This week, Italian photographer Simone Sapienza takes over the New Republic’s Instagram account at @NewRepublic with a selection of images made during his recent travels in Vietnam. 

While in Ho Chi Minh City, Sapienza was struck by the differences between the capitalist values of a younger generation and the older generation who continue to run the Communist government. Nearly 70 percent of the population of Vietnam was born after 1975, the year of the fall of Saigon and the start of the reunification of Vietnam. Most have no memory of that event and instead look brightly to a capitalist future. 

Vietnam is also the most optimistic emerging country in the world—94 percent of the population believe their children will be better off financially than their parents, as opposed to 30 percent of Americans, according to a recent Pew Study. Additionally, 95 percent of Vietnamese support free-market capitalism and 88 percent feel that their best economic opportunities are in Vietnam. In “The United States of Vietnam,” Sapienza illustrates this optimism with six different conceptual and portrait series, all photographed on location in Ho Chi Minh City.

Simone Sapienza at work in Saigon.Nhat Nguyen