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Submitted by ctv_en_4 on Fri, 02/16/2007 - 23:45
For Vietnamese people, the traditional Lunar New Year Festival (Tet) is the biggest of the year as it marks the start of a busy new year. For foreigners who have been living in Vietnam for years or those who have just arrived have their earnest desire to enjoy the Tet atmosphere together with local people. Let’s explore their plans with VOVNews reporters.

Thomas Leckinger, chief representative of the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation (VVAF), recalled that he had heard about Tet in Vietnam during his involvement in the Vietnam War in 1970, but had no chance to enjoy its flavour. This is the first time he has celebrated Tet holiday in the country.

“This was an extraordinary year for me as it is not only my first Tet in Vietnam but it’s the end of my first working year as a country representative for VVAF. I am happy to be here. I cannot think of any place in the world that I would rather be right now than here. …I may take a couple of days off. Maybe I will go around Hanoi and watch the Hanoiains celebrate Tet.”

Thomas Leckinger
He said he is happy to return to Vietnam to live and work. He expressed his belief that 2007 will be a promising year for Vietnam, particularly after the country joined the World Trade Organisation and the US approved Permanent Normal Trade Relation status with Vietnam. He quoted many investors as saying that it is the ripe time to do business in Vietnam and that such a dynamic economy like Vietnam will certainly further develop in the near future.

He recalled his recent working visit to southern Dong Nai province where VVAF and local organisations joined hands to build a house for disadvantaged family to welcome the Tet holiday. Three out of the five family members were disabled. He said he was happy to do something to help Vietnamese people heal the war wounds during peacetime.

I would hope that my country could begin to realize peace that Vietnam has realized since the war. I would hope for ever extended and increasingly strong ties between the United States and Vietnam. On my wall, I have three documents, including the US Declaration of Independence and the Vietnamese Declaration. I want people to read these documents to understand how close American and Vietnamese people are.

On the New Year’s Eve, he hoped Vietnam’s economy will continue to develop steadily and local people, especially the unfortunate, will enjoy a better life. 

Ông Chuck Searcy
Chuck Searcy in an interview with VOVNews reporters
Unlike Leckinger, Chuck Searcy, who has been living and working in Vietnam for nearly 11 years, said he has experienced nine Tet holidays in Vietnam so he clearly understands the ins and outs of the country’s biggest festival of the year.  

“Tet in Vietnam is very special for the Vietnamese, especially for children. It brings up a very good feeling amongst everybody. It is a very nice time of the year and a very hopeful time when people try to put worries and problems away and optimistically look at the good things in the future. What has impressed me most is just the warmth and generosity of friends and family together.”

He said it takes foreigners a short time to understand Tet and to realise why the Vietnamese enjoy the holiday so much.

“In the US, we have Christmas, New Year and other holidays, but they are a little bit different. It is a very nice holiday with special characteristics in Vietnam that are not found in any other country. This year, I will fly to central Quang Tri province to enjoy the Tet atmosphere with some of my friends. And but, by the way, I would like to extend my greetings Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year) to all of you,” said Mr Searcy.

Rodger Hyland, a New Zealander, who works for humanitarian programmes in Vietnam, said he has enjoyed Tet atmosphere in Vietnam three times, but this is the first time he has spent the holiday in Hanoi.

“It is a personal time for family life when family members sit together and remember their ancestors. Your Tet organisation is something we do not have in New Zealand and I really admire Vietnamese people for that.”  

Two years ago, he had a chance to go to the northern mountainous resort of Sa Pa for a four-day Tet holiday. Everything there was wonderful and he spent most of the time exploring the scenery. But this time he decided to enjoy the Tet atmosphere in Hanoi as he had received a lot of invitations.

“Like anyone else in Hanoi, I will walk around some places, meet people and have smiles on my face, and as usual I will spend time visiting unfortunate people such as street kids and disabled people.” 

Those who came and stayed in Vietnam during the Tet holiday for the first time said they want to see with their own eyes what Tet is, though they had heard about it before they came.

Gia đình anh Robert Brurley
Robert Brurley and his family
Robert Brurley, a Canadian citizen, and his wife arrived in Vietnam six months ago. They are both working for a diplomatic corps in Hanoi. They said that they are longing for the first Tet holiday in Vietnam.

“I think Tet in Vietnam is something similar to Christmas or New Year celebration in Canada, but for me it is special because this is the first time my family has a chance to celebrate it in Vietnam,” said Brurley. “Though I have been living in Vietnam for six months, I know that Tet is an important festival for Vietnamese people. This is the time for family reunions to welcome the new year. The adults will relax after a hard working year and children will get new clothes and stay away from school lessons. I also bought new clothes for my children to show off during this Tet.”

On New Year’s Eve, Vietnamese people recall what they have done and not done in the past year and wish good luck in the New Year. Brurley wished he and his family members good health, happiness and success in their work, and he also extended New Year greetings to all Vietnamese people.

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