Here's the prompt: Carolina encourages students and faculty solves problems. What problem are you trying to solve, and why is it important to you? 500 words limit
"Beep, beep, beep", car honks bounce against each other creating a chaos of sound in the humid air. For years, the transport system is the nightmare of people living in Ho Chi Minh City. Traffic jams are common because people do not follow the driving rules. When I was 13, an Australian tourist angrily questioned me on the street, "Why do the motorcyclists run the red light? Are there rules in this society?", "Well", I replied, "we do, but people rarely follow it." I answered it spontaneously and any Vietnamese can give the same answer. However, that night, I started to think, "Why don't they follow the rules? The traffic will flow smoothly when drivers follow the rules."
Vietnam is famous for its scenic tourist destinations, and for the traffic. The landscape is truly fabulous, but not so much for the traffic. With 7 million motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City, it is easy to imagine the traffic chaos in rush hours. Motorcycles fill in all the spaces between two cars stopping at an intersection; they funnel into the narrow alleys and shortcuts, people ride a motorcycle with five people on board even the law only allow two, and red lights hopelessly stare at drivers running the light all the time. Car honking composes a piece of music with different pitches and sometimes the high notes are in harmony with the lower notes adding to the chaos.
At the age of 16, I first stepped on America soil and to my surprise: there was no honking except for emergencies. Drivers patiently waited at the intersection, they stopped at stop signs, and they drove the speed limit. I began make connections with the situation in Vietnam, "Why do they wait at the red light? They don't have to. There was neither camera nor police." Suddenly I realized "It's consciousness. Drivers in Vietnam are lacking consciousness." I have kept that question in the back of my mind for years, now I have the answer. Once drivers become conscious, they will follow the traffic lights and traffic jam will no longer exist.
Thinking back in time, the question from the Australian tourist hurt me because Vietnam is blurred in foreigners' eyes. They do not see the charming scenes but a chaos and disarray nation. "Are there rules in this country?", "Ouch" I think to myself. It is an issue of a society as a whole but each individual counts. Each person can make a difference and together to improve the situation.
It will take time to raise conscious in people because it is not easy to self-realize but there is a solution. Nowadays, teenagers in Vietnam have the best education system comparing to the last 30 years, they are educated to become conscious citizens. When they have consciousness, they are the models for others to follow. Will you run a red light if all of the vehicles stop at the red light? Will there be honking if nothing cuts in front of the car? The answer is: no!
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