Lunar New Year celebrations in Vietnam. Photo: iStock

As the Lunar New Year approaches, Vietnamese expats abroad are doing their part to preserve and promote their homeland’s traditional culture wherever they may be.

Dinh Khac Cu, 70, an advisor to the Association of Overseas Vietnamese in Thailand, plays an active part in teaching Vietnamese language as well as organizing other cultural activities to bring together more than 200,000 of his fellow countrymen living in Thailand, Viet Nam News reported.

Being born to Vietnamese parents in Thailand, Cu’s exposure of Vietnam came from stories told by his parents while he was growing up. Even so, he is completely fluent in two dialects of Vietnamese.

Cu says that he and his wife try to speak Vietnamese to their children as much as possible but every now and then they have to use Thai to translate Vietnamese phrases that the kids are unfamiliar with.

Teaching Vietnamese is a way for Cu to preserve and pass on his culture to the next generation, but it is also his passion.

Elsewhere, Doan Lan Huong is doing the same thing.

Now living in Slovakia, Huong is the vice president of the Vietnamese women’s association in Slovakia. Her association holds a celebration of the mid-autumn festival every year for children in the country.

Even so, the Vietnamese community in Slovakia faces many obstacles to the preservation of their culture. Huong fears that a considerable number of Vietnamese children growing up in Slovakia are unable to speak Vietnamese despite classes being held every week for the children.

In addition, the shortage of teaching materials and instructors remain the biggest challenges. According to Huong, Vietnamese classes were taught by the wife of an embassy official until she returned to Vietnam after her husband’s tenure was over. A Vietnamese student volunteered to take on the role, but had to resign upon getting pregnant.

Huong says that language is the bridge that links people with culture. If they do not understand their mother tongue, they will not see the appeal of their homeland’s culture.

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