Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 19 November 2007
1. You grew up in the Northern countryside part of Vietnam. What led you to come to Taiwan?
Both my mother and elder sister are teachers in Vietnam. I learned from them that teaching is a very rewarding job and it motivated me to follow their path. As I have always been interested to learn more about other cultures and as I particularly liked Chinese language, I decided to become a Chinese teacher. I chose to go to Taiwan over China because Taiwanese write in traditional characters which are closer to the origins of Chinese culture. Along with the development of Asia, Chinese is becoming a more and more popular language to learn. People use it when they do business or travel in Asia, so I think I made the right decision to focus on it. Chinese might become ‘the’ language of a more united new Asia.

2. Is ‘Being Asian’ a new concept to you?
I see many similarities between Vietnamese and Northern Asian cultures. I was able to adapt to Taiwanese life style within three months. In Vietnam, we also celebrate Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival. I feel there is a lot I can share with other Asians, and I am part of a bigger group of Asian Nations. I am a Vietnamese indeed, but I am also an Asian.
Levels of growth development represent the most obvious differences between Asian countries. Many Vietnamese go to South Korea or Taiwan to seek job opportunities such as factory workers or domestic workers. Asia’s development is giving chances to the youths who go abroad to get a better education. Back in Vietnam, I feel it is our duty to teach the young generations what we have learned abroad and, in this way, contribute to the development of our country.

3. How does Asian cooperation help to develop the national economy of Vietnam?
Vietnam is part of ASEAN, the only supra-national organization in Asia. Trade relations within Southeast Asia contribute greatly to the development of the national economy. However, the perspective of a bigger Asia offers more opportunities for cooperation in which Vietnam can take part. Our country can offer Northeast Asian developed countries the cheaper labor they need. Asian developed countries, like Japan, focus on production of new technologies which are made at a higher price. In this sense, broader cooperation in Asia is a chance for each country to develop its market. It also gives opportunities to the people living in developing countries, like Vietnam, to get a job in their home country. The money they earn enhances their living and can satisfy their needs: eat better, even buy a house…

4. Which role do you think young Asians can play in the construction of a more united Asia?
When it comes to the diversity in Asia, you bump into difficulties, but I believe the construction of an Asian Union is happening. I think Asians should be more curious, should talk more to each other. People from different countries usually find a way to communicate, overcoming their cultural differences. So, I think communication can be a good start to unite Asians, and an easy way for young Asians to participate. Living in Taiwan, I am a bridge between the culture of my home country and the one I am experiencing here. I can introduce Vietnamese values and education to Taiwanese who also share with me the characteristics of their culture. In this sense, learning Chinese is a priority because it enhances mutual understanding.

5. What did you learn living in Taiwan that you would like to share with Vietnamese?
I think everyone can learn something by traveling abroad, including new life habits you can reproduce at home. Vietnam is a developing country; most people’s priority is to make enough money to live decently, so they are not concerned by issues such as ‘protection of the environment’. Some of my classmates in Taiwan pick up garbage when we go hiking in the mountain or at the beach. Back in Vietnam I want to reproduce their behavior to influence maybe my friends and my family. A small circle of people can lead to a bigger impact.

6. How do you envision the importance of becoming a Chinese teacher?
Chinese is the language most spoken in Asia, so learning it is a way to step into this Asian speaking Chinese dynamic. On one hand, teaching Chinese is a way for me to participate into the reinforcement of the importance of Chinese in the world and in Asia. On the other hand I can help Vietnamese to learn mandarin and use it for traveling, studying, or working in Asia. Education is a way to open young Vietnamese to the world, and teaching them Chinese is giving them more possibilities to participate in a global Asian evolution.

7. Which issues are the most important to you in the development process of Asia?
On one side, ecological issues are crucial, but realistically achievable only if the country is developed. So, the most important thing for Vietnam is to focus on educating the population. People who have received an education understand better what problems development brings and be more concerned by these issues.
On the other side, I think we must not lose our national identity in a changing Asia. Vietnamese, as other Asians, can share their values and show their country is developing well. It is important to be proud of one’s country because diversity will allow Asia to grow stronger.

8. What kind of Asia do you dream of in twenty years from now?
As most Asians, I wish for a more unified and developed Asia which should also be concerned by ecological issues. Most of all, I wish for a better access to education for all, even for the people living in remote places. It is said that Vietnam is the Taiwan of 30 years ago, but with the help of a stronger united Asia, I expect it will take less time for Vietnam to make full use of its huge market and to develop the national economy.


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Monday, 19 November 2007 18:42

Youth's power can build Asian unity

1. In which circumstances, do you have a strong feeling of being Asian?
Up to now, I did not get a chance to travel to other Asian countries, so I have a deep Nepalese identity. However, through the associations I am participating in, I often meet Westerners and Asians in Nepal. I feel more comfortable among Asian groups, because we share many distinctive cultural values: a strong tie with the family, a societal bond, the same festival celebrations, and a similar way of thinking... We are often quite surprised by Non-Asians’ behaviors who easily kiss and hug. I got used to these particular social interactions, and accept them, but I can understand Asian people do not approve of it. In this sense, I identify myself to Asians and I feel Asian.

2. What does ‘being Asian’ mean to you? What does it involve?
In Nepal, during primary school teachers tell us we are Asians. Although I could define the geographic borders of Asia, at that time I had no idea about the signification of being Asian. Growing up, I learned that it means to be part of a bigger Nation with diversities among unity. I am sure this sense will keep growing as much as I will work with people from other Asian countries.
An Asian Union means Asians are ‘together’. It is a sweet word in itself. I can imagine the charm of the situation when all Asian countries unite for a single purpose of fighting global crisis. But, ‘being together’ also expresses difficulties. In the middle of such diversity among Asian nations (for example Japan and Nepal), solidarity and unity with equal responsibility and involvement is realistically difficult to achieve. However, I always believe it is never impossible to make things possible! Young Asians joining NGOs are a good example of Asians working together.

3. What do you think are the major challenges Asians should face together?
Sustainable development should be a major concern in most Asian countries. It is hardly achievable by a single undeveloped country like Nepal. Where there is no security of food and a place to live for the next few days, how can you not exploit natural resources? With no other option to hold the national income up, people as well as the government depend on the marginal benefit provided by its excessive exploitation. Hence, I think regional cooperation is undoubtedly needed! Support and technical enhancement from the regional unity during hard times are needed to achieve sustainable development. There are lots of cooperation programs being run in Nepal, especially with Japan. I have a good experience in working with young Japanese Oversees Volunteers. Similarly, India and China also provide help in sharing their resources and expertise with Nepal. I learned to know about environmental degradation and I started to feel my part of responsibility. So, now I am contributing in environmental protection organizations in Nepal.

4. You are working along with Taiwanese in an association providing education to 45 children who were deprived of education. Do you think better education can help Nepalese to be further integrated in Asian cooperation programs?
The community children’s school is situated in the remote part of West Nepal. As I am living in Katmandu, I cannot look after it all the time. My responsibility in this project is to raise funds to regulate the school, try to find ways to improve the infrastructure and the education pattern. For the development of a healthy Asian union, education for all Asians is undoubtedly needed. Hence, educating children has been one of my priorities. Nepalese have shown on many occasions that, with education, they can compete at the international level. Better education opportunities for Nepalese would make it easier for us to get integrated in cooperation programs.

5. You are very active in joining organizations helping to develop Nepal. Is it important for you to play a role in your country?
Nepal is going through a transitional phase after a twelve years long war, and is in a critical situation. New generations of Nepalese are rushing towards the United States and Europe to find better work opportunities. Consequently, brains and energies are draining out of the country. In the current situation, I feel the Nation needs me. So, along with my friends, I am doing what I can to help Nepal to develop further. It is important for me to play a role and at the same time encourage the youths to do the same.

6. The construction of an Asian Union is often seen as an economic trade agreement. How do you think diversities between Asian countries in economic growth can be overcome?
It is a challenge, but allocation of a definite role for each partner country and the sense of unity at the cooperation level among the countries can overcome the heterogeneity. I have always been convinced of the impact conveyed by one entity, but I believe a group has more power. Cooperation between associations should work with the intention to become mutually stronger. India’s help to Nepal is very important for our country, but it feels like there is a deep sense of domination from the Indian side. I do not like to focus on the economic development of a country while ruining all the other beautiful aspects, like moral and cultural values, brotherhood, cooperation and love. Cultural blending needs to be present, not enhancing only the economy, but all the other important aspects that are still missing up to now.

7. Does Nepal encounter difficulties from the Chinese side?
For the solidarity or unity among the Asian countries, for the sake of achievement of sustainable development, China’s way of dealing with this issue is certainly harmful. The hunger for the economic boost has made China forget about all other aspects of a sound development mechanism and of its components. But here, in Nepal, the government is not concerned with all of the wrongdoings that are going on. The excessively complicated national bureaucratic system has become a great challenge in introducing new concepts and carrying out our actions in Nepal.

8. What is the next step your country should take to be more integrated in an Asian Union?
Nepalese youths should create more networks in other Asian countries; work together and fight against common problems, share ideas and experiences, volunteer in associations… It is hard to involve or start things from the top level. So, what I see possible is youths from all over Asia working together and building a base for a cooperation program which will carry on growing thanks to the efforts of the people.

9. How do you envision Asia in twenty years from now?
I want to see a more homogeneous Asia in terms of development status, but diversified in its cultures and traditions as it is now. I want people to have a better sense of Asian Unity. I wish to see youths being regional citizens rather than local citizens and I would like to see them participating in new regional forums. It requires continuous efforts over twenty-five years at least, but it will modify today’s youths to be more responsible individuals. They will have more and more opportunities to take part in this process. Finally, I think it would provide a chance for all Nepalese to make a contribution to make their country a better place to live.


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