On literally my third day in the country, I had the opportunity to diplomat. The consulate was invited to attend an anniversary event for a local large corporation. Because most of the senior people at the consulate are on leave or otherwise busy, I was given the opportunity to represent the consulate (and by extension, the U.S. government) at the event.
Luckily for me, the event was in the morning. I was still getting over jet lag, which means that I was waking up at 5:00 am. If it had been an event event, I might have fallen asleep halfway through.
Although Vietnam is not China, there are still some common cultural practices between the two countries. The level of formality when holding an official event reminds me of a royal ceremony from a few hundred years ago in Europe. They literally rolled out the red carpet for attendees.
The event was largely a song and dance (literally at times) congratulations and retrospective on the history and accomplishments of the company. I was there to affirm the U.S. government’s moral support for economic development in the region.
I enjoy these things. They give us a chance to build and maintain connections with the local government and businesses. There is little pressure on us, other than to “wave the flag” and show our faces. I met a few people, learned more about the local economy, experienced some more aspects of Vietnamese culture. The extrovert part of me really likes schmoozing.
It was unusual for me to be able to attend this event, because of the lack of senior people at the moment. But I hope that I continue to have opportunities to represent America at events like this.