“I once dreamed of becoming a teacher,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed during an armchair discussion at a university in Ho Chi Minh City during his official visit to Vietnam.
The 1,400-seat auditorium at Ton Duc Thang University in District 7 was packed with eager students and staff on Thursday afternoon, many of whom had arrived nearly two hours early to grab a seat for Trudeau’s discussion.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time to personally meet the handsome Canadian prime minister,” female student Ai Linh shared.
|Canadian PM Justin Trudeau cordially shakes hands with students. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Trudeau made his appearance in front of the packed auditorium in a shirt with rolled-up sleeves and a tie – his typical style at youth events.
“Let’s think about your future as you’ll be the leaders of the world and your own country,” he stressed during a brief speech before taking questions from individual students.
The 46-year-old leader used the discussion as a platform to share personal experiences that the students would find both helpful and relatable, including living in the shadow of his father, late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and doing his best to meet the expectations set forth by his family and relatives.
|Canadian PM Justin Trudeau speaks at the discussion at Ton Duc Thang University in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, November 9, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
“My father served as the country’s prime minister when I was born. I was thus expected to become a politician like him,” he disclosed. “However, my heart was in the teaching profession. The pressure and expectations mounted when I entered high school.”
Trudeau stayed focused on keeping the discussion inspirational and relevant, taking it so far as to interrupt the host’s incessant questioning on conventions, negotiations, and highly academic issues.
“I wish to answer the students’ inquiries and am happy about that,” he said before answering a question on Canadian immigration policies.
|Canadian PM Justin Trudeau smiles at a student at Ton Duc Thang University in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, November 9, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The country’s second youngest prime minister when he took office in November 2015, PM Trudeau has taken a particular interest in promoting youth involvement, enforcing environmental protection, and improving safety in winter sports.
The politician also acted in several films and is an avid athlete and boxer.
“The thing that counts in boxing is not how many blows you can strike but how many blows you can take from your rival,” he said.
|Students in ao dai (traditional long gown) eagerly await the Canadian leader nearly two hours prior to the event. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Since taking office in November 2015, PM Trudeau has breathed new life into Canada’s political arena through humor and beaming smiles.
PM Trudeau met Vietnamese State President Tran Dai Quang on the sidelines of the APEC 2016 in Peru, and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on the sidelines of the 2016 G7 Summit in Japan in May 2016.
He marveled at the changes he has observed in the country over the past 22 years since backpacking through Vietnam in 1995 and how bilateral relations have developed significantly since his late father Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984, established diplomatic ties with the Southeast Asian country in 1973.
Born in 1971 in Ottawa, Trudeau is a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and was appointed the prime minister of Canada on November 4, 2015.
The Canadian head of government is in Vietnam for an official state visit and for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit hosted by Da Nang City this weekend.
Following his trip to Vietnam, PM Trudeau will travel to the Philippines to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila.
Established in 1989, APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 and comprised of 21 member economies, including Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, among others.
The APEC Economic Leaders’ Week takes place from November 6 to 11.
It is attended by world leaders including United States President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.