Vietnamese culture and experience have evident distinctions from the American cultural environment in terms of history, perception, philosophy of life, and religion. Many historical periods reveals different encounters and challenges that Vietnamese people should overcome on the way to freedom and independence.
While through different historical documents and fictional novels – discussing the events of the mid 1960s and analyzing the fiction literature of the nineteenth century, it is possible to track the most important events happened in Vietnam, as well as define the main differences and peculiarities between the above-identified cultural identities.
Thus, the readings reveal that Vietnamese people have deep affiliation to Chinese traditions, particularly to Confucian ideology. They have also provided me with a better picture of how American and Vietnamese experiences are related.
In the second half of the past century, the American and Vietnamese experiences crossed in the Cold War lasting for more than two decades. During this confrontation, both Americans and Vietnamese had to adjust to each to other customs and traditions to survive. At this time, Vietnamese people were facing significant challenges because of the discriminative policies held by both military parts, one of which was supported by the Americans (Halberstam 38).
Difficulties were experience both the American people fighting in Vietnam and the civil people – the residents of Vietnam. Though the experience exchange had negative consequences for both rivals, their cultural experiences were also related.
The aspiration for Vietnamese people to struggle for freedom, as well as their extreme commitment to their country and traditions is brightly revealed in the diary written by a young doctor Dang Thuy Tram. A twenty-seven-year old woman was killed by American military forces during the Vietnam conflict. The diary can be regarded as a prism through it was possible to learn much about the devotion of the Vietnamese people to their families and friends, as well as experience horrors and pain of the war.
Their dedication to freedom and desire to reach independence are at the core of the Vietnamese cultural and ethnical identity. At this point, Tram writes, “Oh, my dearest ones in this land of Duc Pho, can anyone see my heart? The heart of a lonely girl filled with unanswered hopes and dreams” (7). Emotionally colored and intensified, the diary fully conveys the hardships of those times.
Struggles for freedom and social pressure are also similarly discussed in the eighteen century novel called Tale of Kieu written by Ngueyn Du. The story is closely associated with a classical Chinese period and reveals a difficult situation, as well as the role and place of women in society.
Because, the novel is under the influence of Confucian philosophy, the author portrays the main heroine who has to sacrifice herself for the sake of other people she loves (Du, 16). Overall, the novel underscores the ideas of self-sacrifice and honor as the priority that the Vietnamese culture is based on.
With regard to the reading, it is possible to make several important conclusions. From social and cultural perspective, the Vietnamese people had to overcome a great number of constraints on the way to independence and recognition. They prioritize the value of price, honor, and respect for their traditions and customs. Finally, the historic events in the mid 1960 disclose the peculiarities of social and economic conditions in the country.
Du, Nguyen. The Tale Of Kieu, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.
Halberstam, David. The Making of a Quagmire. New York: Knopf, 1988. Print.
Tram, Dang Thuy, Last Night I Dreamed Of Peace. Pham. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007. Print.