Friday, January 6, 2017

White House Video Includes Vietnamese Rapper’s Exchange With Obama

As President Barack Obama prepares to leave office, the White House has released a video compilation of some of the most memorable moments in his presidency, including a meeting with Vietnam’s “Queen of Hip-Hop,” Suboi.

The president encountered 26-year-old Suboi at a town hall meeting with young people during his trip to Vietnam last year.

Suboi told VOA Vietnamese she felt honored to be in the White House video, and that the meeting was exciting.

” ‘Town hall.’ It means that everyone has a chance to talk with a top leader, and in this case, his audience was all young persons. I think this term is new to most Vietnamese,” Suboi said.

“I certainly raised my hand every time he offered a chance for questions,” she said. “When he said he would take one last question, I believed I had to be the one to ask it. Other young friends had already asked about the economy and human trafficking, but no one had asked about actors, actresses or the arts.”

When Suboi introduced herself as a rapper, the president said, “Before I answer your question, why don’t you give me a little rap? Let’s see what you’ve got.”

She then belted out a rap number as the audience clapped along, to the president’s evident delight.

The exchange between Obama and Suboi went viral on social media, and news organizations started calling her Vietnam’s “Queen of Hip-Hop.”

Sudden fame has not changed Suboi’s life, but it has energized her thinking about the role of youth in modern society.

“My daily and working life do not change, but what does change is my way of thinking,” she told VOA. “The president answered my question with great sympathy. We can’t just sit down or discuss these topics over and over again. We must take action right now. Making changes for youth and our society is the most important thing.”

The White House video, less than six minutes long, gives glimpses of world leaders such as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and American celebrities such as actors Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates. But most of the president’s “farewell moments” video features ordinary people’s feelings about the nation’s first African-American president.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Vietnamese service.

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