MullerHitchhiking Vietnam
Page 58

Beside my bicycle, his cargo a grinning friend who sat side-saddle on the back rack. They were students, one studying French in the local university, the other English. On the unlit road I could make out nothing more than the moonlit glow of their smiles. I was captivated. The miles slipped by beneath us.

Why, I asked, English and French? The language of the invaders.

"Business!" they both chorused and laughed happily. Western languages, particularly English, were the key to a coveted job in a foreign firm. Everyone aspired to American dollars, American contacts and, eventually, a chance to emigrate to America. Besides, if no job opportunities presented themselves among the multinationals, it was always possible to get by teaching English to future wannabes. The University course was immensely popular and only the best and brightest were accepted. Russian was no longer even offered, due to a complete lack of interest.