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Vietnamese celebrate National Day

Update: September, 02/2012 - 15:09

 

Smile for the camera: The participants of Summer Camp Viet Nam 2012 pose for a photo in front of the statue of President Ho Chi Minh in the city that bears his name. — Photo Courtesy of Que Huong
Examining heritage: Young Viet kieu excitedly research an ancient artefact in Hue's Royal Citadel to enhance their understanding of their home country.
Showing their colours:Overseas Vietnamese youth perform with youngsters in Da Lat.
Encased history: Young Viet kieu visitors at Kim Lien Relic site gaze upon President Ho's personal possessions in his home province of Nghe An.
All singing, all dancing: Overseas Vietnamese and local youth deliver the goods with a joint performance in Hue.
Paying respects: Servicemen and members of the public mark the 60th anniversary of heroine Vo Thi Sau's death at her grave at Hang Duong Cemetery on Con Dao Island, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.
 
Viet Nam is celebrating the country's National Day, which falls on September 2, by hanging red flags along the streets and on every corner.

Some Vietnamese people who live overseas were lucky enough to celebrate the occasion by visiting their motherland.

Vietnamese-French-born Pham Duc Thien was very happy to join a 20-day trip back to Viet Nam along with 180 other young Vietnamese people from around the world.

"I was very lucky to have been chosen for the trip. It's a very rare opportunity to meet other overseas Vietnamese.

"Although we return to our motherland from many different nations, we still feel very close to each other. We exchange news and views as well as our thoughts and photos about our country on Facebook.

"The trip helps us to become more closely knit as a community and also feel closer to our homeland," said Thien.

The trip has been organised annually by the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese since 2003. It aims to help young Vietnamese understand more about their motherland's socio-economic development. Thien and his fellow travellers started their trip by visiting the Village of Culture and Tourism of Vietnamese Nationalities in Ha Noi's Dong Mo area.

"The village is really a miniature version of Viet Nam. I was born in France so it is the first time I've gotten to learn about the country's 54 ethnic groups. The artefacts and things at the village helped me to understand more about our culture and people," said Thien.

But Thien said the most important part of the trip for him is visiting the Memorial House of President Ho Chi Minh in Ha Noi and his native village of Kim Lien in the central province of Nghe An, because there he can learn about the President's revolutionary life and work to liberate the country from foreign invaders.

Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, said the trip, dubbed Summer Camp Viet Nam 2012, to the Red Land Region (the native land of heroine Vo Thi Sau) in south Viet Nam, aimed to pay tribute to the many Vietnamese generations that struggled and sacrificed for national independence.

This year, the young people on the trip had a big opportunity: they got to attend the 60th anniversary of the death of Sau, who was executed by the French, and the 150th anniversary of Con Dao Prison, said Son.

Pham Thu Thuy, a student from Ukraine, said she and her friends were really moved when hearing stories of heroes and martyrs who had sacrificed themselves for the country, such as those who died from flood and famine in 1945 in Thai Binh, Nam Dinh and other northern provinces and cities in Viet Nam.

"We will study hard and work hard to show our gratitude to those who devoted themselves to the nation.

"I'm studying nursing. After graduating I want to return to the country to work in a remote area to help poor people," said Thuy.

Pham Quang Huy from Malaysia said, "We have had many interesting conversations with local young people. Many of them are poor but study very hard. They are good examples for us to follow."

Huy said because of the trip, he now has many new friends in Hue. "We exchanged addresses, mail and telephone numbers and promised to stay in touch."

Huy said he was happy to be invited to a local friend's house to enjoy special Hue dishes such as com hen (rice with mussels) cooked by the friend's mother.

"The dish is really tasty and delicious although it is very peppery. I will bring the recipe for com hen to my mother to cook the dish at our home," said Huy.

Huy's fellow traveller, Do Ha Mi from Poland, said she was born and grew up in the eastern European country.

"Since I was in primary school, my parents told me Vietnamese folk tales and shared their experiences in their homeland.

"They related stories to me day after day. It helped me to understand the culture of the East and develop a sense of pride about my family roots.

"Apart from Vietnamese books sent by my relatives from Viet Nam, I usually search the internet to get more information about the different aspects of life here," Mi said.

Thanking the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese for organising the trip, paticipants agreed: "We had an unforgettable experience. The trip has positively affected my thinking and increased my awareness about the homeland."

"The camp allowed us to travel throughout the country to understand the traditions and culture of our ancestors.

"But the most important thing is that the journey has connected young Vietnamese who are studying and living in different nations to unite in love for our country.

"We are aware that young Viet kieu should not forget their mother tongue. They should learn it to communicate with local people once they return to work," said Mi.

Visiting Con Dao Prison, Pham Thuy My from Germany was in tears upon hearing a tour guide relate stories of heroes and martyrs:

Even though the penal colony gained notoriety under the French, it was not until the archipelago was turned over to the US-backed Sai Gon regime in March 1955 that it truly became "devil's island."

Up to 12,000 patriotic prisoners, including women and children, were tortured and left to starve or freeze to death in the tiny, squalid cells now popularly known as "tiger cages".

As the American War escalated and the need to crush dissent in the South grew, hundreds of tiger cages were built in 1971. They were just 1.6m by 2m, with an iron grille on top through which the guard could taunt inmates.

"Despite the utterly miserable conditions in which they lived, the inmates of Con Dao used their incarceration to discuss future strategies and form strong bonds that shaped the development of Viet Nam's post-war politics," said the tour guide.

She said almost all of modern Viet Nam's most renowned revolutionaries once served their time in Con Dao. So distinguished is the list of prisoners that the penal colony came to be known as " Revolutionary University".

They include Phan Chu Trinh, Huynh Thuc Khang, Ngo Gia Tu, Nguyen Van Cu, Tong Van Tran and Vo Thi Sau.

"We were all moved to tears when visiting Hang Duong Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 20,000 patriots," My said. She added that she learned from a book about Le Hong Phong, the former alternative member of the Central Committee of the International Organisation of the Communist Party, who was tortured to death on September 6, 1942. Now, she said, "we stood burning incense before his grave. It was a great moment."

The trip ended at Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province's Dat Do District, the native land of heroine Vo Thi Sau.

"We joined a local art troupe to perform songs to praise Sau, who sacrificed herself for the country at the age of 16," said My, adding that her overseas friends have donated VND75 million to children of war martyrs and invalid soldiers as well as to upgrade the district's memorial house of Sau. — VNS

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