I interviewed three local residents of Ho Chi Minh City to get an idea of what the general perception of the United States is in Vietnam. Out of safety and ethical concerns, I won’t mention their names but use one-letter pseudonyms: A (28 year old woman) B (32 year old man) C (29 year old woman).
Like many places in the world, the people of Vietnam do not really have a nuanced understanding of the United States and its history. Thus, their opinions and thoughts of the US are very broad. Not surprisingly, A,B, C are all fascinated by President Donald Trump.
Upon being asked their general opinion of the US, each person I interviewed brought up Trump almost immediately and did so with hearty laughter. The general perception of Trump seems to not be positive. They are unable to believe that someone like Trump could be elected, especially because of how much he contrasts with his predecessor former President Barack Obama who my interviewers. I should note that most Vietnamese have an extremely positive view of Obama. As it is well-known, Obama was a guest on Anthony Bourdain’s travel show <<No Reservations>>; instead of eating at a palace separated off from common folk, the Obama and Bourdain ate a typical family owned restaurant in Hanoi among common folk. A, B, C express doubts over the intelligence, temperament, and political aptitude of Trump. Otherwise, A, B, C share a desire to visit the United States–they all share the idea that the United States is a wonderful place to visit and live. As an unmarried Vietnamese national, it is extremely difficult to visit the United States as a tourist. You need a visa, which is expensive and not easily obtainable. A, B, and C all have family in the United States.