Besides social and charity activities such as giving scholarships and loving gifts to disadvantaged children or families, we try to maintain three events every year: The American Independence Day Celebration, Workshops, and Concerts.

Why is the American Independence Day Celebration?

Many people ask us that why does Vietnam-US Society celebrates American Independence Day every year and not even years? As we know, the history of national independence is always a history of wars. 245 years ago, 13 US states declared their independence after fighting against British domination.

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Besides social and charity activities such as giving scholarships and loving gifts to disadvantaged children or families, VUS HCM try to maintain three events every year: The American Independence Day Celebration, Workshops, and Concerts

The value of American independence is not only within the US territory but also at that time, the echo of the United States Declaration of Independence has become the inspiration of many other colonial nations around the world. On September 2, 1945, when declaring the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh cited immortal values from the United States Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". It is these universal values that are the foundation for those who believe that the U.S.-Vietnam relationship is evolving, and will continue to develop, despite its ups and downs, even in the dark, with a war in the past.

Thematic workshops 

Vietnam-US Society in Ho Chi Minh City chooses conference contents related to culture, education, or economy. In 2016, there was a workshop involving the forecasts of economic-trade development between the two economies of Vietnam and the United States, which took place on Tuesday morning, December 20, 2016, at the GEM Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City with an audience of about 200 people.

"This is an annual activity of Vietnam-US Society, a people-to-people diplomatic organization in Ho Chi Minh City, to promote trade and investment relations between the two countries," Bloomberg News on December 22, 2016, reported. The workshop was titled "The Vietnam-US Trade Relation after 2016" with speakers including diplomats, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and economic researchers.

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Scholarship awarding ceremony on the occasion of the US national day of VUS HCM

Most of the speakers are "insiders" who experienced each turning point of the Vietnam-U.S. trade relationship, such as Mrs. Mary Tarnowka, former Consulate General of the United States in Ho Chi Minh City (now Executive Director of AmCham Vietnam); Mr. Le Quoc An, former Chairman of Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, who broke through to find a new market in the United States for Vietnamese textiles and garments after the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) was signed in 2000, and Dr. Huynh The Du, who works at Fulbright Economics Teaching Program.

Following the success of this Economic workshop, in 2017, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of establishing Vietnam- U.S. Society in Ho Chi Minh City, we organized a conference on "Liberal Education – the American Model" with the desire to spread an educational spirit that has been the foundation in American society since the early days of its independence. As Mr. Huynh Minh Thien, former President of the Ho Chi Minh City Friendship Union, said: “The theme of the workshop talks about the development of Vietnam-U.S. relations from an educational perspective, which also makes a difference compared to the previous workshops that had a viewpoint of economic-commercial relations. However, I think that the conference organizers wanted not only to find differences in advertising but also to emphasize to meanings of having educational influence between the two countries. In reality, that is a significant matter in the Vietnam- U.S. relationship."

We will try to maintain these activities after the Covid-19 pandemic with more diverse topics in culture, art, people-to-people exchanges, and using online conferencing technology like Zoom.

Exchange concert

As part of a series of events to celebrate the Society's 17th birthday, a concert "Vietnam-U.S. Friendship Symphony Night" at The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City with the participation of Vietnamese and American artists, and The Symphony Orchestra of the Ho Chi Minh City Municipal Opera House, was held on October 28, 2017. This event, once again, marks the maturity of the Society, because nothing brings more sympathy and sharing than music.

"We believe that this concert represents all the words we want to say about peace, forgiveness, happiness, and the future," said Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, opening the symphony night.

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Leaders of the Ho Chi Minh City Union of Friendship Organizations and the VUSHCM had a meeting and presented aid gifts to the US Consulate General to support the American people against COVID-19

Nearly a month later, on the evening of November 16, 2017, at the University of North Texas College of Music (UNT), conductor Tran Vuong Thach, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Municipal Opera House, conducted the Vietnam-U.S. Friendship Concert, within the framework of the 15th anniversary of establishing the Vietnam-U.S. Society in Ho Chi Minh City. The number one Vietnamese zither artist Hai Phuong joined the orchestra and introduced Vietnamese zither and monochord to American students and audiences. The Concerto "Vietnam-endless fields" by musician Dinh Lang was inspired by the rice fields of Vietnam and the changes in Vietnamese rural from the past to the present. The second work of the concert night was Serenade for strings by musician Hoang Cuong, mainly show the childhood in the countryside of Vietnam. The musician's message is "when you're sad, let think of your childhood, and the sadness will pass."

UNT College of Music is the largest music school in the United States in terms of the number of students, ranked 15th  in quality, and jazz is ranked first in the whole country. The friendship night at UNT attracted 1,000 audiences, contributing to introduce Vietnamese music to the circle of American academic music.

But the show that Vietnam-U.S. Society has left the most impressive thing so far is the dramatic music The Tale of Kieu, which was the first performed toward celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and The United States, in the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic, the night of July 24, 2020. It was a concert to honor the historical values of a Vietnam - US special diplomacy. "Being special because it is a paradigm shift between war and peace, hatred and forgiveness, remembering and forgetting. This challenging diplomacy in a quarter of a century says all,” said doctor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, opening the emotional night of the concert. In July 2015, the vice-president of the United States (now -2021-President of the United States), Joe Biden, when receiving General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, cited The Tale of Kieu with the two verses of current praise:

Heaven grants us this hour: now from our gate

All mists have cleared; on high, clouds roll away

And President Barack Obama when visiting Vietnam in 2018 also quoted Kieu to end his speech:

"Henceforth I'm bound to you for life." He said

"Call these small gifts a token of my love"

With the concert, we go back to The Tale of Kieu with a different form, however, its humanity, love, and friendship still exist as a message covering all times.

Vietnam-US exchange activities

In addition to the three annual activities mentioned above, Vietnam - US Society has maintained the following exchange activities: 

The Society received the "Veterans for Peace" (VFP) delegation. This visit's purpose was to learn about the Vietnamese history, country, and people after the war, to meet Vietnamese veterans, and visit the victims and Agent Orange victims' families. They also travel to care facilities for Agent Orange victims and some locations that are contaminated by Agent Orange, and work with The Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange in Ho Chi Minh City and other provinces in the whole country.

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The dramatic music The Tale of Kieu, which was the first performed toward celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and The United States

Receiving the "American Veterans in Vietnam War" (VVA) delegation: the purpose of this visit is to implement the "Veterans Initiative Program (VIP) to provide information and documents about Vietnamese soldiers who died or went missing in battle, exchange ideas with Vietnamese relevant agencies on the process of resolving the missing in action (MIA) issue on both sides, and present the reality in Vietnam and the Vietnam - U.S. relationship. From 1993 up to now, VVA's VIP program has provided Vietnam with nearly 300 sets of documents related to more than 11,000 cases of Vietnamese soldiers' deaths in the Vietnam war, helping us to find and gather the remains of our soldiers of nearly 1500 martyrs. The Society and the Union also received the "Two sides project" (2SP) delegation of the United States. They were the children of American martyrs during the war in Vietnam. At the exchange, Vietnamese and American martyrs' children had the opportunity to share stories about their families and their sympathy for the loss, express their desire to close the painful past, and help each other to look forward to better cooperation in the future.

The Society welcomed students from Trinity NYC High School. This is an annual activity. The Society has usually received a group of students from Trinity High School (New York) to exchange and learn about Vietnamese traditions, history, country, and people. The Society often organizes warm and joyful exchanges between Vietnamese students in Ho Chi Minh City and students of the delegation. From these exchanges, many beautiful friendships have been blossomed, further tightening the Vietnam – US relationship. On the bridge of friendship, with understanding and sharing, we will take courageous steps into the future together.

Of course, although the journey on that bridge may be long or short,  the steps on the friendship bridge are still at the beginning.

Dr. Tran Ngoc Chau
(Vice President of Vietnam-US Society in Ho Chi Minh City)