Perceptions of Alumni
What factors will attract international students working in Taiwan after graduating from the university of Taiwan? What are the difficulties they face while working? Let's take a look for their stories.
Interview by Liling Lee
Photographs by Shih-Wen Tseng
Organized by FICHET
Dinh Thi Thu’s (丁氏秋) journey to Taiwan began in the countryside of northern Vietnam. A desire to learn Mandarin, and to pursue new opportunities and experiences led her to Taiwan where she began pursuing graduate studies, then married and started a family. Now Thu teaches Vietnamese language and culture in schools, creating a friendly environment for her children and those of new inhabitants from other countries. Thu’s story shows that, with confidence and hard work, one can realize one’s dreams and help others achieve theirs.
Hello Taiwan！Xin chào Đài Loan！
When we first met Thu, she was wearing a traditional Vietnamese Áo Dài, but was speaking fluent, accent-free Mandarin with her students. Her accomplishment in learning Chinese hides the hard work she put into it. Taking Chinese language classes at Chinese Culture University, she met dedicated teachers who helped her improve and made her feel at home. These teachers later served as an inspiration as she strove to serve her own students. To expose herself to an authentic language environment, she also worked part time jobs in restaurants.
Learning by Doing
Experience is the best teacher, and working and living in Chinese helped her gain confidence in her Chinese language skills, leading her to take on new work as a tour guide, helping Vietnamese tourists experience and enjoy her adopted country.
Thu said Taiwan provides foreign students with friendly learning and living conditions, along with abundant resources and opportunities. But, just like anywhere else, one must work hard to make a good living, and always maintain a positive outlook in the face of any challenge.
Dreams of the Future
Taking full advantage of the educational opportunities provided by Taiwan, Thu obtained a bachelors degree in Chinese as a Second Language in National Taiwan Normal University and then a master’s in educational management at the National Taipei University of Education, planning to use her background and training to teach Vietnamese in Taiwan. She said qualification requirements and a lack of private schools makes it relatively more difficult to secure teaching positions in Vietnam, and she finds her work in Taiwan to be fulfilling despite the effort she needs to put into class preparation.
In her classes, Thu seeks to convey basic knowledge of Vietnamese language and culture, giving her students the skills and confidence to eventually visit and fully experience her homeland.
A Strong Character
Attitudes and goals change over time. Marrying a local Taiwanese man and raising a family here gave her new insight into the need for multicultural children to be familiar and comfortable in both languages. She set about studying the issue and developed a pilot program to provide Vietnamese and Indonesian language instruction for such children, seeking to raise awareness of the issue at all levels. Eventually, her project attracted support within Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture and is being adopted in public schools.
Thu has big plans for her future in Taiwan, hoping to expand cultural exchange beyond the classroom by opening a shop where people can come together to learn different languages, learn to cook regional cuisines, and learn about people from different parts of the world.
Be Confident, Be Positive
Despite the challenges she faced when she first arrived in Taiwan, she kept her head up and solved these issues one by one with confidence and pride, creating an inspiration for those who’ve come after her. We interviewed Thu on Mother’s Day, and she stressed the importance of setting a good example of positive thinking for her children. By staying confident and positive, we not only help ourselves, but also the people we love.
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