E-mail to Mom 3.3.2004

Hello Mom! 

I received the jacket yesterday and it is beautiful!  Thank you so much!  It is extremely nice. 

Now let me get to all those questions. 

I would like to work there simply because I feel happy there.  I could do anything there and still be happy.  The reason is a feeling of being relaxation, and people going on with their lives without the troubles the rich countries have.  I feel as if I’m always being judged in the rich countries based on material things.  In Vietnam, people are curious about me and if I smile at them I will always get a smile in return.  Therefore, I can open myself up completely to everyone which I cannot do in America, nor Japan.  It’s a wonderful feeling.  

As for the language, I can learn it on my own time.  Japanese is extremely hard because I cannot read many of the symbols and the pronunciation keeps changing.  It really is an arduous task to learn Japanese.  Yet in Vietnamese they use the roman alphabet.  I’m sure I can learn the conversational style easily.  I’m also not worried about it because many people speak English.  Since the Americans were there for so long a large portion of the older generation speaks a little.  The school age children also learn English very very well.  It’s very strange that even the poor speak a good bit of English.  The portion of Vietnamese that fought with the Americans are not allowed to own property and were relocated to the countryside.  They snuck back into the city but cannot own land.  Therefore they are poor, yet have retained their English skills. 

I don’t know if H will be able to adapt there, but it’s something where we’ll just have to wait and see and let it play itself out as it will.  

As for jobs, the market is booming.  There are jobs anywhere and I could always fall back on English teaching if need be.  I’m 90% confident I can find a good job in business however, especially with the connections I’ve made.  

H is coming with me on vacation.  I’m excited to bring her to hang out with the family some more.  

As for the pictures: 

I’m not sure if the church is Catholic or not.  I’m going to guess that it is, but the government still puts a lot of restrictions on the clergy there.  Proselytizing is still not allowed.  

The war museum was modest, not big at all.  It was done in a tasteful way and the disparaging of Americans isn’t overdone.  However, there are many pictures that will completely shock as well as some exhibits.  The worst picture I saw was of a GI holding up some mangled mass of parts after the VC had been hit with a shell and smiling.  The other shocking pictures were of groups of civilians that were unarmed and had a huge amount of fear in their eyes and after the picture was taken were all killed.  As we all know the war got very messy and I’m glad the American Army has taken many steps to stop this in the current war.  Finally there is the exhibit of children still being born looking like monsters do to Agent Orange.  There are also two babies that died shortly after birth that are kept in a jar in liquid.  It was quite disturbing.  

The “traps” were part of Cu Chi which is the famous underground tunnels about an hour or two outside of Saigon.  We went through some tunnels widened for tourists and they explained how the traps worked.  I could just imagine the fear of the poor soldiers who had to venture into that area.  The Americans didn’t know about the tunnels and built a base right on top of the enormous network.  They couldn’t figure out how they were getting killed in their tents as they slept.  Also, to be walking through there and having the enemy pop out of no where, then running and falling into a booby trap must have been horrendous for the soldiers.  

We really didn’t spent too much time visiting the war exhibits, but instead were able to go out into the poor villages and meet the wonderful people.  The picture with the children are kids who wanted us to pay money so we could slide down the sand dunes.  We bought them all cokes and had them sit down with us.  They are truly wonderful. 

Some people can speak French, but most people speak English.  

The food is now my favorite.  The lobster, crab and shrimp are huge and extremely cheap.  The strange things I ate were mouse and eel.  The mouse eat rice only in the paddies and were very good.  The eel was ok.  I didn’t try snake but I would if I had the opportunity.  

On the beach, there was a bit of trash and many dead animals.  The poor villages lack a trash collection system so the ocean serves as such.  But it isn’t very dirty since they do not produce much trash.  But when an animal dies, it is put in the ocean.  We saw quite a few dead animals on the beach.  In the picture is a cat.  

The friend I was with is in an International MBA program from South Carolina.  He studies at Waseda with me.  I did get sunburned quite a bit and now have a good tan as a result.  I’ll give you a call soon!

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/