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VietNamNews

VN and Brazil: poles apart

Update: April, 18/2013 - 10:03

by Julio Benedetti *

Total football: Vietnamese people and Brazilians share an obsession with football, among other similarities. — Photo danviet.com

(VNS) As a Brazilian who lived for a year in the beautiful city of Hue, in central Viet Nam, I was quite surprised some months after my return home to see a popular Brazilian TV show announcing that its 40th anniversary would be celebrated with a special episode about Viet Nam.

Despite the fact that the host, a famous Brazilian journalist, only visited famous places such as Ha Long Bay, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, the show received positive reactions from my friends and relatives who after seeing even such a small part of Viet Nam on TV were impressed by its landscapes, culture and people. Suddenly the idea Brazilians had of Viet Nam – almost exclusively related to the war – began to be reshaped.

I believe we are always curious about differences, so part of this interested reaction was due to the great differences between both countries – politically, culturally and socially – as presented on the TV show.

 * Julio Benedetti is a Tourism Consultant and blogger from Brazil who has lived, studied and worked in many different countries, including Brazil, India, Italy, USA, Netherlands, Viet Nam and Laos.

he social gap in Brazil is much larger and more evident than in Viet Nam, Brazil is a very liberal country in terms of sexuality, and our food, costumes and language are equally far apart.

However, there are also similarities. Viet Nam and Brazil are both undergoing enormous cultural, social and economic changes, a relatively high GDP growth in recent years, an opening trade to new markets and an emerging middle class.

The then Brazilian President visited Viet Nam in 2008 and both countries have signed new commercial, scientific and educational agreements. I could go on with much more information, but it is all "Googleable".

What I want to talk about is other similarities – some subtle yet striking – between our countries, that may interest both Brazilian and Vietnamese readers.

Firstly, the most evident one - football. During my time in Hue the FIFA World Cup in South Africa was widely televised and I couldn't believe it when I saw the passion the Vietnamese have for the sport.

Everyone was on the streets cheering for their (foreign) teams. Every day I saw Vietnamese school kids playing football in whichever open area they could find in town.

Secondly, the coffee. The Vietnamese coffee has a distinctive taste and method of preparation, but I became so addicted to it that once I arrived back in Brazil it was the Brazilian coffee that began tasting different! Despite these differences, it's remarkable how both nationalities enjoy having a coffee and its important role as a social activity. A similar trend can be seen with rice – the Vietnamese staple food – which is consumed by almost every Brazilian on a daily basis.

Brazilians and Vietnamese people both share a strong sense of patriotism, resilience and optimism. They are highly proud of their country while being able to acknowledge the flaws. Similarly, I found that Brazilians and Vietnamese people show a strong resilience to life's hardships accompanied by an incredible sense that things will get better in the end. And this is one of the aspects I like most about both countries.

While in Viet Nam, my friends and relatives home always used to ask me if I missed home as it was so far away. Had they lived in Viet Nam, they would have understood how close I really was to Brazil – with a refreshing glass of nuoc mia (sugarcane juice) in hand watching the Vietnamese kids from my neighbourhood getting together to play football on an improvised field next door. — VNS



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