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Vietnam in the heart of a Frenchwoman

Vietnam in the heart of a Frenchwoman

Tuesday, October 18, 2022, 09:50 GMT+7
Vietnam in the heart of a Frenchwoman
Author Claude Coudert talks with readers at her book launch at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City, October 15, 2022. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

"When I wrote the name of the country for which I have a great love, I chose the spelling 'Việt Nam' in Vietnamese grammar -- two separate words with punctuation marks," said Claude Coudert, a Frenchwoman, at the launch of her book in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

At the event, Coudert, who used to work as a medical secretary, enthusiastically shared the story of 'my Vietnam' and explained how Vietnam gave her the most beautiful gift, her adopted son, some 30 years ago.

The launch of the work, titled 'Việt Nam của tôi - Những câu chuyện nhận con nuôi' (My Vietnam - Adoption Stories), was held on the afternoon of October 15 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City, part of Nha Nam Publishing And Communications Joint Stock Company.

Author Claude Coudert expresses her delight that her book titled My Vietnam attracted readers' attention at her book launch on October 15 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in HCMC. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Author Claude Coudert expresses her delight that her book, titled 'Việt Nam của tôi - Những câu chuyện nhận con nuôi' (My Vietnam - Adoption Stories), attracted readers' attention at her book launch on October 15, 2022 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Flanked by her adopted son Rémi-Vinh (Do Tran Vinh) and several other important relatives in Vietnam, Coudert emotionally shared her heartfelt and beautiful memories of Vietnam for nearly two hours.

"I first met my adopted son 30 years ago when he was just three weeks old," she recalled.

"When I took him to France, I was very sad because I had to say goodbye to other children in the area at that time, including many disabled kids.

"I love and missed them so much, so I promised myself that I would come back and take care of them when I retired.

"At the orphanage, I played with them, massaged them, and took care of their meals.

"As a babysitter, I did such simple tasks to show my gratitude to Vietnam."

Although she has only one adopted child, Coudert said she would like to tell the stories of many other Vietnamese children adopted by French families as well.

With the goal of telling stories of children who had a second hometown and were loved by that hometown, she decided to write the book and finished it after more than two years. 

"More than a year ago, my friend told me they wanted to translate my book into Vietnamese," said the author.

"I was touched and surprised because I did not think my book could attract the attention of others.

"I am so grateful for this."

Rémi-Vinh, who attended the event to launch his adoptive mother's book, said emotionally, "Due to COVID -19, I have not been able to return to Vietnam for more than two years, but I still keep in touch with my fiancée in Vietnam. I am very touched every time I return to my homeland."

Rémi-Vinh, the adopted son of author Claude Coudert, shared his thoughts at the book launch on October 15 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in HCMC. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Rémi-Vinh (C), the adopted son of author Claude Coudert, shares his thoughts at the book launch on October 15, 2022 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Rémi-Vinh said that in France he supports the Hoa Lua Association to help children in need.

He often talks with Vietnamese adopted children because they have many things in common.

"I know I am lucky because my adoptive mother is a person who loves Vietnam," Rémi-Vinh said.

"My mother often tells me about Vietnam.

"She took me on a visit to Vietnam when I was just three years old.

"Thanks to her openness, I know that I was a Vietnamese son being adopted at a very young age.

"There are two cultures in my heart and I feel comfortable and happy with that."

As a co-translator of Coudert's book, Associate Professor Dr. Tran Thi Hao shared what moved her to translate this work, "I was very touched by the way Coudert narrates in the book and her love for Vietnam. She loves orphaned and disabled children and often makes trips to Vietnam to support them."

Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Thi Hao (second, left), the co-translator of the book My Vietnam, expresses her admiration for a French friend's love for Vietnam at the book launch on October 15 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in HCMC. Photo by Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Associate Prof. Dr. Tran Thi Hao (L, 2nd), the co-translator of the book 'Việt Nam của tôi - Những câu chuyện nhận con nuôi' (My Vietnam - Adoption Stories), expresses her admiration for a Claude Coudert's love for Vietnam at the book launch on October 15, 2022 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

According to Hao, Coudert founded the Hoa Lua Association in 2006 to promote Vietnamese culture in France and connect families who have adopted Vietnamese children.

She spends two months each year in Vietnam learning Vietnamese. During that time, she takes a bus to the orphanage to care for the children there.

"I hope the emotional story of this admirable, dedicated French friend will be appreciated by many readers," co-translator Hao said. 

Readers line up to get author Claude Coudert's signature at the book launch on October 15 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in HCMC. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

Readers line up to get author Claude Coudert's signature at the book launch on October 15, 2022 at Nha Nam Book N'Coffee in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre

When Claude Coudert adopted her first Vietnamese son in December 1992, she never knew that the event would establish her lifelong bond with Vietnam.

After her retirement in 2013, Coudert decided to dedicate the rest of her life to children who lived in underprivileged conditions or were abandoned in Vietnam.

To help them, she claimed to have been a child who had been 'adopted' by Vietnam.

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Kim Thoa - Huynh Vy / Tuoi Tre News

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