Việt Nam, US strengthen friendship through cultural exchange

Update: May, 23/2016 - 09:00
Scholars, cultural activists and members of the Friends of Vietnam Heritage organisation meet in Hà Nội to discuss ways to strengthen friendship through cultural exchanges between Việt Nam and the US. Photo
Viet Nam News

Việt Nam, US strengthen friendship through cultural exchange

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam and the US have made several efforts to strengthen friendship through cultural exchanges but it isn’t enough for mutual understanding, according the president of the Việt Nam-US Association.

Nguyễn Tâm Chiến, the president of the association, was speaking at the “Việt Nam-US Friendship: Cultural Bridge” meeting held yesterday in Hà Nội, which attracted the participation of many scholars, cultural activists and members of the Friends of Vietnam Heritage organisation.

Chiến stressed that the people of the two countries should increase the exchange of literature, cuisine, art exhibitions and art performances.

“The quintessence of the two cultures is the invaluable gifts we can give each other to make the two nations genuine friends,” he said.

“President Hồ Chí Minh had established the Việt Nam-US Association in 1945.

The meeting was organised to mark the publishing of the book Vietnam: Tradition and Change by scholar Hữu Ngọc in Việt Nam and the United States, following the co-operation between Thế Giới Publishers and Ohio University Press.

At 98, Ngọc is among Việt Nam’s most famous scholars and is a keen observer of traditional culture and history.

The new book, edited by Lady Borton and Elizabeth Collins, is a selection of the author’s essays from his earlier book Wandering through Vietnamese Culture, the only English language book to win Việt Nam’s Gold Book Prize.

This book sold over 10,000 copies in 10 editions but was too thick (over 1,200 pages) to be effectively distributed to foreign buyers. The editors then condensed the volume into a 300-page book to contain only the essential content under the title Tradition and Change. The book also comprises detailed footnotes and comments.

“My main objective is to emphasise the uniqueness of Việt Nam,” Hữu Ngọc.said.

“Many foreigners believe Vietnamese culture is simply the tail-end of China and we strongly reject this notion.”

“While Việt Nam is certainly heavily influenced by Chinese culture, like Japan and Korea, we also boast of a vibrant culture of our own.”

Trần Đoàn Lâm, director of Thế Giới Publishers, said we all have much to learn and enjoy from the book.

Hữu Ngọc has done us all a great favour by capturing traditional culture in a burnished gem that we can treasure forever. This book is the perfect gift from Việt Nam to the US.”

Other people actively engaged in promoting cultural exchange between two countries, such as writer Nguyễn Quang Thiều and theatre director Trương Nhuận, were also part of the meeting.

This event is part of a series of cultural events to welcome US President Barack Obama who is visiting Việt Nam today.

Reminiscing about US President George Bush’s visit, Chiến said when the then president visited Việt Nam in 2006, he had said he loved Vietnamese food.

“He even let the car window opened to wave at Vietnamese people who welcomed him warmly., unlike other heads of state who mostly kept their car windows closed while travelling on the streets,” Chiến said. -- VNS