Zart-Bitter

Tender-Bitter Photo: Nguyen Thanh Huong © Goethe-Institut Hanoi

In 2017, the Goethe Institute Hanoi held a competition entitled “Tender-Bitter”, calling for submissions by Vietnamese migrants to Germany sharing their first-hand experience of the country. In their linguistic and temporal diversity, the nineteen submissions fill the idea of interculturality with life, German history and German-Vietnamese stories. They are true real-life experiences, often touching, rich and diverse in their complexity, encouraging readers to reflect on what makes us call a place home.

Contributions | Authors

“I came to the German Democratic Republic on August 23rd, 1982, with the intention of training for a job. In 1989, I went to the Federal Republic to train as a hotel manager and to get to know the cradle of science and philosophy. Today, I work in real estate in Berlin.”

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Do Vu Hoai An has been in Germany since 1988. He loves Germany as his second home, and Germany loves him back, offers him protection and security. The people and the country bring him an incredible amount of joy. Thanks the competition of Goethe Institute he has wonderful opportunity to write about Germany, about tender and sweet, but also bitter memories of the past thirty years.

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Tam came to Germany as an au-pair in September of 2014 and is now pursuing vocational training as a hotel manager at the Novotel Berlin near the zoo.

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Tai first came to Germany in March of 2015 for a language course. He then studied Construction Engineering at TU Munich. He is a member of IKOM, has been living in Germany for two and a half years now, and found out that Germans keep asking “Are you enjoying it?” because they not only care that a job gets done, but also that it is fun.

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Xuân has been in Germany since 2015 and is currently pursuing vocational training as a geriatric nurse.

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Nguyen Phuong Mai was born on April 19th, 1992, under the zodiac sign of Aries, lives and studies in Baden-Württemberg and loves walking, shopping, decorating her home, and cooking. Her favorite animals are dogs, especially puppies. Her favorite quote is: “Do not pluck the flower you love. For when you pluck it, it will die and the thing you love will wither. So leave your beloved flower alone. Don’t love it because you want to own it. Love it because you cherish it.” (Osho)

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“I’m from Cổ Đô, Ba V., Hanoi City. I came to Germany in 1982 to study and to work. I am currently living in Chemnitz with my family. Writing literary texts and poems is one of my hobbies.”

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Huyen came to Germany in 1988 to study at the Film Academy in Potsdam. After her graduation in 1993, she decided to pursue another degree in Social Work and Pedagogy in 2008, which she completed in 2010. She works for the Autonomous Women’s Center Potsdam as a social educator with the girl’s group “Zimtzicken”.

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Hằng is from Hanoi. She is currently studying Sociology and Education at the University of Mainz. She already studied German at the National University in Hanoi and in 2013, she spent a year in Germany as an au-pair. After that she first returned to Vietnam, but her love for Germany brought her back. She mainly wrote about the simple things in life, and she would like to share her experiences with you in the hope it may help you get settled abroad.

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Thủy was born in 1992 in Nha Trang. She came to German in May of 2013. She studies at Georg Simon Ohm University in Nuremberg. She grew up with a single mom, and her childhood wasn’t always easy, which is why she is keen to soon complete her studies. It’s also the reason she wanted to study in Germany at all cost. She loves her country very much and still hopes to be able to contribute to its development one day.

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Nhu Ngoc came to Germany in 2013 for a year of volunteering. She is now pursuing vocational training as a special needs professional caregiver.

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Diem was an au-pair in Germany from 2012 to 2013. She now is a third-year student at the University of Kassel with a major in Germany as a Foreign Language. This is how she describes herself:
“My name is Diem, I was born in 1990 and my nickname is Diễm xưa. I’m from the hectic and wonderful city of Saigon where the streets are lined with countless motorcycles and Tamarind trees. I live and work in the Federal Republic of Germany. My mantra is to be as cheerful as possible, to always stay optimistic, and to love life. Also, I want to do everything I can to understand the people around me. This is the motto I would like to share: Don’t stay in your comfort zone, leave your bubble. Do things that are uncomfortable or scary so you can grow and keep getting stronger. Live responsibly and always stay open towards new things in life!”

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Lan has been in Germany since September of 2015 and is pursuing vocational training as a professional caregiver.

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Hai Yen has been in Germany since September of 2016. She has a degree in business administration and works as a financial adviser and business consultant for a bank.

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I have been living in Germany since 1987 – since I came to the GDR as a young girl. I enjoy cooking, writing literary texts and poems and doing social work to help other people. That brings me joy. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was a radio host for a multicultural radio show on SFB in Berlin for many years. I love my second home, I’m grateful to Germany, a country full of human kindness.
 
Bich Phuong has been a guest worker in Germany since 1987. She works as a nurse and lives in Berlin.

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“I am a PhD candidate in Pedagogy and East Asian Studies as well as a research assistant at the Institute for Intercultural and International Comparative Pedagogy at the University of Hamburg. My research interest is mainly educational and migration research (with a focus on the educational success Turkish and Vietnamese students in Germany) as well as school development and multilingualism. Outside of my academic life, I work and write for German-Vietnamese children’s book publisher HORAMI in Berlin. I live in Lübeck with my husband and our daughter.”

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Ngoc has been living in Germany since 2015. She is a Master’s student in Landshut.

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Van Tat Thang was born in 1958 in Hanoi. After serving in the army for almost a decade, he went to the German Democratic Republic as a contract worker. Today, his family is enjoying a good and stable life in Germany. His older daughter completed her Master’s degree and his younger son has also completed his training and works at a workshop for the disabled because he suffers from autism. His path to integration was strewn with sweet and tender as well as bitter experiences. He wrote about a civilized and humane Germany, about a society that lives under the rule of law, and about Germans who may seem cool and distant, but have a loving, tolerant heart. He loves this country and he considers Germany his second home.

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Van Tat Thang was born in 1958 in Hanoi. After serving in the army for almost a decade, he went to the German Democratic Republic as a contract worker. Today, his family is enjoying a good and stable life in Germany. His older daughter completed her Master’s degree and his younger son has also completed his training and works at a workshop for the disabled because he suffers from autism. His path to integration was strewn with sweet and tender as well as bitter experiences. He wrote about a civilized and humane Germany, about a society that lives under the rule of law, and about Germans who may seem cool and distant, but have a loving, tolerant heart. He loves this country and he considers Germany his second home.

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