Vietnamese officials have been calling out against discrimination as foreigners are acquiring a stigma due to the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities in Hue, Hoi An and Da Nang have urged hotels and restaurants to be friendly toward foreign tourists. But some foreigners complain about the stigma they have faced. Here is a story of Armand Rautenbach, an expat in Vietnam shared with Vietnam Insider:
Vietnam is a mecca for foreigners who are combining their passion for traveling and teaching. Why wouldn’t it be?
Vietnam is a beautiful country with majestic mountain ranges and tropical coastlines. I think what made me stay in Vietnam, was the fact that the people were so friendly towards me. My girlfriend and I aren’t staying in a big city. We are currently residing in the city of Quang Ngai.
Quang Ngai doesn’t consist of a big expat community. When we walked down the streets, people used to stare and greet us with friendly faces and positive attitudes. All of this changed when the virus broke out. I’m aware that a lot of foreigners in cities like Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue do not wear masks or take any health measures against the spread, but that doesn’t mean that all foreigners could care less. There are some of us who respect the country and its people.
Vietnam has been like a second home to me, but during these last few weeks, I’ve never felt so unwelcome. When we walk down the streets now, people are pointing towards us with angry faces and shout at us with a very aggressive attitude. We’ve been cursed at, refused to be helped at shops, and generally just unwanted. I’m extremely disappointed in the way we have been treated during this time.
I understand that foreigners have contributed to spreading the virus. I understand that some foreigners refuse to wear masks. I also understand that the Vietnamese people fear infection, but they have to understand, so do we. We also fear infection. Schools are closed, so most of the foreigners are under financial stress. This isn’t the time to drive a wedge between the worlds, but rather a time for everyone to stand united. I’ve treated Vietnam and the Vietnamese people with the utmost respect and love. I do wish that they can return the favor.
By Armand Rautenbach | An expat living in Quang Ngai, Vietnam | The opinions expressed here are his own