Taiwan Lit Up My Life

—Nguyen Thu Hang Breaks Down Stereotypes

2019 / October

Esther Tseng /photos courtesy of Nguyen Thu Hang /tr. by Geof Aberhart

In 2018 Nguyen Thu Hang, a teacher of Vietnamese and writer of Vietnamese pronunciation guides, was invited to be the first Southeast-Asian immigrant to host the National Day ceremony. Prior to this, spotting the rising wave of Taiwanese You­Tubers, she started a channel of her own to share Taiwanese and Vietnamese culture—“Hang TV,” which has since blown past 100,000 subscribers and become an online sensation.

As the invited host of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council’s Taiwan Expo in Vietnam, held in Hanoi, Nguyen Thu Hang, clad in a traditional Vietnamese ao dai, presented confidently in both Mandarin and Vietnamese, introducing Taiwan’s top traders to Vietnamese manufacturers.

Frequently invited to host dinners for the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, Hang this year began lecturing for beginner’s Vietnamese courses at Shih Hsin University, while also writing her second book on Vietnamese pronunciation and continuing to produce weekly videos for her YouTube channel Hang TV. To say she leads a busy life would hardly be an exaggeration.

Ten years ago, though, things were quite different. Fresh out of high school in Vietnam, she spent her days at home playing video games until a year later, in 2010, she decided to go to Taiwan to study, a decision that would prove a turning point that led to the remarkable life she leads today.

A tough life as a foreign student

“Back then my mom was working as a domestic helper in Taiwan for about NT$17,000 a month, but my tuition was NT$36,000 a semester, plus we still had family debts to pay off.” To lighten the load on her mother, during her first year in Taiwan Hang lived with her mother at her employer’s home, saving on rent and using her free time and vacations for work.

“Summer vacations were particularly valuable because there are no restrictions then on the hours a foreign student can work.” In the mornings she worked in a breakfast shop, and at lunchtimes in a self-service ­canteen. Then, in the after­noons, she sold tickets at a lottery store, and in the evenings she was a waitress for a stir-fry restaurant. “I grew up in a poor family and came to Taiwan for a chance at a new life,” says Hang.

Then, in the midst of all this hard work, opportunity knocked. In 2015, while guesting on a TV program for Southeast-Asian immigrants on CTS, Hang happened to meet John Li, who was helping a friend with some advertising work. The two hit it off almost immediately.

After Hang began teaching Vietnamese part time and Li became her student, the two began working together, thinking up ways to make language teaching more attractive to students. They took singer Wakin Chau’s well-known classic “Friends” and used it as the basis for a Vietnamese teaching video. They entered the video in a competition for migrant workers and foreign students, and despite being total newcomers, saw their video shared over 100 times and got thousands of new fans on their own Facebook pages.

With a new wave of YouTube video creators on the rise in Taiwan at the time, the pair seized the opportunity and in 2016 started Hang TV, uploading videos teaching Vietnamese and introducing Hang’s life in Taiwan.

Lighting up her daughter’s future

One particular video, “My Mother the Foreign Domestic Helper,” touched many viewers. Hang’s mother’s time in Taiwan came to an end in 2018. When they went to see her off at the airport as she headed back to Vietnam, every­one was weeping, no-one more so than her now former employer—everyone, that is, except for the elder Nguyen. A lot of viewers were puzzled: why didn’t she cry too?

“Actually I felt quite sad for my mom! Before she came to Taiwan she was fragile, and whenever something painful happened she would dwell on it and cry to the point she’d almost pass out,” explains Hang.

After 14 years of working in Taiwan, though, she had become as strong as steel and much less openly emotional. “She swallowed all the loneliness and homesickness she felt and the hardships of her work, and by the time she left, she had no more tears to cry. She just went straight to Customs and never looked back,” Hang says, welling up.

After a moment’s hesitation, Hang then reveals, “Later on I found out that when my mom had just arrived in Taiwan, her employer would only let her have one boxed meal a day, half for lunch and half for dinner!” Even when Hang’s grandmother passed away, her mother couldn’t attend the funeral because of her work in Taiwan. All Hang could do was read out the eulogy sent over by her mother, which brought all the family members in attendance to tears.

Hang’s mother hoped her daughters could marry into good families, but after returning to Vietnam at the end of her first stint working in Taiwan, she realized that the family was still living in such poor conditions that it would probably hurt the girls’ prospects if any interested party should visit them at home. To solve this, she borrowed money from relatives to build a house and get her daughters educations, and then set off back to Taiwan to earn money and pay back the debt.

Breaking down stereotypes

In 2018, Hang and Li tied the knot. Today, the YouTube channel they run together has more than 100,000 subscribers and continues to do remarkably well.

With the two of them profoundly aware of the often erroneous, yet deeply rooted stereotypes Taiwanese and Vietnamese have of one another, Hang and her husband hope that her story and his Taiwanese perspective can help them serve as a bridge between the two cultures for their viewers.

As an illustration, Hang notes that when Taiwanese people learn she’s from Vietnam, their first assumption is often that she was a mail-order bride. After she explains that she came over as a foreign student, they then assume that since she’s married to a Taiwanese man, they must have gone through a matchmaker and he must be old and ugly.

At first, this was a constant source of anger for Hang, but over time she realized that even in Vietnam when people heard she had married a Taiwanese man their first response was often that she had done it for money. Breaking down these prejudices and stereotypes became the core mission of their videos, out of a sense of responsibility to society.

When she hosts big events, the organizers will generally introduce her as a “new resident from Vietnam” or an “Internet celebrity from Vietnam.” “Those are both me, but the one I really don’t like is being introduced as ‘Vietnam’s Tzuyu’ [referring to the Taiwanese member of Korean girl group Twice]. I hope that when people get to know me, they can just take me for who I am, and call me ‘Nguyen Thu Hang, from Vietnam.’”

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文‧曾蘭淑 圖‧阮秋姮

出生在偏僻北越農村的阮秋姮,高中畢業後茫茫然,無所事事。靠著在台灣幫傭的媽媽辛苦存下來的積蓄,阮秋姮2010年決定來台灣留學,課餘辛勤打工,教授越南語、撰寫越語發音書,並且受邀主持2018年國慶典禮,是第一位主持國慶大典的新住民;她更掌握機先,經營「Hang TV - 越南夯台灣」頻道,成為突破十萬粉絲的網紅,亦是介紹台越文化的平台。


經常受邀主持駐台北越南經濟文化辦事處晚宴的阮秋姮,今年開始在世新大學擔任「越南語入門」的講師,同時籌劃撰寫第二本越南語發音的書,還是「Hang TV - 越南夯台灣」頻道的網紅,每週拍片錄製節目,生活忙碌且充實。









當時正逢YouTube頻道興起,他們抓住機會,在2016年底創立了「Hang TV - 越南夯台灣」頻道,將她的越語教學、自傳,在台灣生活的經驗作成影片上傳。阮秋姮為了精益求精,到台灣師範大學課程與教學研究所進修,並且寫了專書《我的第一本越南語發音》,幫助想學越南語的台商與台灣學生。


在「Hang TV - 越南夯台灣」頻道的影片中,「我的媽媽是外籍幫傭」的故事,感動了許多網友。當阮媽媽2018年在台灣工作期滿準備返回越南,在機場送行時,每人都掉下分離的眼淚,尤其是她的雇主更是哭得淅瀝嘩啦,只有阮媽媽沒有掉一滴淚。但也很多網友不解,為何阮媽媽沒有哭?









阮秋姮與厲家揚在2018年結成連理,兩人共同經營的「Hang TV - 越南夯台灣」頻道在2018年底時也累積2萬5千個訂閱人數。





阮秋姮與厲家揚決定從2018年11月起更認真經營「Hang TV — 越南夯台灣」頻道,每週上傳一支影片,至今已突破十萬訂閱量,成績斐然。




文・曾蘭淑 写真・阮秋姮 翻訳・久保 恵子

ベトナム北部の貧しい農村に生れた阮秋姮は、高校卒業後に何をしていいかわからなかったが、母が台湾で家政婦をして苦労して貯めた貯蓄を頼りに、2010年に台湾に留学することにした。授業の合間にアルバイトとしてベトナム語を教え、ベトナム語の発音の本を書いた阮秋姮は、2018年の国慶節に式典において、新住民として初めて司会を務めた。機を見るに敏な彼女は、台湾とベトナムを結ぶ動画チャンネル「Hang TV」を運営し、10万のチャンネル登録者を有する人気YouTuberとなった。


阮秋姮は駐台北ベトナム経済文化事務所が主催するパーティーにもしばしば司会として招かれ、今年から世新大学でベトナム語入門講座の講師を務め、二冊目のベトナム語発音教科書の出版を準備しつつ、Hang TVチャンネルに毎週動画をアップするなど、生活は忙しく充実している。








YouTubeが盛んになり始めた頃で、2016年に二人は「Hang TV」を開設し、ベトナム語講座、台湾での生活などの動画をアップした。


この「Hang TV」にアップした動画「母は外国人家政婦」の物語が多くの感動を呼んだ。その母が台湾での契約を終え帰国するとき、見送りの人は別れを惜しみ、雇い主は涙を流していたが、母は泣くことはなかった。その光景に、なぜ泣かないのかとフォロワーは不審に思ったという。








阮秋姮と厲家揚は2018年に結婚した。二人でYouTubeチャンネル「Hang TV」を運営し、今までに登録者数10万を超えている。





X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!