I am writing an essay with a restrain of word count and therefore cannot afford to add any words. I am currently struggling with the punctuation of this following sentence:
The capitalized “I” embodies “Individualism”: the placing of first names first[—]while in Vietnamese culture, surnames precede, emphasizing the primacy of kinship. American English espoused equality since there are no reverent pronouns, no relational implications when “I” speak to “you,” while Vietnamese “bác” explicitly connotes status.
Which should go in between the brackets? Is the em-dash correct? Or should I use a semi-colon to keep similar ideas in a sentence? If the latter is the correct choice, my question then proceeds to: "What punctuations are allowed to precede the word 'while' since it usually connects without any punctuation?