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Vietnamese woman's hard work earns her government position in Taiwan
Central News Agency
2013-12-15 01:53 PM
By Maubo Chang CNA Staff Writer

At the Taipei Service Center of the National Immigration Agency, Hoang Oanh is explaining how to apply for residency to a Vietnamese woman who has just arrived in Taiwan after marrying a local man. Hoang easily earns the woman's confidence with her fluent Vietnamese -- and her knowledge of the problems facing Taiwan's new immigrants.

Hoang herself immigrated from Vietnam almost 20 years ago. The past two decades have seen her go from a stranger in a foreign land where even basic communication was a problem to the Taiwan's first naturalized government employee. Before she came to Taiwan, she started working as an accountant at a factory in Ho Chi Minh City after graduating high school in 1994. It was there that she met the factory owner, a Taiwanese man, whom she married in 1995.

While her husband had to stay in Vietnam to look after his factory, he wanted his children to grow up in Taiwan. As a result, Hoang, who now goes by the Chinese name Yen Pei-ying, ended up living with her parents-in-law, making communication an immediate problem despite having learned some basic Chinese in school. The language barrier led to frequent misunderstandings with her relatives. Her loneliness and inability to fit in left her more than once considering getting a divorce so that she could head home.

But Hoang soon learned that she was not the only one facing culture shock and linguistic obstacles, finding similar stories among other Southeast Asian women who immigrated to Taiwan through marriage. With a new determination, she began to hit the books at a night school for adults. Eventually, she enrolled in the Open Junior College under the National Open University while also volunteering as an interpreter at the immigration agency, where her hard-work and patience earned her enduring respect from colleagues and superiors. When the agency opened a spot for a full-time counselor earlier this year, Hoang, who had just graduated from the college, was the natural choice.

Becoming the agency's first employee of Vietnamese descent, she caught the attention of Vietnam's representative office in Taipei, which invited her to take part in a conference on Vietnamese women in Hanoi last month. There, she spoke about the status of women in Taiwan and the National Immigration Agency's efforts to promote Southeast Asian languages and culture as the number of immigrants continues to rise. For her part, Hoang said she will do her best to contribute to building the friendship between Taiwan and Vietnam by introducing the culture of her homeland to her new home.

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