Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Vietnamese

Believe it or not, there are a lot of Vietnamese in the Czech Republic. At over 61,000 people, the Vietnamese are the 3rd largest immigrant community, after Ukrainians and Slovaks. To Americans, 61,000 may not seem like a lot but there are only about 10.1 million people in the entire country.

The Vietnamese began coming over here during communism when the Czechoslovak government invited them here as guest workers. Vietnam encouraged this because they hoped that people would return with new skills and training. After the iron curtain fell, many Vietnamese decided to remain here rather than go back to communist Vietnam.

Unable to speak Czech, the first generation here has traditionally made livings as street market vendors. Since Asian culture emphasizes the group dynamic, plus the whole Czech language issue, many Czechs view the Vietnamese as a closed off society of people who live here but are not really a part of Czech society. However, the second generation has a reputation for high levels of educational attainment and over the last few years, a significant number have opened up their own businesses.

Czech Airlines even flies from Prague to Hanoi, 2 - 3 times per week.

I've heard that there is a really good Vietnamese farmer's market here in Brno where you can get fresh coriander (what they call "cilantro" over here) and hot peppers. I really need to check it out sometime.

1 comment:

  1. The Prague City Museum did a wonderful exhibition explaining Vietnamese culture to Czech people. It was very interesting. If people want to explore Vietnamese culture in the Czech Republic, I suggest starting with duck eggs. Why? Cause I sure didn't have the guts to try it!