At a recent Capstone StudyGlobal Education Fair, I spoke with two girls who asked for recommendations about where to study. Both were high school students, one in the 10th grade and the other in the 11th. Their initial focus was on the US but, after further discussion, they said they were willing to study anywhere as long as there was the possibility of long-term employment and emigration. Other countries with a clear pathway to post-graduation employment and, in some cases, permanent resident status and ultimately citizenship came to mind such as Canada, Finland, and Ireland.
This is not a new story. It’s always struck me as ironic, but not surprising. Here I am, a foreigner who has made Vietnam his home for nearly 18 years, knowing there are Vietnamese who think the grass is greener elsewhere. Maybe it is, depending upon their situation, effort, and luck. This is certainly the case for many young Vietnamese who spend enormous amounts of their families’ money and/or borrowed money to go overseas for study/work opportunities and, in more than few cases, illegal emigration.
As is often the case, however, perception can diverge from reality. I don’t know what their life is like, but I do know what they’ve heard from friends and online sources of (mis)information.
The main difference between me and them is privilege. For them, maybe overseas study and eventual emigration is the path to a better life. It’s simply a matter of choosing carefully and mapping out a realistic plan. It’s ultimately a personal decision that people should make based on accurate information.
In FY 2022, which ended on 30 September 2022, 22,573 Vietnamese and their family members received immigrant visas to relocate to the US, a drop in the bucket in a population of 100 million. Most are from central and southern Vietnam with family ties in the Vietnamese diaspora, the result of the war and post-war emigration.
On the other hand, there are more young overseas Vietnamese who are moving to Vietnam to pursue professional opportunities. Some of their parents, who emigrated to the US, are following in their footsteps or will do so after retirement.
Shalom (שלום), MAA