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My Interpreter

Insights into the life of a 31 year old university graduate, mother and travel agent

rain 32 °C

Photos are at this site. http://community.webshots.com/user/splendrous
I have spent time over the past 10 days talking to my interpreter about her life. She was born in Hue to a rural family. Her father made a living driving a rickshaw and her mother raised and sold vegetables. She has two older brothers and one sister that is 7 years older than she is. Her sister only went to school until she was 13 and then she left school to earn money for the family. She paid for her younger sister's, my interpreter, fees to go to school and to add to the family income.

I will call my interpreter, Yen. She worked hard in her studies and she was selected as a monitor. She also sold cigarettes on the street corner when she was a child for money. She applied to the University in Da Nang and was admitted. Her mother did not want her to leave as she did not have the money for the tuition, but Yen was ambitious and borrowed the 25 cents from a friend she needed for the bus to Da Nang. She arrived in the fall and went out in the Full Moon festival parade and asked families with young children if they would be interested in hiring her to help with the children. Most were suspicious as they did not know her. One couple was interested and she began to work for them.

She is now married with a 3 year old daughter and a 3 month old daughter. Her husband works very hard for his sister working on boats. She says it is hard work and he is very tired. She did work for Foster's Beer and now has her own business as a travel agent focused on English speaking clients for the past 3 months. She says she had an objective to graduate, then to get a motor bike and a house, get married and have children. She says she has achieved them all.

She arranges tours and hotels for visitors to Vietnam. She looks for clients on the travel forums and has many happy customers. With the difference in the time zone, she said she usually stays up late responding to questions. Her husband goes to bed at 10. He is very encouraging of her business and she said he tells her how proud he is of her as he kisses her good night.

She now wants to buy a car. But she says that will have to wait until later. Her father is 70 and her mother is 67. Since they did not work for a government business, they have no pension. She purchased a house for them as well as a house for her own family. She sends money home to them. One of her brother's is unemployed (unemployment rate is high at this time). She sends money to him for the school fees of his children. Her sister lives with her and helps take care of the children. She says her sister is sad. She does not have friends, cannot get a job to make money and does not have something to look forward to. Yen respects her sister for helping her and she now provides support for her sister. Her sister loves her nieces.

She says she is the lucky child in the family. I told her she has worked hard to find opportunity and make her way. She says she is lucky. I think this is the Asian way of not being the focus of attention or seeking the limelight.

Regarding unemployment, she said many university graduates cannot find employment and are working in menial jobs. Most people do not have health insurance. She said she could not look at the sick people in the hospital because she knows that they can not afford medical care and will be left with no medicine. She said she was very worried that her parents will be ill and she will not be able to pay for their medical care.

She works very hard. On top of everything else, she also tutors students in English. I complimented her on a blouse the other day and she told me she bought it second hand for 5000 Vietnamese Dong which is 30 cents

She has asked me to take photographs of her 3 month old daughter because she has no photographs of her. She also has asked me to assist her with her travel business, review her website and, talk with her about her plans for the future. We have begun to talk and will do all of the above when her daughter recovers from a cold.

Posted by goodearth 04:26 Archived in Vietnam

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