Sunday, January 8, 2017

Labor law, English Zone, Tea Time, and Pageantry 

January 6, 2017

Today began with soccer for some students, jet-lag recovery for others- I admit I was among those who skipped the 7:00 am scrimmage. We all gathered together at 9:00 am, however, for a class session covering Vietnamese labor law. We were joined by TDTU Professor Triet, and one of the wonderful students, Nghia, served as a translator. We discussed how Vietnamese labor law is just part of the common law code, as opposed to our separate system in the US, and focused on health and safety in the garment industry as well as some of the details regarding layoffs, the rights and responsibilities of the union, and wages and benefits. Mr. Triet had experience working in the steel industry and construction, and it was great to be able to engage with TDT faculty. We went to the cantine again for lunch, and managed to order on our own (a big accomplishment, at least in our eyes, given our lack of Vietnemse language skills). 

Meeting with Mr. Triet
In the afternoon we went back to the English Zone. The students knew we were planning on stopping by, so after chatting for a bit with students studying English, international business, and even electrical engineering, we all played a game together. The team Julissa and I were on, “Beauty Team,” had a bit of a competitive streak as we battled with the others to correctly identify the name of a song a player would draw out, Pictionary-style, on a whiteboard- bonus points if you could sing it! Sadly, Clara’s team wasn’t quite as skilled and she received the punishment of eating a durian candy (pictures below)!
At the English Zone
Clara trying Durian Candy
We then headed downtown to meet up with some Vietnamese students who go to Cornell, who were in the city for the afternoon. We went to a really lovely teahouse in district one.

Tea with other Cornellians
We then returned to campus for the TDT Beauty Pageant. We were expecting a small affair, but this was a serious, high-production value spectacle to rival Miss America. Earlier rounds had narrowed the contestants to 10 women and 10 men, who showed off beautifully painted and beaded ao dais and performed dances and sang a mix of Vietnamese and Western songs. It was really fascinating to see a different side of the youth culture. We couldn’t really imagine a similar event happening at Cornell, so it made for an exciting evening! 
TDTU Beauty Pageant

TDTU Beauty Pageant
We ended the day at a fantastic vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in District 3, sharing dishes like house-made tofu, spicy mushrooms, hot pot, and pineapple fried rice. Overall, it was another invigorating, fascinating day in Ho Chi Minh City, and we can’t wait to see what’s next. - Allison 

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