In the run-up to the French presidential election, the famous weekly Paris Match invited international students from the Sciences Po Undergraduate College to shed some light on the words that matter to them in politics. Yen Ba Vu, a Vietnamese student on the Le Havre campus, chose the word “independence”.
Why did you choose the word “independence”?
This word has long played an important part in the political discourse of Vietnam, and it does in this French presidential election too. In both cases, it’s a provocative term because it implies opposition to subjugation. However, what is perceived as “subjugation” is not the same thing in Vietnam as it is in France. I wanted to put the attitude of some French people towards “independence” into perspective by holding it up against the point of view a Vietnamese person might have.
As a Vietnamese student, what’s your view of the French presidential campaign?
People don’t experience politics in the same way at all in Vietnam and in France. There’s a lot more media coverage and debate in France. There is also a lot of debate and controversy in France over things which mostly bring consensus in Vietnam, such as globalisation or trade. This is understandable, of course, given the different economic contexts: whereas economic restructuring is difficult for some sectors in France, Vietnam benefits immensely from globalisation. My experience with two cultures helps me put into perspective not only the viewpoints surrounding the French presidential election but also my own opinions and biases.
Personally, what did you get out of collaborating with a media publication like Paris Match?
It was an opportunity for me to express my views on an election that affects me other than by voting, as I’m not a French citizen. It was also a useful experience for discovering the media world, with its constraints and its specific codes of practice. Writing for a newspaper or a magazine is very different from writing for yourself or doing creative writing, which I was more familiar with.
Read the article by Yen Ba Vu in Paris Match on the word “Independence” (in French)
Read the interview with undergrad Lukas Hochscheidt on the word “ethics
Read the interview with undergrad Jimmy Quinn on the word “system”
Find out more about the Sciences Po Undergraduate College