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.