“The Homeland Spring”

“The Homeland Spring” is an annual program for overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu) returning home for Tet. This year it was held in southern Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City from February 7-8, 2015 (December 19-20, 2014 according to the lunar calendar), with the participation of over 1,000 Viet Kieu. State President Truong Tan Sang and many Party and State, as well as local leaders attended the event, sharing joy with the participants in a cozy atmosphere.

Every year, when the traditional lunar New Year (called Tet by the Vietnamese) is approaching, the program “The Homeland Spring” is organised, becoming a rendezvous for Viet Kieu from all over the world who return home to welcome Tet, full of warmth.

This year’s event, the eighth edition of the program, was organised for the first time in HCM City, where more than half of the country’s Viet Kieu originated. It was held at a time when the country is preparing for the upcoming celebration of the 40th anniversary of the liberation of south Vietnam (April 30, 1975-2015) that reunified the country.

Lawyer Dinh Viet Tu, a Vietnamese American, left the country 23 years ago and over the last few years he has returned to Vietnam at Tet.

“The traditional lunar New Year, or Tet as we Vietnamese often call it, is of sacred significance, especially to those who are living far from home. We often think of our native land and miss it mostly when Tet is coming,” Tu confided. He also said that Tet is an occasion to connect the Viet Kieu to their native land, and he is very happy to see the country’s development.

“I trust in the leadership of the Vietnamese Party and State in building a prosperous country,” the lawyer said. Ly Thi Hoa, who is now living in Belgium, said that she left Vietnam 32 years ago, but she takes every opportunity to return to Vietnam to be a part of the traditional Tet. “Nothing can compare to celebrating Tet in my homeland, Vietnam,” she said.

State President Truong Tan Sang attends “The Homeland Spring 2015”
at Nha Rong Wharf with overseas Vietnamese. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

State President Truong Tan Sang welcomes overseas Vietnamese to “The Homeland Spring” programme.
Photo: Le Minh/VNP

State President Truong Tan Sang, his wife and overseas Vietnamese
perform the rite of releasing carp to worship the Kitchen Gods. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh awards certificates of merit of the Prime Minister
to Viet Kieu groups and individuals for their contributions to the work of strengthening
the Vietnamese community overseas. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

David Duong, a representative of overseas Vietnamese, addresses the meeting. Photo: Le Minh/VNP
Panoramic view of “The Homeland Spring 2015” programme held at the City Hall in Ho Chi Minh City.
Photo: Le Minh/VNP
Over the years, the contributions of the Viet Kieu to Vietnam have been truly remarkable. The Viet Kieu are considered an integral part of the Vietnamese community. Statistics from the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that there are now about 4.5 million Vietnamese living in 109 countries and territories around the world.

Every year, there are around 500,000 Viet Kieu who come home for Tet. In 2014, remittances from overseas Vietnamese reached 12 billion dollars, of which more than five billion dollars was channeled into Ho Chi Minh City.

From 1993-2014, the total of overseas remittance to Vietnam reached nearly 97 billion dollars, or an average amount of 4.4 billion dollars per year, accounting for 6.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the corresponding period.

From 2007-2013, overseas remittance ranked second in terms of capital for development in Vietnam, behind that from foreign direct investment (FDI) and ahead of official development assistance (ODA). Initially, overseas money was sent to Vietnam to assist the senders’ relatives, but now much of it is channeled into business investment that helps create more jobs and contributes to social and economic development in Vietnam.

On February 7 alone, there were more than 600 Viet Kieu who attended the meeting at the City Hall in District 3. They were happy to meet one another, shaking hands and exchanging greetings and best wishes for the New Year.

Le Hoang Quan, Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, reviewed Ho Chi Minh City’s development in the last year, and plans for the coming year.

On the occasion, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Certificates of Merit to 12 Viet Kieu groups and 24 individuals for their superior contributions to the work of strengthening the Vietnamese community overseas. The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee also presented Certificates of Merit to one group and five individuals for their notable contributions.

There were various activities held on February 8, which President Truong Tan Sang and many Viet Kieu visited and offered incense at the Monument to the Hung Kings in the Ethnic Groups’ Culture Park in District 9, and the Memorial House to President Ho Chi Minh at Nha Rong Wharf.

The State President joined in the ritual to release carp into the Tau Hu Canal which is a traditional custom for the worship of the Kitchen Gods, with best wishes for a prosperous life and the country’s strong development and global integration.

On the evening of February 8, at Nha Rong Wharf, President Truong Tan Sang and leaders of the Vietnamese Party and State, ministries and local agencies, and more than 1,000 Viet Kieu enjoyed watching an artistic performance titled, “The Homeland Spring– Glorified Nation 2015”.

A special artistic programme themed “The Homeland Spring 2015 – Glorified Nation 2015”
held at Nha Rong Wharf. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh delivered the opening speech of
the special artistic programme themed “The Homeland Spring 2015 – Glorified Nation 2015”. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Party, State leaders and over 1,000 overseas Vietnamese attend the special artistic programme. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

State President beats the drum at the programme. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

The artistic programme embodies cultural identities of traditional Tet festival. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Vietnam’s Ao dai designson display at the stage. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

A tableau presenting family union to make Banh Chung during Tet. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

A performance praising the gloriouspathway of the Party and nation. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

In his speech at the event, President Truong Tan Sang emphasised: “The overseas Vietnamese have strongly expressed their patriotism, standing shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots in defending the national sovereignty over the islands and sea of the homeland. The Vietnamese Party, State and people are happy with the achievements that the Viet Kieu have achieved, and highly appreciate their valuable contributions to the country. On this occasion, I’d like to convey my best regards and warm, happy New Year greetings to all of you here and your families overseas”.

To show the determination of the Viet Kieu in joining their compatriots at home to further develop the country, David Duong, President of the Overseas Vietnamese Union, said that Vietnam’s policies of renewal in recent years have provided confidence to the Viet Kieu, making them trust more in the leadership of the Party and State, and hold firm confidence in the country’s bright future.

“The Vietnamese community overseas is proud of their homeland, and determined to stand side by side with their compatriots at home in strengthening the prosperous country of Vietnam,” Duong said.

Story: Nguyen Oanh – Photos: Le Minh