What is Vietnam to you?

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Paradise vacation spot, a promising business market, the living ground... These are several terms that may associate with Vietnam for some people. As for me, Vietnam is the land of milk and honey for I was able to find opportunities and perspectives that changed my life and future visions. Not only did I earn unique skills and experiences that founded my future but also discovered my prospective goal to become an International Sports Administrative Diplomat in Vietnam.

Not long ago, I volunteered to teach Korean as one of the student assistants at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. When I asked my group of students why they were so eager to learn Korean, they told me that they eventually want to go to Korea to explore more options and prosperity. This "Korean Dream" of theirs is probably triggered by Korean companies in Vietnam which reflect and advertise Korea as "the land of opportunities" along with the K-pop boom and Korean dramas in Vietnam.

I was shocked to see that they believed the country I came from is "the land of opportunities" because, on the contrary, I felt the same way about the land they were living in.

It surely wasn't easy for my family to first emigrate from South Korea to Vietnam six years ago when I was twelve years old. Everything was different"”the language, climate, food, neighborhood, social standards, cultures, lifestyles"¦ My family had to make small and large changes in our lives in order to adjust to Vietnam. What changed the most were my school and education system.

Even apart from schools, exposure to various cultures and people in Vietnam has taught me how to accept and respect the differences between people. Particularly from the Vietnamese people, I learned: how to be open-minded and kind to strangers; be humble with myself; diligent; and the indomitable spirit to make the most out of the worst. I know that these are the values that cannot be taught by books or anywhere else; for that I'm truly grateful to Vietnam for nurturing me with a pool of challenges from new cultures and languages.

I would describe Vietnam as my milestone, supporting ground, teacher, and initial point into the world. So I now dare ask those in Vietnam, what is Vietnam to you?

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