Opportunity in Vietnam - Diane Lee

On opportunity in Vietnam

This is the 11th essay in the #26essays2017 challenge that I’ve set for myself this year. I’m doing this because I’m the first to admit I’ve become a lazy writer: allowing guest posts and series and cross-posting to make up the bulk of content on The Diane Lee Project across 2016. The brave, fearless writing that readers admired and respected me for has all but disappeared. This year—2017—will be different. I’m reclaiming my voice—my write like a motherfucker voice! 

Opportunity (noun) – a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do anything.

A few weeks back, I wrote about opportunity in Australia… and how there isn’t any. Not really.

Everything is so hard, so difficult in Australia. Too many obstacles, too many barriers. If Australia could just get out of the way of itself, it would be a much better country. And from my vantage point in Vietnam, it’s pretty much fucked (and a lot of other Australian expats are saying the same thing).

Vietnam, on the other hand, is flourishing. It’s one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, if not the world. It’s a vibrant country, driven by industrious, hard-working people wanting a better life for their families.

And I couldn’t have landed here at a better time, because I’m flourishing too.

I landed here on a wing and a prayer… and a volunteering job.

I assumed that a tertiary educated, highly experienced, native English speaker would be in demand. I was correct. English—and what’s more the ability to write English well—has meant that I’ve been able to walk into jobs here that would be a closed door back in Australia.

When I landed here, because I had money behind me, I was able to think about what I really wanted to do. I could have found an English teaching job, which is what most expats do, but I decided not to (I landed a teaching job on my second day in Hanoi. It fell through, and that was a good thing). My goal was to build my writing and freelance writing career, which was impossible to do back in Australia because of those pesky closed doors I mentioned. I also wanted to do portfolio work: I didn’t want to work for one person. I wanted to do bits and pieces.

I assumed that a tertiary educated, highly experienced, native English speaker would be in demand. I was correct.

So this is how easily things have happened…

The first freelance writing gig I landed was writing for Word Vietnam, a beautifully produced magazine for expats. I simply sent an email in December to the editor asking if they needed writers. They did, and I was hired more or less on the spot.

The second gig I landed was an editing job. I answered a call-out for a native English speaking proofreader on Facebook. That’s right: on Facebook. I sent my CV through and again, was hired on the spot. That was in January.

In February, I scored a part-time content writing gig through my expat network. It was writing for a start-up, and even though I decided not to work for them, it was nice to be approached. It was even nicer to be able to say “no thanks”.

In April, my volunteering job at KOTO turned into a paid one. I am now writing funding proposals for Mr Jimmy and work directly with him. This is a part-time role, and my dream job. It involves strategy and writing and travel around Asia.

In May, I was contacted by the Paradise Group, a luxury travel brand based in Hanoi who needed a freelance English writer. This gig literally appeared in my inbox from nowhere. I started working for them last week.

My point is that this kind of thing does not happen in Australia. At least not to me.

And that’s why I’ll be in Vietnam indefinitely.

It’s too good an opportunity to miss.


Photo of the Don Xuan Market, Hanoi by me. 

10 comments

    1. Thank you, Laura. In a few short months, I have managed to reinvent myself. It’s been surprisingly easy to do. I only wish I’d done it years ago, motherhood notwithstanding 😉

  1. Having followed you through your writing – and having enjoyed your writing – for many years now, this is pretty great to read. So very glad how things have happened for you.

    1. Thank you, Sukh. I seem to have found my spiritual “home”. This country – and its people – have been so kind to me. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunities I have <3

      PS - I hope you are well and loving life!

  2. Oh wow. Congratulations, Diane! I didn’t realise you’ve moved. And, it looks like you’ve landed firmly on your feet. That’s incredible.

    I’m with you regarding opportunities here in Australia. I’m encountering similar roadblocks and obstacles. As a migrant, I’m finding extra challenges. At least, in my experience. Not sure if it’s just Adelaide.

    Anyway, I’m happy for you that you’ve found what you’re looking for. Wish you all the best with the rest of your adventure!

    1. Thank you, Shai. I’ve been absolutely blessed since coming to Vietnam. Everything is so EASY here. And if Vietnam operated the way Australia did, the whole country would come to a standstill. Nothing would get done! It’s been eye-opening to compare my experience in both two countries, that’s for sure.

      1. So pleased that you’re enjoying it there, Diane. I’ve never been to Vietnam but I’ve heard a lot of good things. 🙂 Australia can be tough, but having said that, it has been mostly good to me and my family since hubby and I moved here. Just having a rough patch at the moment, I hope! Looking forward to reading more about your life there and personally curious to know more about KOTO. 🙂

        1. Vietnam is a wonderful country. I love the people, the food, the lifestyle, the opportunities. Even the weather. KOTO does the most wonderful work. It really does change lives, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

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