From a blank spot on the map to a golden pearl
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I learned that ‘Around the World’ was going to take us to Vietnam. I know from Julai, an old school friend of mine, that the Vietnamese are good at math, as I used to copy his work all the time. Other than that, for me, Vietnam was more of a blank spot on our map of the world.
It’s a good thing that Pham Hung Cuong, Elevator Sales Manager at thyssenkrupp in Hanoi, took us on a journey through his city so we could discover its hidden gems. While his day job sees him provide advice to customers on purchasing elevators, our shoot gives him an opportunity to sell us the cornerstones of Vietnamese culture. We spend a day together in Hanoi and find out that there are many good reasons to love living and working here.
1. A healthy morning drives away sorrow and worries
Daily life in Vietnam may not suit those grumpy in the mornings, but it’s perfect for a healthy lifestyle. Cuong’s average day is a mixed bag of stress, filled with customer meetings in the office and visits to construction sites – all in one of the world’s most heavily congested cities. We accompany him on his morning exercise routine around Hoan Kiem Lake. As we catch sight of a 96-year-old salsa dancer, we begin to understand that health plays a major role in Vietnamese life, presumably due to the hectic nature of life here. Everyone here exercises, and they do it every morning.
2. Giving starts at home
Afterwards, we enjoy some delicious beancurd pudding at the Cuong homestead and get an insight into family life. It’s clear that this is where Cuong gets his friendly disposition, which he also needs when providing advice to customers. The five of us immediately feel welcomed at Cuong’s home. Harmony is everywhere.
3. “Life is too short for bad soup”
At least that’s how the Vietnamese saying goes. Soup is a big deal here. Vietnamese cuisine is a mix of Chinese and Thai dishes – at least that was the impression I gathered. The dishes are either spicy, sour, extremely salty, sweet, or a mix of all of the above. If we learned anything, it’s that food is for sharing! “Eating is a social activity here,” says Cuong. For me, the food on Michaela’s plate tasted the best.
4. Diversity is about give and take
Vietnam is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to 16 percent of the world’s species. That’s not all. In the Group, we get a sense of the merits of diversity again and again. Diversity is a matter of give and take in the office in Hanoi. Each individual contributes something to a positive working environment, be it by making the best cup of jasmine tea or by having the friendliest smile.
We’re all on the same page by the end of the trip: health, harmony, diversity, and community. Well done, Mr. Cuong! You have turned this blank spot on the map into a golden pearl.