Women are powerful, inspirational, and filled with untapped potential.
From the U.S. to Vietnam, women are pushing each other to do better, be better.
This past weekend, I visited the Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Immediately when I walked in the door, I was greeted by the joyful smiles of these beautiful women.
This museum covered so many topics from marriage and birthing rituals of ethnic minorities such as the Hmong and Cham, to women’s fashion across different cultures. Intricate designs, detailed explanations, and attention-capturing photos were on every surface. In fact, there was a room to explore women’s fashion (both traditional and modern) around the country. The amount of time, care, and skill put into clothing is astounding. Everything has meaning, down to the last stitch.
My favorite room was the one dedicated to influential women throughout Vietnam’s history. It started with the Trung Sisters, who led the battle against the Han Chinese, and ended with Huynh Tieu Huong, Director of the Que Huong Charity Center of Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnamese women have been extremely influential in history and continue to play important roles, despite struggles they may face.
Women in Vietnam play roles in family, business, and education. They go forth with passion, strength, and intelligence. I am constantly blown away with the stories of women I meet with how much they have accomplished, even with societal norms sometimes being a barrier.
“Distinguished politicians, successful business women, devoted scientists, talented artists, outstanding athletes, and courageous farmers are moving the country forward with their deep sense of responsibility and their courage in facing adversity in their country.” (Women’s Museum)
Walking around the streets of Hà Nội, you see women running their own businesses everywhere. Whether it is a bánh mì stand with tiny red stools or a cafe with WiFi, women have a huge presence in the market economy of Việt Nam.
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with my new friend and her daughter, Tim, one day while I was reading a book in the park. She approached me and asked if she could practice her English, and we spoke for hours. She has worked in a hotel nearby for eight years, and has had a lot of practice talking with foreigners. Excited that her daughter is also learning English, she calls her over to speak with me, but Tim was far too shy to speak to me. Nevertheless, we had a lovely afternoon together.
“My daughter’s name is Tim. It means heart. She is my heart.”
My experiences as a woman in the U.S. are different from that of a Vietnamese woman. However, women all over the world do face similar issues; lower pay, higher rates of sexual harassment and assault, and unrealistic beauty standards to name a few. Getting to know women both young and old in Vietnam has shown me just how similar we all are. Strong, adventurous, and intuitive.
As it is day 47 here in Vietnam, I am increasingly grateful for the people I have met, the places I have visited, and the knowledge that I have gained. With only eight weeks left, I am doing my best to cherish every single moment in this beautiful country.
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