The answer could be instantaneous: “Yes! Of course it is necessary”.
But no, the Vietnamese are active all the time, though it seems that only in their own community. So what should be done to make them more active in Warsaw, among Poles and other residents of the capital?
Now, the answer to the next question will not be so instantaneous as we could wish. As it was mentioned in other articles about the Vietnamese, they form quite a big community and have been present in Poland since the 1950s. So how come that in the 21st century this community is still thought to be so hermetic? Are the characteristics of the Vietnamese to blame, or should we look for the reasons elsewhere?
One might say that both answers are partly true. On the one hand, the Vietnamese are not able to open up sufficiently, and on the other, the Poles themselves have never tried to approach them properly.
It is a common knowledge that the first wave of the Vietnamese immigrants in Poland consisted mainly of students and Ph.D. students who did not return to their homeland but decided to stay in Poland. The second wave took place at the beginning of the 1990s, when Poland and Eastern Europe experienced political transformations. The relatives and friends of those Vietnamese who had already been in Poland started to come here massively since it was famous for liberties and free trade (the case of Stadion Dziesięciolecia). The third wave consisted of the economic migrants, who came to Poland to earn a living, sometimes illegally.
One day, there will be the fourth wave. Its time is not easy to predict, especially when the borders have been closed after Poland's accession to the EU. Sometimes it can be heard that some Vietnamese reached Poland, but they did it illegally, through other capitals east of Poland. Or from the West, because now it is easier for them to obtain visas in the Embassies of France or Italy than in the Embassy of Poland in Hanoi.
Will there be more Vietnamese in Poland? We do not know. And how many Vietnamese are living in Poland now? We do not know, neither. It is estimated that there are about 35,000 Vietnamese living in Poland either legally or without documents (they do not have residence cards, nor even Vietnamese passports). Some of them do not even want to admit that they are Vietnamese citizens. Perhaps they try to avoid the deportation in case of being caught by the Border Guard (Straż Graniczna). However, they speak Vietnamese and Vietnamese only, because they think that Polish is very difficult and they will never learn it.
Perhaps it is true as some Vietnamese have been living in Poland for several or more years, and they speak rather poor Polish (they claim that sooner they will learn Chinese, which is true).
However, there are some Vietnamese who graduated from Polish universities or wrote their Ph. D. dissertations here. So they know the language. We just have to find a way for them to be more active, together with Poles.
Some Vietnamese try to justify themselves by saying that they work a lot and do not have time for anything else. They do not even have time for their own children, who are babysitted by Polish nannies when they are at work. They always come back home late, after more than 8 hours of work.
It could be said that the majority of Vietnamese have a rather stable life in Poland. Their children go to Polish schools, and some of them are very good students. Of course, there are also some Vietnamese who find it difficult to make ends meet, but hardly anyone asks Polish authorities for permanent benefits or grants. They prefer to earn a living on their own, and if it is possible, they always declare their help and actually send some money to Vietnam, because the people there are even poorer.
So some Vietnamese want to engage and have time for different types of social activities and entertainments. It is perhaps not commonly known that there are several dozens of organizations within the Vietnamese community. At first they set up the Social-Cultural Society of the Vietnamese in Poland, and then also the Society of the Vietnamese in Poland and the Society of the Vietnamese Professing Buddhism in Poland. There are 60 provinces in Vietnam, and some of them have their own societies in Poland, e.g. the Society of the Vietnamese from Haiphong, Nam Dinh, Kinh Bac etc. and the Club of People who Love Hanoi. Apart from that, there are lots of clubs. There are some dancing and even singing clubs. There is the Club of Painters, tennis and golf clubs. Recently the Ping-Pong Club even won a cup in the 'international' tournament in Berlin (the participants were the Vietnamese living in Poland, Germany, Czech, etc.). There are also some youth clubs. Older parents living in Poland have the Society of Seniors. The graduates from the Polish universities have the Club of Intellectuals, which soon will become another society. There are also the Society of the Vietnamese Women in Poland and the Club of the Vietnamese Veterans. Apart from them, there are football clubs and there is even the Federation of the Vietnamese Football Clubs in Poland.
Do the Vietnamese want to have so many organizations in order to provide everyone with some 'position'? Not necessarily, because those are social activities, whose functioning requires some financial resources rather than allows for making money or business.
One key question arises here: How can we encourage the Vietnamese to cooperate with Poles and build multicultural Warsaw?
We need to think about it together!
Translation: Alicja Kosim
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Every country has its own vision and policy as far as migration problems are concerned. It means that Poland has also the right to select or not to select its possible future citizens, as not all migrants in Poland will obtain citizenship. Anyway, Poland can already think about new inhabitants of its territory.
But even if Poland does not want to admit foreigners and if it secures the borders and introduces the pro-family policy (using the EU funds), the citizens of all countries in the world are in constant movement. So we can say that even if Poland does not wish that, there will be less Poles and still more foreigners here.
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It may seem surprising that the flag of Vietnam is an interesting, as well as a controversial issue. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a red flag with a yellow star in the middle. However, while entering „the flag of Vietnam” into the Google search, next to the red flag we can encounter another one – a yellow rectangle with three red stripes.
Hence, the Vietnamese should be made aware that if they live in Poland and declare it to be their second homeland, they should understand that communism is no longer tolerated here - and any acitivity propagating it is even forbidden by Polish Constitution.
In order to get the message across to the Vietnamese and to thoroughly explain to them what were the prodemocratic transformations in Poland, as well as to encourage them to integrate with the Poles, it is necessary to reach their leaders. The leaders of the Vietnamese community, people who know that group from the inside, are the best candidates to be the experts who will allow for getting to know each other and the mutual integration.
What are the features of the perfect expert?
Of course, it needs to be a person who speaks Vietnamese and knows not only the situation of the Vietnamese community in Poland but also the reality of contemporary Vietnam, as migrants who live in Poland are constantly in touch with their country of origin and they often think of returning to their homeland in the future. So it cannot be a person who left Vietnam when they were a child and do not travel there any more, because such a person may have very limited knowledge about contemporary Vietnam. Moreover, a good expert cannot be a person who has very limited contacts with the Vietnamese as he/she is not accepted by the majority of the community because of his/her sharp and controversial political views. In other words, it needs to be someone who is accepted by that community, in particular, someone who often talks with them, regardless of their political views or religious beliefs.
The Vietnamese are "allergic" to people who by all means look for the "class enemy," trying rather to gain popularity among Polish audiences (e.g. by their constant presence in Polish media) than to represent the interests of the Vietnamese migrants.
It ought to be stated that these Vietnamese who participated in the, so called, first wave of migrations and graduated from Polish universities within the helping programme for Vietnam should prove to be good candidates for the role of the experts. They have been residing in Poland for many years, and thanks to it, they managed to integrate with Polish society. Furthermore, thanks to the fact of being brought up in Vietnam, they speak Vietnamese fluently, and keeping in touch with their relatives and friends in the country of origin provides them with some knowledge about the situation in Vietnam. It should be noted that studies in Poland were available only for few chosen people - students from Vietnamese schools who got the best results in the entrance exams.
As far as Vietnamese students in Poland are concerned, it is worth remembering that not only did they have to be the best students in Vietnam but they also had to work very hard during their studies. The lack of progress in their studies could cause the deportation to Vietnam, and the situation od the expelled students in their country was very difficult.
Perhaps it is difficult for Poles to understand the fact that during the 5 years of studying (or 6 years, including a preparatory year to learn Polish), a Vietnamese student could visit their family only once - at their own expense. In addition, it was necessary to receive good marks in order to obtain a return visa to Vietnam (no, it is not a mistake - they needed entry visas!). What is more, when the transformations were beginning to take place in Poland, the Embassy of Vietnam confiscated students' passports. The students had only their student cards and certificates confirming that they were the citizens of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Some Vietnamese, who after graduation decided to stay in Poland (e.g. to start a family), had to pay (pay back to the Embassy of Vietnam) a big amount of money - almost the whole sum of the scholarships they had been receiving during their studies - in order to get their passports back and to receive the certificates about their marital status, which were necessary for the procedure of solemnising marriage with Polish citizens and of obtaining the residence card.
When one takes a look into the biographies of the Vietnamese who graduated in Poland, one can easily notice that they went through a lot: they experienced not only the period of wars with the USA, but also the wars with Cambodia and China, and the martial law in Poland. It was a real school of life for them. It is high time they use their experience to cooperate towards the rapproachment between the Poles and Vietnamese. For instance, the experts should act as advisors while organising the cultural events for the Vietnamese community, to prevent such events as those held to honour the army, involving innocent Vietnamese children (born in the democratic Poland), dressed in uniforms and infantry's neckerchiefs, which are unambiguously associated with the communist system. The Vietnamese who live in Poland should realise that such parades and marches, referring openly to the communist model, are not approved in contemporary Poland. It should be noted that the majority of the participants of such events - not only children, but also their parents, involved in the subsequent waves of migrations - just want to take part in a cultural event gathering their compatriots, and do not realise that they are being used by the procommunist propaganda.
However, graduates from Polish universities who are still living in Poland are well aware of the character of such events and of the way they are received by Polish society. In other words, they know a lot, but some of them do not want to protest. Perhaps they are afraid of the potential lack of the possibility to visit their families in their old country.
Admittedly, if they are Polish citizens, in such a case they should receive help from their new homeland. But how does that look in practice?
Currently, Poland has achieved a strong position and good opinion in Europe and worldwide. Hence, it can help not only the Vietnamese community in Poland, but also the whole Vietnamese nation. By deliberate and wise actions, with the assistance of the experts coming from the group of the Vietnamese who have integrated with Poland, Poland has a chance to contribute to the positive change of the political situation in Vietnam.
Projekt ‘MIEJSKI SYSTEM INFORMACYJNY I AKTYWIZACYJNY DLA MIGRANTÓW’ jest współfinansowany z Programu Krajowego Funduszu Azylu, Migracji i Integracji oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW realizowany był w ramach programu Obywatele dla Demokracji, finansowanego z Funduszy EOG.
Projekt LOKALNE POLITYKI MIGRACYJNE - MIĘDZYNARODOWA WYMIANA DOŚWIADCZEŃ W ZARZĄDZANIU MIGRACJAMI W MIASTACH był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
Projekt ‘WARSZAWSKIE CENTRUM WIELOKULTUROWE’ był współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej w ramach Europejskiego Funduszu na rzecz Integracji Obywateli Państw Trzecich oraz budżetu państwa. Wyłączna odpowiedzialność spoczywa na autorze. Komisja Europejska nie ponosi odpowiedzialności za sposób wykorzystania udostępnionych informacji.
LOKALNE MIĘDZYSEKTOROWE POLITYKI NA RZECZ INTEGRACJI IMIGRANTÓW Projekt realizowany był przy wsparciu Szwajcarii w ramach szwajcarskiego programu współpracy z nowymi krajami członkowskimi Unii Europejskiej.