Coat of arms of Vietnam
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In my life I have made many very close friends from all countries.   I am always talking about my life in China but for those of you who are interested in other Asian countries I have a treat for you.   One of my very close friend wrote a brief article about life and culture of the people in Vietnam.   I wanted to share this with those of you that have interest in this culture.   We mostly know the Vietnamese people from the local nail shops in the states.  They actually see more foreign women than any other Asian group.   Here is a look at their culture from a local man now living in Vietnam, I am a little surprised to find how similar it is to Chinese culture. enjoy.

In comparison with the West, a typical Vietnamese cares a lot more about family like many Asians to the point of being ready to make  personal sacrifices.

Many are living in some sort of contradictory mixture of collectivism and individualism. People tend, on one hand, to show respect for the group by identifying themselves with their family members or those sharing the same province of origin, but on the other, their behavior in public can be a disappointing manifestation of individualism e.g. disregard for others’ right of way in traffic, queuing or (lack of ) practice…

As individualists, they are not able to work well together as a group like the Japanese, but they tend to be not individualist enough to stand up for themselves like the American and often succumb to group pressure for fear of retaliation or social ostracism.

There are some monolithic tendencies with less tolerance for new and unusual things, and diversity in general. Most Vietnamese are conservative in taste and hesitate to try new things such as unusual food or music. Many are rice-sick,e.g, when traveling overseas for even a short period.

In terms of inter-racial relationship,it is more common for women than men to date and marry foreign persons (Some Vietnamese women find western men richer or treat them better or both). Vietnamese men, probably macho by tradition, tend to have more trouble than their female counterparts adjusting themselves to foreign women. As individuals, they tend to respect less others’ rights to disagree especially if these others have weaker voices e.g. young vs. old, student vs teacher.

Many Vietnamese seem to be irrational in terms of time value.On one hand,they spend many working hours drinking beer or doing nothing, they often rush in traffic as if they were going to die tomorrow, on the other (even after earthquake, the Japanese did not show the rush expected in this kind of extreme situation). Going after quick buck at the detriment of civility (predatory behavior not only against foreigners but any other easy prey) seems to be another aspect of that irrationality.

In terms of regional differences, I tend to think the people in the South are capable of providing a better quality service than their Northern counterparts who are more aggressive and less service-oriented. Southerners are also believed to be more open and warmer, but probably more artificial, than Northerners who are more stoic due to the hardship of life they experienced a decade ago.

They are often hard-working but tend not to aim for the top, meaning more easily happy with themselves than, for example, South Korean.

Vietnamese are proud’ they have strong national identity; because they were never completed crashed under foreign occupying boots (they had them all: the Chinese, American, French, Japanese…) even when it took them one thousand years getting rid of them.

Vietnamese are crazy soccer fans even though the national team would take decades to qualify for the World Cup. The skeptical can check the street out the night when Vietnam has a regional win.  They are proud that their mathematics minds are among the best of the world with Ngo Bao Chau recently winning the mathematics equivalent of Nobel prize.