My name is Thuong and I come from a poor northern village in Vietnam. I graduated from college in 2014, majoring in Hotel and Tourism Management. It has been a long time since the last time I contacted CEF. By accident, I saw photos on social media including me, when I was a little girl which Ms Linda had taken when I was sponsored by CEF to go to school, then onto college.
I still remember the time when I first met Ms Linda and Ms Thao – CEF’s volunteer and coordinator. I was in secondary school at that time, was skinny and shy. My face became beet red really easily whenever I looked at someone's face. I was so quiet and shy at that time. Fortunately, CEF and Ms Linda cared for me and gave me an opportunity to receive sponsorship to continue my education.
I lived with my maternal grandparents when I was little until I finished high school because my parents worked in the South. They just visited my grandparents and me on Tet holidays and in summer vacations. I was so delighted when they returned home, bringing home nice clothes and candies. When living with my grandparents, I saw them working really hard on farms to make ends meet and keep me in school. Therefore, it was a huge financial gift for me and my family when CEF helped me to pay my school fees during my secondary schooling, my high school years and then helped me to complete a college course. It was the first time I had heard of this NGO and Ms Linda, who was willing to help me and support me whenever I faced any difficulties in life although she was not one of my family members.
How time flies! The little shy girl now has become a young woman who is nearly 28. It has been about 10 years since I first knew about studying Hospitality Management at college and then having it as a career. I was very curious and interested in this career when my uncle talked to me about tourism and his hotel. I was so curious when I saw many beautiful photos of hotels, food and drink on TV advertisements. That attracted me and made me dream of studying and working in this career although I knew this job would have a lot of difficulties and I had to put lots of effort into gaining experience to work in big hotels, even just for part-time work.
I was so lucky that I had a caring sponsor – Mr Stephen, and I still remember the second time I met him in Hanoi. I was in my last year at college and he did encourage me by telling me an inspiring story. He told me a story of his friend who also worked in tourism. He started at the lowest position in a hotel and did try his best to become a manager. That motivated me a lot and made me more determined to be successful in the subject I had chosen to study. My sponsor also remembered the first time he met me when I was just a little shy girl. I also remember French fries when I had dinner with Ms Linda and my sponsor. All of the care from my sponsor and CEF besides sponsorship made me feel I was a lucky girl. I will never forget and will always be very grateful for the great support you gave me and my family.
It has been six years already since the day I graduated from college. Although I don’t work directly in hotels or restaurants, I am working for a tour agency in Hanoi which is related to my field of studies. Hotels and restaurants are our partners. Finally, I attained my goals, working in tourism and I travel to many beautiful places. The important things I have learnt during my work time is confidence and financial independence. I am more confident in communication and also can help my parents now as well as support my bother with his studies in Hanoi.
As I am working in tourism, my work was affected by COVID19. I was off work for a few months and this was the first time I understood about unemployment since I graduated from college. I was confused about my future and what I should do during this difficult time. So, I applied to work in a different area. I was an officer for a college in Hanoi, working in the department of International Communication. My work was taking the students to other universities and vocational training centers so that they had a better understanding of the subjects they wanted to learn. The work required travelling by car a lot and carsickness is my biggest challenge. I worked there for a month and then stopped because I couldn’t stand being carsick so often. Although it was a short term job, it was worth trying something different. I found out that I love my job and feel I am only suitable for working in tourism. I went back to work for a tour agency after the first wave of COVID19 and feel so excited every day when I work, although I know that it is a very difficult time for tourism now due to COVID19.