Time and change


Arnaldo in Hanoi. Today I attended a workshop where I heard something that made me think. It is now two months that I started my work here in Hanoi and I am still in the process of understanding the structure, currents, streams of my working environment. A work environment which, as the whole society, is under the influence of two main forces: State and Party. All this is new to me. To be in the mid of it, rather than an external observer. An observer from abroad. During today’s meeting one comment came from a Vietnamese participant concerning the exposition at Ha Noi ethnology museum on the life in Ha Noi during the transition period, after the American-Vietnamese war. He told about his feelings visiting that exposition, and the memories of that time. He said how unreal it seemed to him the hardship of that time, the challenges of the everyday life compared to today.
Vietnam has come a long way since then. And though there are still problems, transition and development are proceeding steadily. New challenges will come through development itself. Criticism from abroad tend to focus on the fact that this is still a one Party country, that freedom of speech is limited, and that the human right record can be improved. However, during the workshop I started to think about how development has taken place and poverty has been reduced and the careful moves by the government in order to avoid serious social conflicts along the process of transformation. The result is that looking back at 20-25 years ago the hardships of the past seems more distant then it actually is. This may show that the careful steps taken by the government have avoided the social costs that have emerged from the establishment of a casino economy in other socialist countries. My learning process continues…