The Vietnamese countryside is filled with bamboo-hedged villages, patchworks of rice fields, and farmers with their water buffalo, a scene that depicts a way of life that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years . However, industrialization has created new types of work and different lifestyles in a country that used to depend mainly on agriculture.
All over Vietnam, the lifestyle of the people is seeped in the centuries-old Confucian virtues of benevolence, respect for social order, trustworthiness, determination, and the duty to help the less fortunate. Vietnamese children are now taught the importance of nationhood and patriotic duty.
Where possible, three generations of a family live together in the same house. Men and women live with their parents until they marry. When it is not possible to live together, married offspring will choose to live close to their parent s' house, Even if far away, the families will visit each other frequently.
It is common for both husband and wife to work, so young children are usually looked after by their grandparents. In the absence of traditional caregivers, children are left at a nursery school or daycare center during the day. Children are expected to be obedient and respectful toward elders and to help with household chores, tending livestock, or minding younger siblings.top of page
Most city-dwellers prefer to live fairly near their place of work. the chop houses, or low apartment rooms, have a small kitchen and a bathroom. There may also be a small courtyard for drying laundry. Apartments on the upper floor usually have a balcony or roof garden. Most of the large colonial houses built by the French have been converted into offices or subdivided into apartments.
The city comes alive when the sun comes up. As early as 6 a.m.. trucks and buses rumble on their way to the provinces, honking at smaller vehicles to clear the path. By 6:30 in the morning, the city's main streets are filled with columns of people on bicycles and scooters weaving their way to work, hawkers selling noodles soup, French bread, or xoi (a kind of sticky rice, pronounced 'soy') park thier push carts on sidewalks and workers eat breakfast at these stalls. In the marketplace, housewives buy fresh vegetables, fish, pork or chicken for the day's meals.
Most offices close at 4 p.m., but shops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City remain open until 8 or 9 p.m. On their way home, workers enjoy browsing through the shops or stopping at a cafe' for a drink. Some stop at the market to buy food for dinner.
In the evening, many adults attend courses at community centers or work at second job to supplement their income.top of page
Village life is not so much determined by the minute and the hour as by the seasons. Fields have to be ploughed and harrowed and rice must be sown twice a year during the dry seasons. Seedling are transplanted only after the first rains.
People are organized into teams, young men taking on heavy tasks such as plugging and digging canals, women helping in the back-breaking work of transplanting rice seedlings. Older folk are assigned to look after fruit trees or to tend pond fish. Grain storage, construction of buildings, and fertilizing are assigned to a team of villagers.top of page
With so many children to educate and so little money, schools often cannot afford supplies. Some classrooms have little else than old wooden benches, scratched tables, and 50 determined students. Children go to school six days a week. Many must walk a long distance.
One group of students goes to school early in the morning, perhaps from 7:30 to 11:30. Then a second group comes to school in the afternoon. Often there is long break,
Students who hope to go to university or college must attend secondary school. To get into secondary school, the students must pas difficult exams.
Students who do not go on to secondary school may continue their education at a vocational school vocational school provides special training for trades such as mechanics, or agriculture.
In many Vietnamese schools, students wear a uniform consisting of a white shirt and blue pants with a red scarf.
The first university was set up in Hanoi in the 11th century. Since that time Vietnamese scholars have veen highly esteemed. Nevertheless, in 1930 less than one tenth of the population was literate In 1945. Elementary schools were set up for children, and night classes were offered for adults to equip them with basic skills reading and writing, especially in the use of quoc ngu, the Vietnamese roman zed script. Since then an entirely new educational system had been established.
Nursery school is optional, so generally children start elementary school at the age of six. The first cycle of five years is compulsory. Those who do not attend secondary school may continue their education at a technical or vocational institute that prepares them for a specific profession. There are also agricultural institutes where students and farmers alike learn about advanced farming techniques, horticulture, and animal husbandry.
Book: Cultures of the world Vietnam
Author: Audrey Seah