華人世界最著名的越南老師 / 最暢銷越南語教材
越南語廣播電視主持人 陳凰鳳 -幸福新民報-2016.12.05
2012年陳凰鳳老師記錄片-教學 家庭 攝影棚
台灣母親 / 越南老師 ─Cô Phượng
Trần Thị Hoàng Phượng / herstory
Tran Thi Hoang Phuong, Cross-Cultural Superwoman
Eleven years ago, despite the vocal ob-jections of her friends and family, Tran Thi Hoang Phuong (who goes by the Chinese name Chen Huang-feng) married a Taiwanese man who was working in Ho Chi Minh City at the time. Seven years later, the couple moved with their two kids to Taiwan. Originally planning to just settle down and concentrate on being a good wife and mother, when Tran saw the way her fellow Vietnamese women were being misunderstood and belittled, she felt a rush of patriotism. This drove her to start working as a volunteer translator at the local hospital and go to community college to teach Chinese to other foreign brides. Later she established a Vietnamese-language newsletter for Vietnamese women and became a teacher in classes for foreign spouses and in the Vietnamese language. Now she's preparing to test into Shih Chien University to study for her master's degree and hopes to study family issues at a higher level.
Her son, in his first year at elementary school, isn't like most so-called "new children of Taiwan," who don't want anyone to know about their heritage; rather, he frequently proudly tells new friends, "My mum's called Chen Huang-feng, and we're Vietnamese!"
In class "Ms. Chen," with her jet-black wavy hair, big bright eyes and neighborly smile, is often asked by Taiwanese men, "How can my wife be more like you?" To this, Tran always replies, "What do you mean by 'like me'?"
Though they rarely make it totally clear, the answer these Taiwanese husbands gives is, "Able to live so happily and freely here!"
Tran shares her experiences with other foreign spouses, including the secret to her happy marriage: "My husband respects me, and he understands and respects Vietnamese culture. We learn a lot from each other." When she was newly married Tran was young and naive, and although her husband often said she was "like a child," he gave her room to grow, and the two started learning from each other's unique character.
The contrasts between the two are evident. She was raised in a traditional Vietnamese home and had a close relationship with her family, but also developed a dependent personality; her husband, on the other hand, spent his youth studying in foreign climes, developing an independent and adventurous spirit, but never really knew how to get along with his parents intimately. "He envied the relationship I had with my family, and through his independent spirit I learned to be more adventurous."
The strength of the Vietnamese
The differences in cultures have become part of what makes their life together so rich. Many Taiwanese, though, have a negative impression of communist countries--to them Vietnam is poor and backward. But Tran's husband is well versed in the history of the Vietnam War, and has long admired the resilience and fierce opposition the Vietnamese put up in the war. In fact, his knowledge of Vietnamese history even surpasses hers!
"Learning about and appreciating the beauty of each other's cultures is one of the best communicative tools," says Tran. From what she's seen in both Taiwan and Vietnam, the pairing of a Taiwanese husband and Vietnamese wife is becoming increasingly common, but the happiness of these marriages differs immensely between the two countries. In Vietnam such families are relatively harmonious and happy, largely because the couples there know better how to respect and accept each other.
As far as language and culture go, Taiwanese husbands in Vietnam are usually happy to learn Vietnamese and study the culture, but their in-laws rarely attempt to force them to become Vietnamese. Meals, lifestyle, and home designs are often a fusion of both heritages, which helps the families more easily integrate into the local community and lead contented lives.
In Taiwan, however, things are different. Possibly as a result of Taiwanese society being more narrow-minded, Taiwanese in-laws and husbands living in Taiwan invariably expect Vietnamese wives to "become Taiwanese," "speak less Vietnamese, not wear Vietnamese clothes, and not spend so much time with Vietnamese friends." But how could someone who grew up on fish sauce ever be forced into loving stinky tofu? When they're not accepted by their husbands' families, Vietnamese wives can spend their days depressed and moody, and consequently the husbands and families are upset, too.
As far as getting the two sexes together goes, on the Taiwanese side most Taiwanese-Vietnamese pairings are done through intermediaries and lack a stable emotional foundation. The husband often neglects any emotional development after the marriage, making it seem hard for his wife, who traveled all this way, to get any consolation. "What woman doesn't want to be loved?" asks Tran, who encourages Taiwanese men to not be stingy about showing their emotions. She cites her husband as an example--he often considerately tries to express his love for her in Vietnamese, and "although his Vietnamese is a bit rough, it's still very moving."
A daughter's duty
The number of Vietnamese brides coming to Taiwan has been rising rapidly in recent years, already making up as much as 60% of the total number of foreign brides, so that Tran is busier than ever. As well as helping her fellow countrywomen adapt to their new lives, she rushes from place to place doing classes and speeches, all in the hope of helping Taiwanese understand Vietnam and Vietnamese brides better and of reducing the level of prejudice, and thereby helping clear up the misunderstandings that people have about this kind of marriage.
At first, Tran says, she was strongly opposed to the kind of "fast-food marriage" that's so popular in Taiwan, and she couldn't understand why so many Vietnamese girls would choose this way to marry and come to Taiwan. Later, after meeting some of those same girls, she started to realize that they were acting out of a sense of filial piety, or perhaps the desire for a better life, and summoning up the courage to come to Taiwan, which was terra incognita for them. This kind of attitude, Tran realized, is nothing to sneeze at.
Vietnam, says Tran, is like Taiwan was a few decades ago--girls who aren't married in their twenties have to endure pointed remarks from their friends and family. The idea that "marriage is a daughter's duty" is still particularly strong in rural areas, so matchmakers will often visit these places and try and make matches for Taiwanese men. They tell the girls how wonderful life in Taiwan is, and their words are often very persuasive. Since Taiwanese businesses are big investors in Vietnam and rural villagers are still unsophisticated and without much in the way of information, many of them believe the matchmakers when they say how luxurious life in Taiwan will be, and happily send their daughters off to marry.
But what do the daughters think of this? "I've heard so many people say how great Taiwanese men are--so considerate and family-oriented--that getting an emotional connection after meeting and marrying him shouldn't be a problem." Such is the belief of many of the girls from poor families. If they can marry into a family in a developed nation, they'll have the chance to improve their family's situation, or find work, or learn new things, so it's worth a shot!
In many rural villages in Vietnam the belief that marrying to Taiwan guarantees a happy life is deeply ingrained, because even though many find life less than great in Taiwan, most of them resign themselves to their fate and work hard at the relationship, never wanting to let their families know how they feel for fear of worrying their parents or losing face in front of loved ones.
These courageous, resilient, vivacious Vietnamese girls, because of their limited ability to express themselves in their new language and their being unaccustomed to the local lifestyle, are looked upon by Taiwanese society as "ignorant," "slow-witted," and "dependent on others." Tran considers this most unfair.
Some time ago a well-known Taiwanese magazine ran a story on "Taiwan's Children on the Banks of the Mekong," describing the lives of some 3000 Taiwanese-Vietnamese children who, because their parents were so busy working to make a living, had been sent to Vietnam to live with their mothers' families. They called it a tragic story of children who "had lost it all, were living in remoteness and hardship, and had lost all hope of a good upbringing." This stirred the compassion of Taiwanese and led to masses of donations of money; but it stirred the ire of Tran, who wrote in reply to the report.
"Those smiling children living by the banks of the Mekong with their families are not 'deprived,' nor are they in need of other people's help to survive. Life in rural Vietnam is simple, but it is pleasant, and there is never any lack of love in the families. Culture and being well raised have nothing to do with how much money your family has," she wrote. The rich agriculture of the Mekong Delta not only makes that area self-sufficient, it also provides assistance to people living under oppression and food shortages in North Korea and Cuba. The so-called "kindness" of donors was more an example of the superiority complex of Taiwanese society.
Tran's words were a wake-up call for Taiwanese to their ignorance about and biased attitudes toward Vietnam and Vietnamese brides, and how difficult this was making it for those women to integrate into Taiwanese society. Only by really making an effort to understand and openly acknowledge the strengths of others will the two sides be able to establish any kind of mutual trust and really be able to help the situation.
Tran, who has earned awards large and small, has recently been named one of Taipei City's "Ten Most Iconic People," but still takes time out to help her son prepare for his Halloween performance, getting someone else to cover for her in her classes. However, she has yet to hand off any of her responsibility to her fellow countrywomen and their children. The next step this superwoman wants to take is to get involved with kindergarten and elementary school teachers. "By helping more of these people working on the front lines to understand Vietnamese culture, we can give those half-Vietnamese children here more self-confidence, and a better tomorrow."