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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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