How I become an Ambassador of Xin Chao 

Back in 2012, I graduated from a local high school in Dong Nai province and started to conquer my dream by entering a university in Saigon with English major. Lots of my friends chose to stay in my hometown, some got married after graduation, some started their businesses by their parents’ help, some failed the entrance exam to the universities and ended by working in factories. I was a shy high school girl, even though I loved English, I did not have confidence to communicate and was afraid of making mistakes. It was not a good start at the university because I was not able to listen and speak. My pronunciation was one of my weaknesses since the teachers in my hometown did not focus on and each of them had his way of pronunciation. So, besides studying in the university, I tried to find some part-time jobs related to English speaking. My first part-time job was as a cashier in District 7 and yes, it was an English-speaking job. Then, I worked as a Teaching Assistant for an English center for Korean kids. It was fun but I realized my English did not improve and I still could not communicate well. I also joined an English group to talk with foreigners passing by the parks, but the problem was they did not have lots of time and too many students wanted to practice English at the same time.

While I was desperately finding a way to improve my English, my friend told me that Xinchao was looking for an English-speaking guide for the food tour at night. I immediately signed up and we had a meeting with the founder, Mr. Loc. At first, we wanted to do it free because we considered it was a chance to meet the native speaker and practice English, but Mr. Loc said that he did not want us to do it free because he wanted us to have a responsibility while doing the job. Besides, he shared with us his stories and his inspiration for doing this startup. I’m impressed with his enthusiasm, his spirit of leaving a good impression on foreigners’ hearts when they travel to Vietnam. Last but not least, he gave me the love of my country in general and Saigon in particular. Until now, I still remembered his words “I do not need an excellent English speaker, I expect a person with English communication level but love to show the foreigners about how you love your city, your cultures, your amazing country and want to take them to the best authentic food of where you live in. The foreigners only stay here for 1 or 2 night and you are the one that they spent most of the time with besides their travel partners/families, even the tour guides, they go with them on the tour, but they never get close to each member in the group like you. Therefore, you are an ambassador of your city. Leave nothing but laugh and good memories of how friendly, kind and lovely the locals are!”

After that day, I was doing a lot of researches and understood more about my country, what to say, what topics should work and millions of things to introduce to my future foreign friends. I was super nervous while doing the first tour!! I had practiced may times at home what I would say and prepared the topics well, but still, I was afraid of my speaking. I tried each second on the tour just to talk to my foreign friend about the food, the city, the life and the chaotic but organized traffic. Lucky that my friend understood in general and tried to correct my pronunciation and taught me how they would say in the English, not Vietnamese translation.

Day by day practicing and interacting with the native speakers, my English had improved significantly especially listening and speaking skills. I realized that the job has changed my life so much. From a shy girl who was always afraid of making mistakes, I become more confident and comfortable while speaking English, I found joy in everything I do and become more positive. At school, I also performed better and graduated with a good result in my major.

It’s been 6 years since I started my first foodie tour and the love for it never fades out even a bit. I love the smile, the stories we share on the tour, the life lessons and a true friendship between Xinchao’s members and across borders.  I am not who I am now without Xinchao. It’s given me a chance to shine, to become the best version of myself and above all, I learn how to cherish every day I live, to give and to share. It inspires me to pursue my dreams, to believe in myself and dare to get out of my comfort zone.