US-Vietnam Friendship Festival Kicks Off in Hanoi

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi hosted the US-Vietnam Friendship Festival on December 2. This festival is part of a series of events celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership and the elevation to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development. The event was organized by the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations in partnership with the US Embassy in Vietnam.

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The program witnessed the presence of Dr. Phan Anh Son, President of the Viet Nam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO), US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc E.Knapper, leaders of the Hanoi People’s Committee, representatives from US non-governmental organizations and enterprises, American expatriates, students in Hanoi, local residents, and tourists.

During his speech, Ambassador Marc E. Knapper emphasized that 2023 marks a significant milestone for both the US and Vietnam as the two countries celebrate ten years of establishing a Comprehensive Partnership and elevate their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development. The relations between the people of the two countries, cultural exchange activities, and educational and training cooperation will play a crucial role in further advancing Vietnam – US relations in the coming years.

A performance at the US-Vietnam Friendship Festival
A performance at the US-Vietnam Friendship Festival (Photo: Dinh Hoa)

“All areas of cooperation between the two countries, including trade, investment, security, law enforcement, and energy, are built on the foundation of mutual understanding, trust, and friendship between the people of the two countries,” said Ambassador Marc E. Knapper.

VUFO President Phan Anh Son expressed his delight as VUFO collaborated with the US Embassy in Vietnam to organize the US-Vietnam Friendship Festival on the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Partnership and the official upgrade of Vietnam-US relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development.

According to President Phan Anh Son, more than a quarter of a century ago, in 1995, the story of a “journey of healing and building” began when US President Bill Clinton and Vietnamese Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet officially announced the normalization and establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States. With the great and tireless efforts of the leaders and people of the two countries, Vietnam – US relations have made outstanding and impressive developments in all fields, especially the establishment of the Comprehensive Partnership in July 2013 and the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development on September 10, 2023.

A guest excitedly competed in catching loaches with Vietnamese children.
A US guest excitedly catches loaches with Vietnamese children

Son emphasized that although the diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States were officially established in 1995, the people of the two countries have had special connections for many years prior, particularly during the last years of World War II when the Vietnamese people joined the US and other allies in the anti-fascist front. Only 45 days after Vietnam declared its independence, President Ho Chi Minh decided to establish the US-Vietnam Friendship Association (the forerunner of today’s Vietnam-US Society), the first bilateral friendship between the Vietnamese people and those of another country.

Almost 750,000 Americans visit Vietnam annually, and there are 119 US non-governmental organizations operating in 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam. Additionally, numerous partners of VUFO organize activities in the US, and Vietnam’s young generation has a deep affection for American culture and education.

In this regard, he believes that people-to-people exchanges will continue to make significant contributions to establishing a positive and broad social foundation that promotes the Vietnam-US Comprehensive Strategic Relations for peace, cooperation, and sustainable development. VUFO, in particular, plays an active role in this relationship development process.

VUFO and US Embassy officials showcase ao dai collection by designer Lan Anh.
VUFO and US Embassy staff showcase the Ao Dai collection of designer Lan Anh (Photo: Dinh Hoa).

He also hoped that delegates and guests would have memorable moments with cultural exchange activities and special art performances, food, and traditional games that bring families and friends closer together in the culturally rich and historically significant surroundings of the Thang Long Imperial Citadel.

The US-Vietnam Friendship Festival attracted nearly 3,000 guests with a series of activities showcasing the cultures of both countries and promoting people-to-people diplomacy through tourism, ao dai (traditional Vietnamese dress), activities of VUFO, Vietnam – US Society, US non-governmental organizations in Vietnam, trade, health, and environment booths. Participants had the opportunity to obtain information about traveling to the US, learning English, as well as registering for exchange programs, educational scholarships, and job opportunities at the US Mission.

The festival also featured distinctive music performances from both countries, including Vietnamese traditional dance, ethnic orchestra, ao dai performances, as well as performances by artists Adrienne Mack Davis and Julian Heughan.

The program served as a special event to recognize the diverse cultures and the friendship between the Vietnamese and American people. It highlighted the extensive cooperative partnership and reflected the common desire of the people of the two countries to strengthen mutual understanding through cultural exchange.

Phuong Nguyen