Tag Archives: Vietnam

My Vietnam Updates, Research Progress, etc.

23 Feb

The truth is that whenever I’m walking on the street, waiting for the bus that makes me wait half an hour every time, or sitting in my cubicle, I have so many stories to tell and I structure them all in my head on how I’m going to deliver them on my glorious blog. But the other truth is that by the time I get back home, which takes about an hour everyday, I’m usually pretty exhausted (probably from the commute, weather, polluted air, busy-ness of the city) and all I want to do is watch numerous TV shows and go to bed, not even reading or writing in my personal journal. Yes, I’m embodying the pure laziness that anybody can possibly embody and express, but the saturated fatigue that I’m going through recently can perhaps only be cured by… I don’t know, whatever the opposit thing of what I’m doing right now.

The internship is interesting, but I won’t comment on it too much. It’s been mostly office-based research work, and the real exciting part that involves fieldwork and more active research will come in 2 weeks or so (early March, yipes!), so I can probably give you more views into my work then. My particular section (out of 5 sections at UNICEF Vietnam) is called Provincial Child-Friendly Program, and I’m given the responsibilities to migration studies in the South (around Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces) and other work that involves minority children’s welfare in Vietnam. What I can tell you is that now I feel like I know my way around at work and see several familiar faces here and there. The thing is that I find Vietnamese people initially quite shy, and being a closet introvert (wait, WHO is this introverted person am I talking about…?!?), I find it a bit difficult to reach out first. But all in all, I find my section people quite lovely, and I only wish that I spoke some Vietnamese so that I can connect with them better. My anthropologist self is telling me that I should reach out and “go native” in a way, but the thing is that I somehow find it very difficult to do so, which was never the case in any other countries besides my native Korea. So strange, but I guess there are a lot of similarities that I find between the two countries, at least culturally. I don’t want to be invasive either, so I mostly tend to mind my own business, fixed into my computer. I just let what may come to come in right time. But I sincerely hope that by the time  I finish my internship, I’ll have developed a great deal of trust and rapport with my section people as well.

To those of you who are curious, yes, I’m working on my PAE (thesis) research as well. The topic would be on sex-ratio at birth imbalance in Vietnam, and it was suggested my supervisor, as he knew that I was really into gender issues.  It doesn’t have much to do with my section’s work per se, but I find it quite interesting. A week ago, by (very lucky) accident, I got in touch with a gender specialist within UNICEF, and she invited me to tag along to Gender Program Coordination Group Annual Meeting. Gender PCG is a collaboration of different policy/political/legal stakeholders in Vietnam, from NGO advocates to UN officers to the Communist Party members to Ministry specialists. It was a half-day meeting and people from various groups presented the evaluation of last years work and the coming year’s agenda. What was repetitively emphasized was the SRB imbalance issue which, apparently, hasn’t been touched upon very much. To give you a brief view, the SRB of Vietnam is around 110-112 boys for every 100 girls, while some provinces have over 120 boys. China, for example, has 120 national average, while some provinces rating 130+ boys. Similar phenomenon in India and South Korea, although the latter is in the process of normalizing with 106-7 boys (it used to have the worst imbalance during the 80s and the 90s). Anyhow, it’s a fascinating topic, and UNFPA Vietnam has done quite an extensive research work, so look into it if you’re interested.

As far as my life in general… hmmm, I should say it’s rather mundane. As I said earlier, I get exhausted so easily by the end of the day, so doing anything during the week seems impossible for me at this point. Maybe the city is too overwhelming to take it in within such a short period. I’m trying to take a deep breath and enjoy it, even the weather that I complain about all the time. After all, I do enjoy challenges :). Will keep you updated.

I’m fascinated by all the articles on what is happening in the Middle East. Hope that things will lead to the better result for the people (democracy!). Will try to give you my thoughts on that as well sometime soon. Ciao!