Ambassadors share joys for Tet
With Tet (the Lunar New Year holiday) arriving, Canadian, Cuban, Indian, Norwegian, French and New Zealand ambassadors to Vietnam told about their excitement and their plans for the year ahead.
Indian Ambassador Sandeep Arya
Tet is a very important festival.
I think in India, for example, and I see a little bit of that in Vietnam, it is an occasion to rejuvenate your spirit, to bring hope in life and think about the future.
And therefore it brings optimism, hope and positivity for the future. I think that is the significance in India and I see similar sentiments on the occasion of Tet in Vietnam.
When you are looking at happiness, hope and optimism and positivity for the future you try to do it in a manner together with a family, learning and praying to your ancestors thinking about God, visiting pagoda, and I think just trying to be cheerful, l and a little bit in India, also there is a tradition of resolving to do some better next year.
We are therefore looking at 2024, to be even more positive here to have high-level engagements to make progress in different areas. Economic cooperation depends on security, cooperation, cultural cooperation, and science. It's impossible not to be full of energy and optimism for the year 2024, and we will do so much more between the two countries.
I have, of course, a little bit of a personal life in terms of my family, my wife and two sons, my brother, sister, and parents. So, there is some sentiment on that side of it, you know, in terms of what you wish for, when you come and pray, you try to also seek blessings or your well-being and progress in the new year in terms of everybody in the family. You say a few words and wish for those things, etc. That's one sentiment.
The second is from the perspective of the relationship. In a new year, it's customary in our office to also look at what we did and what we have achieved.
And what we want to do in the India-Vietnam relationship as part of our planning for the year is pretty cool. In our calendar for the bilateral relationship and in our exchanges with the Government of India in Delhi, we try to exchange notes on what we have done, what we can do more, and what we need to do, so we make some plans for all of this.
Canadian Ambassador Shawn Steil
Tet is one of my favourite times of year in Vietnam because it's got such a festive spirit.
The streets get so busy with everyone. You can see the flowers or the kumquat trees being moved around the city, people are out shopping, and the lights come on. So it's a really lively time of year, which I enjoy.
It's got many similarities to the way that we celebrate the New Year in Canada. In Canada, many people also celebrate Tet.
So we have some familiarity with that. It's a time for hope, to think of a better year and exciting things to come.
And that energy that comes with that time of year. That spirit of a new start is exciting.
I think we saw so many good things to celebrate with Canada in Vietnam last year.
A highlight for me was in August, when we celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations with a big festive party and a chance to get together with so many people who have been a partner for Canada in Vietnam, and bring them all together in one space to celebrate. That was a highlight for me in 2023.
We also had some good visits, such as our Minister for International Development visiting with our Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Any time that we have a guest from Canada, I have the chance as ambassador to show them Vietnam, and I'm always so proud to show them. So we had a great year to do many things like that in 2023.
I expect even more this new year. I think as we're coming out of the pandemic period, we had a chance to celebrate 50 years. The prospects for this year are even brighter.
We have a trade mission plan. We have another minister's visit planned. So already at the beginning of the year, we can see all kinds of activities lined up. And I'm very confident that we'll see an even brighter year between Canada and Vietnam this year.
I wish for everyone in Vietnam to be happy, and healthy, and to have the time to rest. I know that so many people work so hard in this country. With an economy that's growing so fast, and people working very hard.
I hope that Tet gives everyone a chance to slow down a little bit, to reconnect with their family and their friends. And to look at all the wonderful blessings they have.
For her part Ambassador Steil's spouse, Jean Glaister Steil, says: It's a great time with family with special foods and just a really special time of year, sometimes with pupils. It just feels like a special time.
So I don't think that we should be more busy during Tet. Sometimes this happens when it's a special time, and means it's a little bit different for everybody, sometimes with special foods and things. You look to people who you know. You may look to your parents and grandparents who know the traditions. You may be teaching children, so really it's busy.
Cuban Ambassador O. H. Guillén
Tet is a special celebration in the country. Though Vietnamese people have experienced very difficult periods, they continue this tradition. This is when people in the family gather to enjoy the festival and prepare well for that. This is also when we can see the present socioeconomic situation in Vietnam.
In the last year, there were many high-ranking delegation exchanges between the two countries. We will further enhance the traditional brotherhood between the two countries and find out the way to push bilateral trade exchanges as well as solve problems in the field resulting from the US’s multi-decade-long embargo of Cuba.
In Cuba’s plan to recover macroeconomic indexes, Vietnam takes an important role. We will try to further promote Cuba’s products in Vietnam.
On this occasion, I wish that Vietnam News readers are healthy, successful, and happy. Please continue to engage as readers in both online and print versions.
Norwegian Ambassador H. Solbakken
I really enjoy Tet. I mean, just feeling the excitement that's building up in the weeks ahead. Everybody's rushing around getting the kumquat trees or peach blossoms.
Also, I think a lot of the hard work, maybe especially for the women who have to prepare all these special dishes and clean the houses and all of this. Yes, I think it's wonderful.
And I like the fact that it's so family-oriented. So it's everybody coming together, going to visit also older parents and siblings and so on. If they live somewhere else, it's very lovely. So for me as well, it's good to do Tet with my family. So, this year, we're going to try to travel and see new parts of Vietnam we haven't been to before.
It will be a time to calm down, relax, and see a beautiful place. We also learn about the history of that very special life.
One of the things that I'm most excited about that, I hope, will come to fruition in 2024 is cooperation that we have inked on both climate and the reduction of plastic pollution. Therefore, we are contributing Norwegian technology to Vietnam, which makes it possible to use non-recyclable plastic instead of coal as fuel in the cement industry.
So, that in itself will be a huge advantage in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as the Vietnamese cement industry is the third-biggest exporter in the world and accounts for something like 22% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Vietnam.
So, if you can take away all the coal, and instead use non-recyclable plastics as fuel, it would be a big win-win.
And then we're trying to connect that to work that we're doing to reduce plastic waste. We worked, for example, with craft villages where they collect a lot of plastic, so they take out the plastic that can be recycled. And, the plastic that we can't recycle, well, we're trying to then turn that over to the cement factories instead.
So, we are really connecting all the dots in this whole value chain.
French Ambassador Olivier Brochet
The Tet atmosphere in Hanoi reminds me of the bustling year-end days in France when all families are busy preparing decoration things, gifts and pines inside houses. Such Tet days make me remember the festive season in my home.
People here don’t use pine trees to decorate, but they use other kinds of beautiful plants like peach blossoms and kumquat, which create joy in spring. I’m happy to welcome my first Tet in Hanoi.
I have had chances to explore the customs of Vietnamese people, especially the dedication to teachers. Before becoming a diplomat, I used to work as a teacher. Before taking the post as a French ambassador in Hanoi, I worked as a director of the French school system overseas. That’s why I’m moved by this tradition of Vietnamese people. There is a Teacher’s Day in autumn when students thank their teachers.
During the three first days of the Lunar New Year, people visit teachers on the third day, which is a wonderful custom.
Some 8,000 French people are living and working in Vietnam, mostly in Hanoi and HCM City. Most of them have been spending a long time here, and many have married to Vietnamese people.
I’m sure they are really happy here. Many have been living here for 20 to 30 years. Some of them even have Vietnamese nationality. French people living in Việt Nam or Vietnamese people living in France are bridges between the two countries and our cultures.
The 50th diplomatic relations anniversary was an opportunity for us to enhance our friendship. There were many activities and events taking place, especially in the cultural field.
Hue by Light, the final event of the series taking place at the end of December was a success. Around 20,000 people came to enjoy the show. There have also been many high-ranking visits and meetings by French representatives to Vietnam and vice versa, aiming to boost cooperation agreements.
The Vietnamese embassy in France has shown its active role in hosting such meetings, especially in the meeting between the French President and Vietnamese Party General Secretary in October, which once more confirmed the tight relationship between both countries.
From this foundation, the two sides decided to implement various programmes and set up new cooperation in 2024 to promote the strategic partnership in the future, as President Macron confirmed.
New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam Tredene Dobson (until January 25, 2024)
As the New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam for the past three years, I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel throughout this beautiful country and meet a lot of incredible Vietnamese individuals.
In New Zealand, we have a te reo Māori (our indigenous language) proverb that really resonates with me: "He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata," which translates to "What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people."
I firmly believe that the people of Vietnam are a “taonga”, or precious treasure. They are not only incredibly friendly and intelligent but also hard working and so committed to the development of this country. You can see this in the remarkable economic growth and development of this country.
In just one generation, Vietnam has transformed itself from being one of the world's poorest nations to an emerging middle-income country. This achievement speaks volumes about the collective efforts and dedication of the Vietnamese government and its people towards building a better future.
As the Lunar New Year approaches, I hope that Vietnam will experience another successful year, where all individuals can benefit from the country's progress, to which each and every one of them has contributed in their respective roles.
Regrettably, this year I will not be able to celebrate Tet in Vietnam like the past two years. I will undoubtedly miss the warmth, love, and sense of connectivity during Tet, particularly seeing families come together at this special time of year. This is very similar to the spirit of Matariki – the lunar New Year of the Maori people, which is also a special time in New Zealand.
During my time in Vietnam, I have had the pleasure of experiencing Tet traditions firsthand. I have learned about various customs from my colleagues at the Embassy, and I must admit that a particular highlight for me is the incredible food. So I've really made a big effort to try all of the Tet foods.
I particularly like sticky rice, mâm ngũ quả (fruit tray), chicken and some of the pork dishes. Most of the dishes that are prepared during Tết, I had never tasted before I came to Vietmam.
Another thing that I like about Tết is the tranquility of Hanoi during this time. It’s a great opportunity for me to embrace a slower pace of life, get around and explore Hanoi more.
I know that in Vietnamese culture, Dragon represents strength, power and prosperity. I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous Year of the Dragon. I hope whoever and wherever you are, you can come home and celebrate Tet with your family, to reflect on the past, appreciate what you have in the present and to plan for the future. And I hope for Vietnam, that future includes an even closer relationship with New Zealand. Chúc Mừng Năm Mới, everyone!