Young foreign scholars love Vietnam by simple things

Published: 08/12/2008 05:00



VietNamNet Bridge – Many young foreign scholars commit themselves to the study of Vietnam for something very simple. They gathered in the 3rd International Workshop on Vietnamese Studies in Hanoi last weekend.

Eren Zink, a lecturer at the Uppsala University in Sweden. At the age of 34, Eren is one of the youngest Vietnamese studies scholars.

Bonnie Doule (USA): fond of bargaining at markets

Bonnie Doule, 24, graduated from the Chicago University. She studied in China in 2006 but after just one trip to Vietnam as a backpacker, she decided to go to Hanoi to do her doctorate thesis. Bonnie can speak Vietnamese quite fluently after three months.

Bonnine studied Vietnamese very quickly because she hardly spoke any English since she came to Vietnam. As a postgraduate of the Fulbright Program with the theme “China’s Influence on Vietnam,” Bonnie is living in a dormitory for foreign students in the campus of the Hanoi University, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi. She also works for the Chinese Research Institute, which belongs to the Vietnam Institute for Social Sciences.

When asked what that she like the most in Vietnam, Bonnie did not mention some things that are sublime, but sincerely said that she likes going to a mobile market in Thanh Xuan District and making bargains.

“Different from other countries, Vietnamese sellers don’t get angry but smiled when I asked for lower prices,” Bonnie said. However, she hates transportation in Vietnam the most. She is scared of traffic in Vietnam so she takes the bus like other Vietnamese students, not buying a motorbike.

Eren Zink (Sweden): Vietnamese youth are very dynamic

Eren, a lecturer at the Uppsala University in Sweden, is working on a doctoral thesis on Vietnam so he often flies here. At the age of 34, Eren is one of the youngest Vietnamese studies scholars. More specially, most of his research work is on Vietnamese young people.

Eren brought to the workshop a presentation that he invested several years to survey the trend of Vietnamese young scientists after graduating from foreign universities and institutions.

“Though they challenge a lot of difficulties studying abroad, especially financial difficulties, thanks to their dynamism, intelligence and eagerness for study, most of Vietnamese young people are successful and many people have returned home to serve their country,” Eren commented.

He said nearly ten years ago, he met and made friends with some overseas Vietnamese students and the love to Vietnam came naturally. Eren can speak Vietnamese very fluently and he learnt it from overseas Vietnamese students in Sweden. He has never attended any Vietnamese language course.

Lee (right) and Kim
Lee and Kim (Republic of Korea): busy with studying Vietnamese so still single

They do not have deep research works about Vietnam and they are not real academics of Vietnamese studies, but Lee Mi Jong and Kim Min Jung, two pretty Korean girls who were born in the 1980s, attended the workshop like other scholars.

They concentrated on listening to presentations about Vietnam’s culture, economic and social issues and they were not afraid to debate with famous scholars.

Kim is the research manager of SK Telecom while Lee is the designer of the Art Gram Company. After a short business trip to Hanoi over one year ago, Lee decided to leave the Korea Sports Daily to come to Vietnam to seek employment. When asked why she made such amazing decision, it is because she fell in love with a Hanoian man? Lee smiled and said: “I don’t know. I’m about to become a spinster. I’m nearly 28 and I don’t have a boyfriend.”

Because of her love for Vietnam, Lee spent her own money and even received financial assistance from her parents to attend a Vietnamese language course at the Hanoi University for the past year. Whenever there is a workshop or meeting about Vietnam, this designer tried to attend.

Meanwhile, Kim’s parents are working in the southern province of Vinh Long. She came to HCM City three years ago to learn Vietnamese. She is now working in Hanoi and still studying Vietnamese. The two girls became close friends because they share the same passion for studying about Vietnam.

To save money for learning Vietnamese language, Kim rents an 18sq.m room in the suburban Gia Lam District and rides a motorbike to her office on Ly Thuong Kiet Street. Like Lee, Kim cooks for herself Vietnamese cuisines every day to save money and to learn more about Vietnam’s cuisines.

Nadja Charaby (Germany): Loves everything about Vietnam

Starting to study the Vietnamese language at the age of 19, the love for Vietnam on the heart of German Nadja Charaby, 31, is still intact. As a staff member of the German Development Service (DED), working for many projects in Vietnam, Nadja has good conditions to go further in Vietnamese studies.

Asked what she likes and dislikes the most in Vietnam, she simply said that she loves to live in the countryside and the mountainous region, where ethnic minority people often wear unique costumes. The thing that she dislikes the most is the crowded, dusty and unorganized streets.

However, whenever she returns to Berlin, Nadja managed to come back to Hanoi very quickly because she loves and remembers even the thing that she dislikes the most.

Professor Yumio Sakurai (Japan): researching Vietnam until the heart stops beating

Professor Yumio Sakurai

Professor Yumio Sakurai is very proud of his research work about Bach Coc, an ancient village in Vietnam, which is famous in the circle of Vietnamese academic studies.

“When my heart stops beating, I will stop researching about Vietnam,” he smiled and said.

Bach Coc village in Vu Ban District, in the northern province of Nam Dinh, would not have been known by Vietnamese people and the world without Japanese experts’ merit. Since 1998, over 300 Vietnamese researchers have conducted research of this typical ancient village of the Red River Delta. They have discovered many documents and objects of the ancient Vietnamese people, such as tombs, epitaphs, bronze drums and stone objects.

Professor Yumio Sakurai, the Chief of the Vietnamese Research Association in Japan, is among the first experts who researched of Bach Coc village.

The professor said there is an interesting story about why he chose Bach Coc village as a research subject.

“In 1993, I came to Vietnam for the first time to research the Red River delta. I paid visits to many northern villages but when I came to Bach Coc village, I was really charmed by it. In 1994, I asked the Vietnamese government’s assistance to survey the village.”

The more he researched the village, the more he loved it. Through ten years of survey, the Japanese professor has found out many more interesting facts about the local villagers, besides the domain of learning.

“Bach Coc village has become my ‘second child.’ After Bach Coc, we will research many other places in Vietnam. I pin my hopes on young Japanese students and many overseas Vietnamese students in Japan,” he said.

Professor Yumio Sakurai successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled “Learning of the establishment of Vietnamese villages” at the National Tokyo University in 1987.

In 1992, he again successfully defended his doctoral thesis named “History of irrigation development in the Red River Delta” at the Agriculture Faculty of the National Tokyo University. This is the first experiment of the combination between Vietnamese studies with natural sciences, the premises for today’s Vietnamese studies.

Bach Coc was the first regional study conducted in Vietnam under the cooperation of the Vietnam Research and Cultural Exchange Centre, which has ran for the past 14 years, attracting over 300 Japanese experts.

The research work of Bach Coc village is published in 16 summary records in Vietnamese and Japanese. Workshops about Bach Coc were organized in Nam Dinh in 1987, Hanoi in 2003, the Netherlands in 2002 and Japan in 2007.

Vladimir I. ANtoshchenko (Russia): Vietnam – the second hometown

Vladimir I. Antoshchenko at the workshop.

With nearly 30 years of studying about Vietnam, Associate Professor, Doctor of Vietnamese history Vladimir I. Antoshchenko from the National Moscow University has a lot of interesting research about Vietnam.

“Vietnam’s history has many interesting things. The more I research, the more surprises I get. At this workshop, I will have a presentation about the history of the post-Le dynasty. I have come to many surprise conclusions that Vietnamese historians don’t have,” he said.

The Russian scholar speaks Vietnamese like a native Vietnamese. “For nearly 30 years, I have spoken Vietnamese like my mother tongue. Sometimes I do not remember whether Vietnamese or Russian is my mother tongue. Vietnam has become my second hometown.”

It is very simple for Antoshchenko to choose Vietnamese studies. When he studied at the Orientalism Faculty of the Moscow University, he was assigned to research Vietnam. “I love researching the history and religion of Vietnam. That’s the two fields that I consider the key for research,” he said.

In the current trend of integration, Antoshchenko believed that the Vietnamese people would be very quick to adapt themselves to integration because the Vietnamese people’s nature is learning new things very quickly and knowing how to maintain identity.

Antoshchenko has temporarily stopped teaching at the National Moscow University to work for the Russia-Vietnam Joint Venture in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau. But he believed that with the history of 50 years of Vietnamese studies sector in Russia, there will be many more Russian students to study Vietnam.

(Source: Tien Phong)

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