Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Every Vietnamese is a diplomat

A few days earlier my mom listened to an interview on RFI and told me about it, prompting to read the articles in English about the incident. Outraged and indignant I couldn't put down my thoughts. 
But now I feel I should write some lines. 
I should add that I was not a bit surprised reading this piece of news. I'd known about it. Thanks to my mom and her connections I have travelled to several countries in Europe, met and talked to a great number of Vietnamese people, not only pro-democracy activists and their friends, relatives, but also apolitical, ordinary people working in Europe, especially the Eastern part. The Vietnamese slang word for growing cannabis is "trồng cỏ". It's very common in the Vietnamese communities in Eastern Europe and Britain. The English police, thus, associate the drug farms with Vietnamese people and the image of Vietnamese people is getting quite bad in the UK. 
That reminds me of a discussion with a Vietnamese Norwegian friend a couple of days ago. Basically she told me, because of some reasons I don't feel like mentioning here, she was considering studying in Poland, but somebody advised her not to go there because she's Vietnamese. She asked me if I knew why. Well, the thing is, whilst the majority of Vietnamese people in Norway are boat people, and their descendants, from the South, the majority in Eastern Europe are from the North, and Central Vietnam, most of whom are workers sent there in labour-export programmes (which I see as no other than a modern form of slavery). They, to put it simply, limit themselves within the community- work among the Vietnamese, go to Vietnamese markets, speak Vietnamese, eat Vietnamese food, watch VTV4, read An ninh Thế giới, live more or less in the same blocks or at least within the community... In other words, they borrow the land and don't care at all about the native people, or any ethnic group in the place in which they live. That is enough to annoy, or offend, native people. But that's not all. Vietnamese people, when not smuggling cigarettes and other stuff, "trồng cỏ" or at least commit other crimes- attacking, fighting, killing each other within the community. Though I think logically speaking the Poles might have some sympathy and understanding for the Vietnamese since they have gone through communist years, I don't think they have much respect for Vietnamese people.
The 3rd related incident is, about 2 or 3 weeks ago on the bus or the metro I saw some warnings of pickpocketing. Both my mom and I thought, now, Oslo's not safe any more, not peaceful as before. Yet a relative of ours, who has lived in Asker since the 1980s, said pickpocketing had begun in Oslo nearly a decade ago, when there started to be more and more immigrants from different parts of the world and society became complicated. Once in a while they put up some warnings to tell people to be careful, this wasn't the 1st time. Then she said, a couple of years ago some Vietnamese people shoplifted without knowing everything was recorded by a camera there, so the video was broadcast on Norwegian TV and shown everywhere. 
If only some people realise that, in a foreign country, they, when not able to do something for their compatriots to feel proud of, at least shouldn't do anything to make us ashamed when saying "I'm Vietnamese". 
And the Vietnamese people in Norway? So far they've been pretty much invisible. Norwegians don't have much thought about them. Pretty OK. Haven't done any outrageous, unacceptable crime. Haven't got a very high position. Haven't had an influence on Norwegian politics. Focus on earning money. At least are not seen as lazy and dependent on welfare. (Please excuse me for stepping to 1 side, keeping a distance and using the pronouns "they" and "them" instead of "we" and "us). 
But, let me tell you something: "Trồng cỏ" has spread to Norway, too. 
What can I say? 

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