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HOME > Organization Overview > Internships and In-Field Learning > Creating an Intercultural City – Hamamatsu City > Intercultural Cities (ICC) > Interview of Local Foreign Residents :Vol.14 Certified Care Worker Nguyen Thi Bich Trang

Interview of Local Foreign Residents :Vol.14 Certified Care Worker Nguyen Thi Bich Trang

Caregiving is my calling
Bringing Japan’s excellent caregiving system to Vietnam

Trang, who grew up amidst the lush landscapes of Vietnam, was raised in a household where both parents were teachers. However, at that time, teachers in Vietnam earned low wages, making it difficult to support their family. To make ends meet, Trang’s parents ran a candy store alongside their teaching jobs while raising Trang. From a young age, Trang assisted with the candy store and worked in the fields to support her parents. She spent her childhood in the village until high school, then left her hometown to attend Ho Chi Minh University. Considering the presence of many Japanese companies in Ho Chi Minh, Trang chose to major in “Japanese Studies” at university to learn about Japan. The more she learned, she came to love it and the stronger her desire grew to work and live there. Having mastered the Japanese language, she came to Japan as an interpreter in 2014. Later, she transitioned from interpretation to the field of caregiving. Currently, she works in caregiving while organizing *preventive care salons (介護予防サロン) for the Vietnamese community in Hamamatsu. In the first half of this interview, we delve into Trang’s early life in Vietnam, her motivation for coming to Japan, and her transition to caregiving.

*Preventive Care Salons (介護予防サロン) – Facilities that offer services focused on maintaining the health and well-being of individuals, particularly the elderly, to prevent the need for long-term care.

Can you tell us about your hometown, Binh Dinh?

Binh Dinh, my hometown, is a rural area surrounded by the sea, rivers, and mountains. We didn’t get electricity until I was in second grade of elementary school. Back then, the Japanese drama “Oshin” was incredibly popular in Vietnam, and even now, care workers are often referred to as “Oshin”.

Your parents were teachers, right?

While being a teacher may be considered a stable profession in Japan, in Vietnam at that time, the salaries for teachers were very low, making it challenging for a family of four to make a living. My parents cultivated vegetables in the fields and ran a candy store near the school as a side job. I enjoyed helping out from a young age and wanted to do what I could to support my parents.


When did you become interested in Japan?

I spent my time in the village until high school. On my sister’s advice, I decided to pursue higher education. Since Ho Chi Minh City had many Japanese companies, I aspired to work for a Japanese company in the future. I enrolled in the Japanese Studies department at Ho Chi Minh University. Although I only knew about Japan from the drama “Oshin,” as I delved deeper into Japanese culture at university, my interest in Japan grew.

What aspects of Japan captured your interest?

Japanese people are polite, punctual, and dedicated to their work. I believe Japan’s economic development can be attributed to the strong work ethic of its people. Additionally, Japan experiences distinct seasons and in each season, you can enjoy different scenery. Japan also values traditional culture, celebrating festivals and events enjoyed by people of all ages, preserving a rich cultural heritage.

What motivated you to come to Japan, and how did you transition to caregiving?

After graduating from Ho Chi Minh University, I worked as an interpreter at a Vietnamese garment factory. In 2014, I came to Japan and worked as an interpreter for a technical intern training program in Mie Prefecture for two years. Although I received high praise from my superiors, I felt dissatisfied with myself as an interpreter. Despite positive evaluations from those around me, I lacked a sense of accomplishment in my work. I realized the importance of learning through work and decided to shift my focus. One day, while watching TV, I saw a program about home care services. The smiling face of an elderly woman on the show left a strong impression on me. I thought that studying caregiving would be useful for taking care of my parents in the future and considered a career in the field. After volunteering at a special nursing home in Mie Prefecture, I realized that caregiving was the job I truly wanted to pursue.

Trang embarked on a journey to study caregiving in-depth and obtained certification as a certified care worker in 2016 upon entering The University of Shizuoka Junior College. After graduating, she started working in the caregiving field in Hamamatsu. Through caregiving, she felt a closer connection to the Japanese people, and the sense of loneliness she experienced during her time as an interpreter diminished. Trang finds fulfillment in her daily work, realizing that she, too, is supported by the residents she cares for.

Hamamatsu, being the second-largest community of Vietnamese residents after Brazilians, provides a strong and supportive Vietnamese community, which Trang finds reassuring. Leveraging her knowledge, she regularly organizes preventive care salons for Vietnamese residents, offering advice and information on preventive care. In the second half, he talks about working in the caregiving profession.

How do you find working in the caregiving field?

Despite the common perception that caregiving is challenging, personally I find that it not as difficult as one might think. I believe I can work authentically, fostering genuine connections with people. Unlike my time as an interpreter, where I grappled with a sense of isolation, caring for individuals with dementia allows for direct and transparent communication. I see caregiving as a continuous learning opportunity and find it rewarding due to the growth it brings.


You organize preventive care salons for Vietnamese residents in Hamamatsu. Can you share more about that?

Hamamatsu, with its large Vietnamese population and a well-established community, allows even those with limited Japanese proficiency to live comfortably. I’ve noticed that many individuals, who may not understand Japanese, face challenges with caregiving systems and other aspects. With the goal of creating a space dedicated to preventive care and information sharing, I’ve been hosting monthly salons at a Vietnamese temple in Okubocho, Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu. I`ve held 3 of these sessions, experts, including university professors, share insights on preventive measures, exercises, ways to maintain physical well-being, Japanese culture, and more. Participants earn points per session, and accumulated points can be donated to social welfare activities. I organize these sessions regularly so that that Vietnamese residents in Hamamatsu can live a healthy and happy long life.


So what’s on the cards for you now?

In Vietnam, only those with financial means can access quality caregiving services. I aspire to establish a system where all Vietnamese individuals in need of caregiving can receive appropriate care, fostering a society where everyone can live happily. I want to commute between Japan and Vietnam and work for those in need of care. Preserving the dignity of individuals in caregiving is paramount, ensuring that seniors can remain true to themselves until the end.


We’re looking forward to hearing all about what you do next! Thank you so much for your time today.

(Interviewed on December 2023)

Nguyen Thi Bich Trang

Born in 1989, in Binh Dinh, Vietnam
Came to Japan in 2014 as a translator
2018: Graduated from Shizuoka Prefectural Junior College -Care Worker Certification
2019-present: Working at a care facility in Hamamatsu while regularly hosting preventive care salons for the Vietnamese community providing information on health management and preventive care