As Vietnam kicks out the foreigners; I think it’s time to write about my experiences living in Vietnam as a Black woman. I’ve been quiet for some time due to living in countries that would persecute me for criticism.
Well…I’m not living in Vietnam anymore and can write EXACTLY what I think.
First off…Vietnam is a freaking BEAUTIFUL country! I had the most memorable train ride from Da Nang to Ha Noi. Sweeping landscapes, rolling rice fields, bustling markets, and then the gradual shift to the insanely congested streets of Ha Noi. I fell in love with the beauty of Cat Ba Island and Hoi An.
I was met with curiosity and sweet smiles from the locals in the countryside. They’d invite me for a coffee or to try some new food. When lost, people would help me.
I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me first explain why I left Da Nang.
I couldn’t get an English teaching job.
At first, I thought it was because I was unsure of my length of stay in Da Nang. That wasn’t the case. It was because my skin color was NOT marketable to Vietnamese parents.
You read that right. My Black skin was a deterrent to getting a teaching job. Of course, I was aiming low. My credentials would ensure a teaching position at an international or reputable chain school like ILA. However, I wanted to work casually and not commit to a 40 hour work week. My Russian friend was able to quickly pick up a six hour a week teaching job. She even recommended me to her academy.
With hope in my heart, and my bank account trickling down to the double digits (yikes!), I sent my CV. The academy replied quickly. They were interested! Then they asked for my passport photo. At this point, I knew I’d never hear back from them.
You see, Vietnamese parents (most not all) believe white skin means you’re an English teacher. They truly believe being white means their child will learn the best English. Obviously, me…being Black…means I’m from an African country where no one speaks English…according to the logic of Vietnamese parents. Um…sigh.
Now, I’m a strong woman. When living the location independent lifestyle, you have to be strong. Dasha, my sweet Ukrainian friend, knew of my desperation to earn money. A father wanted his two teenagers to prepare for an interview with a U.S. high school.
Interview preparation is my specialty!
The extra 800.000 VND would come in handy for food and petrol costs. His children were very nice. They left our lesson confident they would ace the interview. Guess what? They passed the interview!
I was so happy to hear this because it meant there was a chance for more work with them. The father told Dasha’s acquaintance, even though he was happy with my teaching style, he wanted his children to learn real English.
He chose a man, of the paler complexion, from the United States. Let’s add insult to injury. The father would add an extra 100.000 VND per hour for the sheer privilege of this man agreeing to teach his children “real” English.
This man was a known drunk with no teaching certification or degree. He used Vietnamese women like toilet paper and was open about how stupid he thought Vietnamese people were. THIS was the man the Vietnamese father preferred.
I broke down in tears. Vietnam made me break down in tears. I allowed this Vietnamese father the power to break me down.
My degree, teaching certification, and (at that time) six years of teaching experience couldn’t compete with a white American man in Vietnam. I had to ask a friend to loan me money for the month.
Dasha’s Singaporean acquaintance should’ve told this father to go f**k himself on my behalf. She didn’t do it. You see…in Vietnam…money supersedes ethical behavior. It was a lesson I would be taught over and over again. Apparently, I’m insane.
Did you teach in Vietnam? Please share your experience.
I’d truly appreciate it if you like my post and comment. Let me know what you think! 🙏