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NIA employee shares her own experience with new immigrants

At the Taipei Service Center of the National Immigration Agency, Hoang Oanh is explaining how to apply for residency to a Vietnamese woman who has just arrived in Taiwan after marrying a local man.

Hoang easily earns the woman's confidence with her fluent Vietnamese — and her knowledge of the problems facing Taiwan's new immigrants.

Hoang herself immigrated from Vietnam almost 20 years ago. The past two decades have seen her go from a stranger in a foreign land where even basic communication was a problem to the Taiwan's first naturalized government employee.

Before she came to Taiwan, she started working as an accountant at a factory in Ho Chi Minh City after graduating high school in 1994. It was there that she met the factory owner, a Taiwanese man, whom she married in 1995.

While her husband had to stay in Vietnam to look after his factory, he wanted his children to grow up in Taiwan.

As a result, Hoang, who now goes by the Chinese name Yen Pei-ying, ended up living with her parents-in-law, making communication an immediate problem despite having learned some basic Chinese in school.

The language barrier led to frequent misunderstandings with her relatives. Her loneliness and inability to fit in left her more than once considering getting a divorce so that she could head home.

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