University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU Hanoi

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Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Vietnam: Love Vietnamese as own mother tongue

If met the first time, Mr. Saadi Salama (Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Vietnam) can "surprise" his interlocutor with his fluent Vietnamese proficiency. His Vietnamese is not only used correctly in each particular context but also interesting and profound.
Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Vietnam: Love Vietnamese as own mother tongue

Palestinian Ambassador to Vietnam Saadi Salama - student of Faculty of Vietnamese studies and language during 1980-1984

You can see Mr. Saadi uses interesting phrases such as "gần đất xa trời" (too close to death's door), cái "duyên" (predestined affinity), "chạy chức chạy quyền" (running for government office or authority), "con ông cháu cha" (offspring of a powerful person), and "lòng người đang bạc đi" (people's hearts are getting as cold as silver). Through his story of learning and using Vietnamese, he shows off a distinct personality. That is because he always studies things extensively and compares and constrasts the Vietnamese language with others such as the English or the Arabic. He said: the word "duyên" is difficult to translate into English or Arabian; or the word "cảm ơn" (thank you) is used sparingly by Vietnamese because it is social and formal. Not only aiming to use Vietnamese correctly but Mr.Saadi wants makes it "deep" and emotional. He objects to using the language "mechanically" without any emotions. Such a language has to be interesting in not only signification but also pronunciation and narration. Therefore, only listening to him through the phone few people can recognize he is a non-Vietnamese due to the fluency and fascinating melodies of his voice.   

He carefully asked us about the interview's purpose and main questions. He prepared himself so as to answer most succinctly, impressively and "on point", for he knew one could only have a limited amount of time on screen. During over 10 minutes, he performed a perfectly fluent Vietnamese even without sequences of 'uhs' and 'ahs' that many Vietnamese might have commited. We did not need any rehearsal. Everything was neat and professional. Apart from fantastic language capability he had excellent thinking, so his ideas were always clear and coherent, based on which to show off his firm understanding of the Vietnamese language. 

Mr. Saadi used to cause a "shock" on TV thanks to his understanding of Vietnamese and sophisticated knowledge of Vietnam's history, culture and geography when participating in the program "Who is the millionaire" on January 31st, 2017 and won a 40-million-VND award. A series of hard questions related to Vietnamese cuisine such as cao lầu (style Noodle with Pork and Greens), bánh dày (glutinous rice cake), and bánh gừng (ginger-root cake); geographical questions related to Dong Xuan market and Lo River; or historical questions related to the revolutionary Tran Phu, were answered coherently and easily by him. Most interestingly, when asked "What is Bu?" Mr. Saadi first relied on the audience and their most relevant choice was "A kind of songs". But he then chose the answer "Mẹ" (Mother), overcame the challenges and was congratulated by the audience.

His Majesty's Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Vietnam Saadi Salama and Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Thien Nam (Dean of Faculty of Vietnamese studies and language) at his house in a video interview to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Faculty

To learn the Vietnamese language deeply one has to understand the country's culture and persevere through difficulties, which are Mr. Saadi Salama's tips. But another secret tip of him is his Vietnamese wife he married at a young age in Vietnam, the country he visited when he was still 19. 

"I am proud to be one of the few foreigners to speak Vietnamese as a mother tongue", said Mr. Saadi. He was also proud of another fact that all his 4 sons have grown up, become good citizens and especially know many languages: Vietnamese, Arabic, French, English and Spanish. 

"I am a lucky Palestinian to have been to and studied in Vietnam, at Faculty of Vietnamese studies and language". He continued to present and analyze his opinions, then "boasted" about his great luck and happiness - the confidence that by knowing one's values well and how to express them in words one can be unbeatable. It is combined with the sweet gracefulness of a diplomat with a cheerful face always full of smiles. That's why our photographer had no difficulty "catching" his most beautiful spirit in each shot. 

Having such an excellent student, Faculty of Vietnamese studies and language no doubt has for 50 years been leading the teaching of Vietnamese studies and language.

Author: Thanh Ha

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