May 1, 2004
Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy: receptionist at Le Trung Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
STREETBUZZ: Thu Thuy, when and where you were born?
THU THUY: I was born in Bien Hoa City, Vietnam. That was August 7, 1973.
STREETBUZZ: How about your family? How many are you and where does everyone live?
THU THUY: I have mother, father, three brother and five sister. Now we stay in District 10 (Ho Chi Minh City.) We move to Saigon in 1975 because of the economoy, it was very bad in my province.
STREETBUZZ: Please tell me about your childhood. Were you happy, did you have a happy family?
THU THUY: Always study, enjoy school. My parents had a small restaurant, I helped cook and take care of customer. I graduate from high school when I'm 18.
STREETBUZZ: After you graduated from high school, what did you do then?
THU THUY: I help my mother cook. I study English in the University Center School for two years. Then I find a job, work in marketing. It's selling wine from Mexico, tequila. I go to the bars, to sell tequila. Yes, it's OK but I don't like because I don't practice my English.
STREETBUZZ: So what did you do after the marketing job?
THU THUY: After that, my family open a hotel, for two years. But the economy went bad, so mother and father sell the house, sell the hotel. Yes, they lose their money. Now me, my sister working to help my mother and father; they too old to work. My father 78, my mother 60.
STREETBUZZ: How about your work now, here at Le Trung Hotel?
THU THUY: It's OK. I can practice my English. My salary 900,000 Vietnam Dong (US $57 per month.)
Every month I give 300,000 Dong to my family.
What my job? I'm reception during the daytime. More customers come here, check out, collect the money, and sell the ticket for tour. Yes, I get commission. Yes, sometimes clean, sometimes customer complain about no hot water, no aircon, like that.
STREETBUZZ: Any plans for your future?
THU THUY: I want to have a small cafe store. I need about two thousand dollars. But now I only save 100,000 Dong every month (US $6.)
STREETBUZZ: What can you say about Vietnam?
THU THUY: What you want me to say?
STREETBUZZ: Well, do you have any opinion about your country? You know, if you ask me about my country, the United States, I have many opinions about that.
THU THUY: No.
STREETBUZZ: How about the history of Vietnam, any opinions? Your country has a long history.
THU THUY: No.
STREETBUZZ: Do you have any opinion about foreign tourists?
THU THUY: They are kind, friendly. Many people like Saigon, Nha Trang. People in Ho Chi Minh City are different from Hanoi. The voice, the thinking very different.
STREETBUZZ: How about your sister, the one who also helps your family?
THU THUY: She work a receptionist for the government. It only 8 hour in day, 5 day in a week. It 200 dollars a month. One year she have a lot of money. It because she have two languages: French and English. No, she don't have to pay anybody to get that job.
STREETBUZZ: Do you think might you get married sometime?
THU THUY: Not yet because I'm busy, I work until six pm, then go home I'm tired. Boyfriend? Before I have but no more. We separate, we not understand together.
STREETBUZZ: Can you help me to understand about some Vietnamese cultural concepts?
THU THUY: OK.
STREETBUZZ: For example, I was reading about 'Hieu': filial piety, the way that everyone is supposed to be responsible to their family.
THU THUY: Yes, that true. If a foreigner (Vietnamese living overseas) come to visit, they don't have to bring presents, they just bring money, give the family. They need it.
STREETBUZZ: "Nghia": righteous path. I think it means that each person should behave in a good way, a traditional way, to maintain the society. Is that difficult for you, for other young people to do these days?
THU THUY: Yes, true. A little bit difficult for me now. Because of the money.
STREETBUZZ: And 'nhan': feeling or benevolence?
THU THUY: That about person with person, like rich person or poor person. Yes, Vietnamese people think rich better than poor person. Example, go to hospital, rich person get better there than poor person.
STREETBUZZ: Thu Thuy, thanks very much for the interview. It has been a pleasure to stay at the hotel and to meet you.
A STREETBUZZ INTERVIEW
Le Trung Hotel
62 Bui Vien Street, Dist. 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: (84.8) 8364852