Foreigner - 15 July 2012 - ENGLISH - 4 -STUDY BY MR. DANG THANH TAM
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Main » 2012 » Tháng 7 » 15 » Foreigner
2:13 PM
Foreigner
So everyone has heard about the German guy running through traffic in some say a misguided act of heroism. I, like a lot of readers, have read the coverage and the consequent opinion pieces from, well, everyone it seems. I'm not about to rehash an already overdone news piece, but the incident itself raised a wider point of debate for me, the case of identity here in Vietnam.

Many of the pointed comments about this man are based on his nationality, which struck home for me after living here for nearly 3 years. I know that for some people I will be labeled like George as a "Foreigner". It's alienating, stark and vague. Foreigner from where? The spirit of "us and them" will always be alive and well with the use of such terminology. "Foreigner decides to enforce traffic rules", how dare a foreigner take matters into his own hands! Because if a Vietnamese person had done the same thing, it would have been A-OK? I think not.

It raises a whole gamut of questions and doubts for me about my existence here in Vietnam. I, as well as many other expats over here have worked, volunteered, made friends and have settled down into life here. We aren't living out of suitcases and mouthing XIN CHAO with a vacant look on our faces. We are actively participating in life only to be branded a "foreigner".

Many were outraged that a foreigner dared to get involved in enforcing Vietnamese law. How many would be as outraged if a "foreigner" intervened in a Vietnamese bar fight and saved a life? I was certainly very greatful to a Vietnamese man who helped me off the road after a traffic accident. Are we to turn a blind eye to dangerous behaviour, or to a friend getting onto his bike drunk, ready to ride home? After all, its not our country, why bother.

Surely everyone helps keep a community strong and healthy, whether its a small village in the south of France, or a bustling metropolis in Vietnam. Irrespective of race, religion or sex, shouldn't everyone play a part? The incident in Hanoi was putting people at risk , and so it's difficult to condone such an activity, but I don't think George's aim was to interfere in someone else’s business, he merely saw an injustice and reacted as many people would.

If I am just a "foreigner", then what is my stake in this country? Along with others my age, I came to Vietnam pretty much fresh out of university and have done a lot of growing up here at the same time as Vietnamese people our age are doing. I will be different to many of my friends back home as Vietnam has contributed to how I have matured. Of course this isn't my country, and it isn't about laying claim to a land or people, it's about growing up here, speaking the language, giving something back and generally - participating. Colonialist? Tay ba lo? Foreigner? Nope. British will be fine, thanks.
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