More than 1,000 Vietnamese expatriates gathered at the Homeland Spring programme held in Ho Chi Minh City on February 7-8 to learn about the country’s development progress and sentiment towards the overseas community.

As a part of the annual programme organised on the threshold of the Lunar New Year holiday (Tet), participants visited the Cu Chi Tunnel historical site, offered incense to the Hung King legendary founders of Vietnam, and attended a spring-themed music show.

Kim Ninh Giang, an expatriate in Germany, has returned home on ten separate occasions. She said Vietnam is in her heart no matter where she is.

This is the first time Dinh Kim Dung from Austria has celebrated Tet in Vietnam. She said she was surprised at the warm welcome given to the expatriates by the country’s leaders, encouraging her to go forward with plans for business in the homeland.

Luu Thanh Dung has spent more than four decades living in France and said he always misses his hometown on New Year’s Eve. This year, seeing the lively pre-Tet atmosphere he said he was engulfed in indescribable feelings. His biggest joy is simply being alive and witnessing the country’s changes and peace, especially HCM City’s preparations for the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the South and national reunification, he added.

Among those returning home, many have decided to settle in Vietnam and put their acquired knowledge to good use and contribute to the nation’s development.

After 40 years of living in the US, Vo Van Toi returned to the homeland six years ago and is now working at the International University under the Vietnam National University in HCM City. He said his life here is more meaningful than in the US, adding that Vietnam offers a multitude of opportunities for expatriates to contribute.

Meanwhile, Dr Nguyen Quoc Binh was resolved to build the city’s Biotechnology Centre when he sold all of his properties in Canada 10 years ago. The centre, where he is now the Deputy Director, is comparable with its counterparts in Singapore and even larger than that of Thailand, he said.

Vietnamese-Filipino Johnathan Hanh Nguyen, President of the Imex Pan-Pacific Group, said the Party and State has clearly demonstrated that overseas Vietnamese are an indispensable part of the country through its many favourable policies. However, he said more specific and clear policies are needed to create conditions for overseas Vietnamese to return to work and study.

Vietnamese-American David Duong said Vietnamese abroad are continually proud of their country and look for ways to contribute to national development and construction.

There are approximately 4.5 million Vietnamese living and working in 103 countries and territories.

The annual Homeland Spring programme, launched in 2008, aims to provide an opportunity for Vietnamese expatriates to celebrate Tet at home. This is the first time the event was held in HCM City.-VNA