Saturday, August 15, 2020

Thuong's story of sponsorship and life since ~ Written by Thuong and edited by CEF's Kim Chi


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.

(Name changed)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

CEF graduate Chuyen's story ~ Written by Chuyen and translated by CEF's Kim Chi

I came from a poor farming family and I am the youngest child in a family with four children. My parents worked really hard to bring us up and tried to keep us all in school. My father used to work on building sites and my mother worked on farms to make ends meets. The physically demanding work made my parents’ health deteriorate. My father has spinal degeneration and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to poverty and the difficult financial position of my family, when I was 15 years old, one of my sisters had to stop her schooling prematurely. She married after one year of working. When I saw how she struggled to afford the costs of raising children, I told myself that I had to go to university to have a better life for myself and to be in a position to bring up my children in way that wasn’t deprived. 

When I was 15 years old, my mother was recovering from her breast cancer surgery. I love her so much, so I thought that if I went to university, I would have a better life and earn plenty of money then I could help my mother to have a better life too. Her health has suffered a lot since the surgery, so I felt she should have a comfortable life when I complete university, as when I am working I would be able to support her.

In 2014, I passed the university entrance exam but my parents didn’t want me to go to university. At that time, my mother was sick and my brother was in university so they couldn’t afford to help me at all.

I still have never forgotten the day in September 2014, when my father took me to the bus station to go to Ha Noi although he said he wanted me to stop my eduction. We kept silence during the whole journey to the bus station. When we got there, I told my father “Take me back home, I won’t go to university”. He threw my luggage into the bus and say ‘Go and complete your university course’. We burst into tears and I cried during the long trip to Ha Noi. His action was such a positive motivation for me to go to university and complete my course. 

I took a university course for four and a half years, majoring in IT. During my university course, I worked part time to earn enough to cover my university expenses besides receiving sponsorship from CEF. At that time, my brother was studying at university as well and my mother was sick. My father was the only person working and providing finance for the family. 

With sponsorship from CEF, there was less financial worry for me when I went to university because it cost a lot for my university expenses. 

I got my university graduation certificate last year 2019, qualified in IT and now am working in my favourite job as a software tester. Every day at work I never get bored. With my university certificate, I now have a good, well-paid job so that I’m now able to give financial support to my parents monthly besides affording to support myself independently. For me, being at university for four and a half years was very important and also a key factor to my good future. My parents are well and they don’t need to work much now because no one in my family is being educated. We can work and support them monthly, so they only farm a little to provide enough for their daily needs.