Honesty, the best policy?
Updated : 06/16/2012 13:37 GMT + 7
Have you noticed a brand new column under City Diary page? Last Thursday, we launched Expat Files, which features stories from daily life in Vietnam. Come back every Monday and Thursday to meet Scott Harris, an American in Hanoi and James Allen, a Brit in Ho Chi Minh City to learn about culture shock, confusion, excitement or homesickness of the expats living in Vietnamese cities.
Also last week, we discussed honesty after students at Doi Ngo high school in Bac Giang Province were filmed exchanging cheat sheets during a graduation exam. It is essential to educate kids about honesty or more generally ethics from childhood.
In a response article, Cao Huy Thao, principal at the Saigon International College, found parents have yet to act as a role model for kids.
“When the kids see their mom and dad making mistakes (like driving through a red light while school teaches them to stop when the light turns red) and receive no explanation, they will not believe in honesty anymore,” wrote Thao.
Talking to parents whose kids cheated during exam, Thao noticed they only cared if the filthy act affected the child’s academic performance rather than concerned about his or her virtues or characteristics.
Meanwhile, Alice Carney finds the Vietnamese “honest” in a different way. Several locals do not hesitate to tell if someone is too fat or too thin, too tall or too short, too white or too tanned.
“When I left my 26th birthday dinner I went home and cried. Not because it wasn’t fun, but because my Vietnamese friend remarked that I must have had a good holiday because “you look quite fat now.” I’d only been in Vietnam for two months and it was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to me,” Alice recalled one of her first culture shocks in Hanoi.
Sympathizing with Alice, a reader called Eric also shared his experience:
“I remember when I was in Vietnam, everyone kept saying how skinny I was. At first, it didn't matter to me. However, after constantly being told how skinny I was by all my Vietnamese friends and colleagues, I became too self-conscious of the way I looked. I'm not used to being criticized so openly like this. Next month, I will return to Vietnam for about 5 months. Hopefully I gained enough weight to be considered ‘normal’.”
After living in Vietnam for two years, Alice have got accustomed to being told the ugly truth by locals and come to wonder if westerners are too sensitive.
“[…] while I’ve not yet been able to adopt the Vietnamese way of telling things like they are (probably due to my 25 years of pre-Asia preconditioned “politeness”), I’ve come to accept and even appreciate the honesty, finding it refreshing. It’s made me realize that foreigners are sensitive to the point of ridiculousness, getting hugely insulted by the smallest thing,” she wrote.
How about you, our readers, what do you think? Is honesty always a way of life? And to what extent should we be honest in daily interactions with other people?
Last but not least, there is something we would like to announce. Next week, we will celebrate the second birthday of TuoiTreNews, the website you are reading right now. Launched on June 18, 2010, TuoiTreNews has been tirelessly bringing our local and expat readers the latest news and exclusive feature stories as well as providing a playground for you all to share your opinions, interact with each other and also with our writers.
If you want to comment on our stories, give suggestions on our news site or simply send us some wishes, drop an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org . We will start publishing readers’ pieces in celebrating of TuoiTreNews birthday next Monday.
Enjoy your weekend and see you soon for a happy birthweek!