Many overseas Vietnamese living in Australia have written in to Thanh Nien, expressing their emotions after watching the opening performance of the Charming Vietnam Gala October 31 in Canberra.
Reproduced below is one of them:
Legend has it that all Vietnamese were born from the same mother, Au Co, who laid 100 eggs, from which 100 persons came out. Half of them went up to the jungle while the rest down into the sea. But wherever they are, they remain siblings forever…
It’s half past 11 now. I’m just back from the first Charming Vietnam [Duyen Dang Vietnam] performance, overwhelmed by emotion. I cannot help jotting down my feelings which are pouring out…
Elation and admiration are running in my veins. I lost [myself] in the world of traditional and pop music and ao dai [traditional Vietnamese women’s costume], which I have not heard or seen for ages… I was like a hungry child who had found its mother’s teat. Filled with pride, I would like to say to the Chinese lady and the Australian man sitting next to me that they were lucky to enjoy [the] well-prepared feast of Vietnamese culture.
It seems it was not only I who had such feelings. I saw the whole audience stayed on, giving thunderous ovations even after the show ended, their eyes and smiles filled with pride, trust, and admiration.
However, enormous disappointment, frustration, and anguish are tormenting me. It extinguishes the exultation of the child who has just found its mother’s teat and forces an adult’s thoughts in me. I realize it is the voice of a Vietnamese deep inside my heart:
My dear compatriots who were among those demonstrating outside the Canberra Theater this afternoon.
I’m one of those whom you stopped and said: ‘Go home now, what’s the point in watching such things? What a disgrace!’ Some even thrust a camera close to my face. Please give me an explanation for hurling such insults at your own compatriots and invasions of their privacy.
Why should I be ashamed to watch a program which features music, culture and traditional costume from my home country? Why should I feel humiliated when supporting my country’s promotion of culture and music abroad so that people around the world see the new images, not just the devastation from the war 30 years ago? It is a task worth the effort of all Vietnamese, isn’t it?
While the artists and organizers traveled such a long distance and made every effort to help Australians appreciate Vietnam’s cultural identity more, you were displaying to foreigners images of a divisive Vietnam and its extreme, riotous nature. Even the Aborigines did not act so when they clashed with the Australian government. You also committed such shameful acts as scratching spectators’ cars and threatening restaurants which served the performers.
I did not feel ashamed about joining the show, but I felt disgraced by your actions. Peter Slipper, chair of the Vietnam-Australia Friendship Senators Association stressed in his speech he felt sorry about those who voiced their different political views violently. He believed we are lucky to live in an era in which all differences can be reconciled and all disputes settled. Only short-sighted people behave that way.
I don’t think what I’m writing is political. I simply articulate what my peers and I think. I was born and grew up in Vietnam and have been looking for opportunities to succeed in an overseas working environment. Some of my friends came here [Australia] when they were young, some were born here and do not speak fluent Vietnamese. But what we have in common is we were born after the war ended and all wish to help Vietnam catch up with the world.
For us, Vietnam has no internal borders or different political regimes. We understand all nations have their own agonies. Our country has already suffered a great deal from the war; so what is the point in further aggravating its wounds, preventing it from making up for the wasted wartime years and catching up with the rest of the world?
I really hope we will put aside all our pains and past feuds to turn over a new page to create a thriving country, because we all were born to the same mother, Au Co. Wherever we are, we will always remain brothers and sisters.
I’ll keep praying and hoping for that.