Tina Yuan (whose Vietnamese name is Nguyễn Thị Thương) is a Chinese-Vietnamese teacher living in Singapore. She majored in mass communication in Singapore and the Chinese language at Donghua University, Shanghai. She also works as an author, copywriter and journalist. She’s fluent in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. She talks to Minh Thu about offering free English classes for the Vietnamese community in Singapore.
Tina Yuan, 30, is a Chinese-Vietnamese teacher living in Singapore. Photo courtesy of Tina Yuan
How did you start teaching English to Vietnamese people in Singapore?
I have done this work for four years. Now it’s a passion, a part of my life in this country. Many Vietnamese people live and work in Singapore, their English is limited. I think the free classes help them feel confident in life. My students also include children who were born in Singapore.
The free classes received much support from my friends and students from the US, Singapore, Australia and the UK. They volunteered to be assistant teachers. So the students have the chance to approach different cultures. During the lockdown in Singapore, the classes were operated online.
You published a book Lỡ Hẹn Paris (Missing Paris) this month that received attention in Việt Nam. Could you tell us about the book?
It’s based on the true story between me and my boyfriend who died 10 years ago due to cancer. I will send the book to Paris as a gift to his grandmother. On behalf of my boyfriend, I want to express gratitude to her and want to let her know that I will always remember him, like her.
The book contains both happiness and sorrow. I want to send readers a message that no matter how cheerful and painful the past was, it will help us grow up. We can’t live with the misery, just look at life with optimistic eyes, because we are not alone, we also live for our loved ones. I hope the book will encourage people, especially in the hard times of the pandemic.
Actually, I haven’t received the book due to the difficult transportation in this period. But I am happy to read reviews and comments from readers. They said the book is emotional and meaningful. I cried when I read their comments and saw their sympathy.
Can you tell us about your life in Singapore?
Singapore is a civilised country where people work on based on their own talent, experience and capacity. Working hard seems not to be enough. You need to learn new things and improve yourself every day.
I often share about my life and what I have learned on social networks. I am happy to be a bridge between Việt Nam and Singapore. I promote Vietnamese culture and language here and I share my living and travelling experiences for those who are interested in Singapore.
Recently, I took photos in the latest áo dài (Vietnamese traditional long dress) collection by designer Thuy Dinh which contains a Vietnamese map and flowers. The photos received praise from people on social networks.
How has the pandemic in Singapore impacted your life and the lives of other Vietnamese people here?
I can work from home, luckily. Despite the social distancing, the internet and infrastructure here are so good that I still feel connected with the world. Working from home is not different much from at the office. Recently, the lockdown has been lifted, so I can invite some friends to my house.
The English classes run normally on Saturdays and Sundays. Working from home allows me to have more time to help the students. If I go to the office, it takes one hour to get home by bus, now I spend the time to correct students’ mistakes. Vietnamese workers here have different shifts at work so they can arrange the evening time to learn.
Vietnamese people here have faced many obstacles during the pandemic. It seems to be a common issue for foreign workers because many companies have gone into bankruptcy or reduced staff numbers and they are the first ones affected.
I know that my people in Việt Nam also suffer the same difficulties. I just want to send a message that people should maintain their strong will and optimism. We should believe in the Government and doctors. They will find ways and life will return to normality. VNS
Cover of the book Lỡ Hẹn Paris (Missing Paris) released by Thanh Niên Publishing House.