Foreign scholars honored local cultural award

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The 5th Annual Phan Chau Trinh Cultural Award ceremony held in Hanoi last week honored two foreigners whose destinies were inextricably linked to Vietnam.

French-Italian historian Alain Ruscio's 40 years of dedicated study of Vietnamese history has earned him the Phan Chau Trinh Award. The cultural award has been held annually since 2007, honoring individuals who have shown great devotion to Vietnamese culture.

Ruscio, an independent academic with a PhD in literature, heads the Center of Information and Documentation for contemporary Vietnam.

"I first came to Vietnam in 1978 as a reporter for L'Humanité. Although it was a tough era, all I saw was a proud people who incessantly fought for their freedom and rebuilt their country from heavy devastation," said Ruscio.

Ruscio said he spent the summer of 1980 traveling throughout Vietnam, leading to his book, "Vivre au Việt," which reflected his views on the country five years after it achieved national unity. At that time, Ruscio began considering Vietnam his second homeland.

In his speech at the ceremony, Ruscio called meeting the then Prime Minister Pham Van Dong and his idol, General Vo Nguyen Giap, on April 30, 1979, one of the highlights of his life.

Later, Ruscio received attention for his writings on French colonization of Southeast Asia, the Battle Dien Bien Phu, late President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Paven Pozner, born in 1945 in New York and returned to Russia in 1952, is one of very few experts at the Russian Scientific Academy's Oriental Institute who specializes in Vietnam.

Pozner was named a Phan Chau Trinh awardee for his six-part treatise on Vietnamese history, which covers the Hung kings era (over 2,000 years ago) through 2010. He was also recognized for introducing Vietnam's medieval history within French and Russian academic circles.

He said he and his colleagues recently finished preparing for the collection to be published in Russian next year, while an English version is set to come out in 2016.

Pozner said he appreciated the sincere help given to him by local people as he researched Vietnam and that only after his work is published will he deserve the honor.

Other 2012 Phan Chau Trinh Award winners were noted Professor Tran Van Khe, literary authority Nguyen Thach Giang, translator Nguyen Van Khoa and municipal secretary of Hoi An Town, Nguyen Su.

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