Vietnamese carer wins Taiwanese literary award

19/05/2008
Vi Thi Tuyet, a 39-year-old care assistant, has won a Taiwanese writing competition for immigrants.

Tuyet, from Phu Tho Province, won first prize with her short story The Seaside, about a Vietnamese woman married to an older Taiwanese man.

Taiwan’s New Frontier Foundation organizes the annual “Image/Story of the New Immigrants” contest.

Stories are written in contestants’ native language and then translated into Chinese.

Tuyet, a care assistant in a seaside village in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung County, said her short story was inspired by the people she meets o­n her daily outings with her elderly patients.

The Seaside contains impressions of her many meetings with her compatriot Nga, as well as the author’s thoughts about living a life so far away from home.

In the story, Nga asks her widowed husband to choose between her and his children.

She writes: “The waves o­n the ocean were becoming much bigger. I saw Nga running toward me. ‘They always look down o­n me. What’s wrong with being Vietnamese? I don’t want to be their stepmother and they don’t want me to be either.’ I replied: `It’s really not reasonable to ask a father to separate from his children’.”

The story ends with children being sent away to live with their grand-mother and Nga and her husband starting a new family.

“Now Nga and her husband seem much happier,” the story concludes.

“I am also happy and I feel like singing to the sound of the sea. I hope no typhoon comes to disturb this place, so the sea will be peaceful forever.”

The term “new immigrant” was coined in Taiwan to describe non-native people who attained Taiwanese citizenship through marriage.

New immigrants are mostly women from China and other Southeast Asian countries.

They were previously called “foreign brides,” a term considered discriminatory by women’s groups.

“Living an immigrant’s life means facing a number of difficulties in communicating with the locals,” said Hoang Oanh, an overseas Vietnamese who was part of the short story competition’s jury.

Oanh won the competition’s first prize two years ago.

“The stories help to highlight immigrants’ feelings,” she added.

 

Tuoi Tre

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