Week 4 Reflection
This week’s presentation about politics was separated into three topics: Amerasians, the government of Vietnam’s flexibility, and Vietnam’s economic relationship with China. I thought that the presentation was hastily put together and thus not cohesive. The presenters clearly worked on their presentation last minute and separately. The first presenter used his written notes to present while the other two group members used the same power point. The style of power point was divided as half of the slides were very information-rich in short phrases while the other half was sparse but had very dense blocks of text that were nearly too small to read.
The first third of the presentation was about Amerasians and how they are unwanted in both the Vietnam and the U.S. In Vietnam, Amerasian children are discriminated against because they are a constant reminder that the U.S. abandoned South Vietnam, using it only as a proxy to fight against the Soviet Union in the Cold War and that South Vietnam had fallen to North Vietnam shortly after the U.S. had left in 1973. These children are seen as the children of raped Vietnamese women who thus became collateral of war where the American soldiers used sex as a weapon to remind the Vietnamese of their inferiority of and dependency on the U.S. With the onset of the Vietnam syndrome, the Amerasian children were a reminder that the U.S. came to a “lesser” country to act as the war hero in the civil war and was not able to successfully win the war. Su-Je Lee Gage states in his article that the U.S. did not foresee this issue upon joining the war but addressed it by creating an image of the U.S. as the humanitarian who would adopt these unwanted children from a fallen Vietnam that rejected them for moral reasons. This “humanitarian effort” greatly appealed to the American public who supported this “solution” to the “Amerasian issue”. These children were still discriminated against in the U.S. and were raised to be White American without roots in Asia. One question I would ask the presenters is how does the American public perceive other children born from the same circumstances as Amerasians and are they treated similarly today?
The second presentation was about the superficiality of the Vietnamese government, specifically how it is seen as rigid on the surface. The presenter for this topic had reversed the article’s intent and subsequently presented the topic incorrectly. This shows that the group did not work together to discuss the readings and integrate them into one presentation but rather took three presentations and simply presented at the same time. I would suggest that the presenters talk over the articles to exchange ideas and ensure they are delivering the same, most correct message to their audience. The article shows that while the Vietnamese government looks very traditional and static, it is actually very dynamic and radically changing. In order to reach different communities in Vietnam, the government must be able to communicate with them in their local dialects. As a result, the subsequent translations change the meanings of the government’s message that varies from community to community in order to keep the Vietnamese populations peaceful under one government. I would ask the presenters, how has the current relationship between Vietnam and the U.S. affected Vietnam’s methods of governing its people?
The third and last presentation was about Vietnam and China’s economic relationship. China is larger and has more influence over countries than Vietnam does. Vietnam imports more from China than it exports to. Brantly Womack mentions in his article that Vietnam’s GDP is only 3% that of China’s which shows that for the most part, Vietnam is dependent on China while China is not dependent on Vietnam. Vietnam needs many of China’s products where Chian mainly import’s Vietnam’s natural resources, which it can also get elsewhere. Vietnam thus fears that China is slowly taking over Vietnam but at the same time must maintain good relations with China in order to sustain its own economy. My question for the presenters would be how would Vietnam be able to sustain its own economy when its natural resources have been depleted to a point where exporting its raw materials is not enough to sustain the economy?
My suggestion for this group would be to work more closely together in the future such that the three topics of Amerasians, the government of Vietnam’s flexibility, and Vietnam’s economic relationship with China can be integrated together to show how they all work together to create the politics of Vietnam. The powerpoint, if one is used, should be uniform in style and easily read from the back of the room. The powerpoint should not be read from but also not ignored—the audience should not be expected to simply read the powerpoint and understand the entire article. The powerpoint must be used as an aid to supplement the presentation, not be the presentation.