe.   
 
Most people from wealthy countries will only see poverty and the bad aspects of the city.  What they fail to see is the beauty of the people.  If a person calls out to them and ask them to buy something, they will automatically put up defenses.  Yet, if they would simply sit and talk with the people and open themselves up, they could see how truly special the people are.   
 
In their smiles, I can easily sacrifice the time away from my family and friends.  I reject the idea that making money and being “successful” is the key to happiness.  My happiness will be making the Vietnamese happy and I will get to know them and will integrate as much as I can. 
 
I know we talk little, but from our discussions, I can sense your worry about the future and the pressures that are put upon you almost daily.  Life is all in our perceptions, yet these life pressures all too often form these perceptions.  My own perceptions have been radically altered from where I was mentally only a few years ago to where I am now.  You are a beautiful person and I can still remember the Mai from High School so full of life and aspiration.  Even though we talk little, I sense that maybe you have become a little unhappy, mistrustful of people and their intentions.  Maybe I am wrong, but I only wish to be a strong supporter of yours and hope one day to see your beautiful smile.  So if life’s pressures ever get you down, please remember that there is someone even though an ocean away thinking wonderful thoughts of you and who believes in you even though we have never met.  Even though you cannot see me and we may never meet, I’m am always right here. 
 
Your Friend,
Mateo