I have said before that the future of Việt Nam is in the good hands of its young people. This group of young people confirms my faith that Vietnamese youth have the motivation and intelligence to carry through the modernization of the economy started by Việt Nam's current generation of leaders.
I enjoy the fellowship of these young people. In exchange for leading this group in speaking English (not teaching, just conversation practice), they help disabuse me of inaccurate perceptions I may have gained about Vietnamese culture or society. We talk primarily about business topics, though, and they help me to understand the basics of Vietnamese business practices. Going around the table clockwise from the left, Hui is a software design engineer for a Japanese company, Hùng was an information technology technician for a Taiwanese company manufacturing for Nike in Vietnam, Sammy is a production planner for the same company, and Hao is an accountant for a Vietnamese trading company. I am the old guy whose 60th birthday they are celebrating in this Vietnamese restaurant. They all speak English fairly well -- they seek to improve their vocabulary and listening skills to help them advance in their careers.
Hùng has a new visa to emigrate to Canada to help care for his grandmother there. Many Vietnamese young people tell me they would love an opportunity to emigrate to Canada, the USA, or Australia, especially for educational opportunities. I try to tell them that the best opportunities are here right now in Việt Nam. But I can understand the desire for new experiences and perspectives -- that is why I came to Việt Nam at a rather inopportune time in its history thirty-four years ago.
Thanks to wife Hiền for organizing this surprise birthday party, and thanks to these good friends for their fellowship and gifts.