by Audri Mukhopadhyay*
I have had the pleasure of representing the Government of Canada in HCM City for almost three years now. My experience in this warm and welcoming country has been filled with lasting memories that will hopefully contribute to the many links between Vietnamese and Canadian communities abroad.
|Full steam ahead: Canada's Consul General in HCM City Audri Mukhopadhyay poses for a photo at Da Lat Railway Station, a popular tourist destination in the Central Highlands city. — Photo courtesy Audri Mukhopadhyay
I enjoy being in Viet Nam for many reasons. One of these reasons is the great year-round weather in HCM City. I also enjoy the many travel opportunities within Viet Nam. One can easily travel to the high mountainous regions of Da Lat, or visit the beautiful beaches in Da Nang. Naturally, each region offers a different culinary experience. The weather and the easy access to provinces allow visitors and locals to experience a variety of delicious and mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes. I must say that the food in Viet Nam is very unique and flavourful. I love the freshness and also that the food is generally quite healthy. There is also an abundance of tropical fruit that is usually difficult to find in countries like Canada.
I think HCM City is a fun and young city with a dynamic population. The Vietnamese are very friendly and full of energy. I have had the pleasure of meeting with local students, and it is clear that these young and enthusiastic people are eager to strive and succeed.
I was once asked what I missed most about Canada and I had to think a while because there are so many great things about living here. I do sometimes miss the long walks in calm green parks. This is a little harder to find in HCM City as you can see with the bustling life and busy traffic that is often congested. I used to take long strolls in Point Pleasant Park near my home in the city of Halifax in Canada.
One of my most memorable moments in Viet Nam has been working with HTV, HCM City's largest local broadcaster. Together, the Canadian consulate and HTV have been filming a series of episodes introducing a variety of topics related to Canada. Some of our themes have included the scenic landscapes of Canada, historically influential landmarks, and important cultural elements such as sports and arts. The topics are carefully selected to showcase the beauty and diversity of Canada, but to also better connect with the Vietnamese population. Working with HTV has been a great experience. The staff are always approachable and professional. They are also quite eager to powder my nose every time, which has never ceased to surprise me. I have never put on make-up before, so this was certainly new to me. I am sure that this will be a lasting and unusual memory for me.
I truly feel that Viet Nam is a country with great potential. The people are friendly and energetic. This is clear when I meet students during our education fairs and university visits. With regard to the question of what I think can be improved in Viet Nam, I feel that the methodologies in the education system could better reflect the technological innovations available today. The students are bright and have learned to strike a good balance between maintaining their traditions while adapting to the modern, technological world. It would be great to see a similar balance in the methodologies within the Vietnamese education system. — VNS
*Audri Mukhopadhyay is the Consul General of Canada in HCM City