Wednesday, November 6, 2013
My experience at the 2013 Vladivostok International Youth Festival
By: Anthony Nguyen
This past summer, I was selected by the San Diego-Vladivostok Sister City Society to represent the city of San Diego at the 2013 Vladivostok International Youth Festival (June 18-22, 2013). The purpose of the event was to strengthen the relationships between Vladivostok’s sister-cities and friendship cities, which include cities from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and the United States of America. I arrived to Vladivostok a day early prior to the event to make a personal visit to the U.S. Consulate to learn more about their services and mission. Following the visit, the 60 selected delegates and I spent the next few days immersing and acclimating ourselves to the Russian culture and environment. We toured Russky Island, the Soviet Fortress, the piers/seaside, rode the cable cars, visited the automobile museum, visited the Pearl (Pacific Rim Park), toured the 2012 APEC conference site, and had dinner and lunches throughout the city. Many acclaim Vladivostok as the San Francisco of Russia due to its beautiful coastal scenes and “Golden Gate” bridge. Like San Diego, Vladivostok is a beautiful port city; rich in diversity due to its proximity to many Asian countries, including China and Vietnam. As a Vietnamese-American, it was nice to meet other people from my own culture outside of the U.S. and outside of Vietnam. As the only American at the event, many people surrounded me with questions and curiosities about the U.S., our government, our lifestyles, etc. Many of them yearned to someday visit our great country and I told them that I will show them around should they ever visit me here in San Diego. Despite struggling U.S-Russia relations, I connected very well with the Russian students and still keep in regular contact with them to this very day.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity that the Vladivostok City Administration has extended to San Diego and for the San Diego-Vladivostok Sister City Society for selecting me to embark on such a life changing experience. While my visit to Vladivostok was less than a week, the memories and friendships I have gained from this experience will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about my experience or would like to be considered to attend the next Vladivostok International Youth Festival, please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.