Recently, on my trip to New Delhi from Vancouver, I was almost detained at Heathrow Airport in London, as the UK immigration officers believed I did not have the necessary travel documents. I was asked to sign a form to acknowledge that I was being detained for attempting to enter the UK illegally, which was never my intention (I was en route to India!). If I were Caucasian looking and carrying a Canadian passport, would you even stop me? Just because there were episodes of Vietnamese illegally immigrating to the UK doesn’t mean that all Vietnamese passport holders are illegal immigrants, sir.


“You sound like you’re Vietnamese. Are you here to study?” the cab driver peered at my reflection the in the rear-view mirror.

“Yes I’m studying high school here”.

“Oh good then, ‘coz you know, a lot of Vietnamese girls come to Singapore, and they go work in Geylang (the red light district in Singapore)” the cab driver responded with a smile, as if he were relieved on my behalf that I’m not like my hapless country (wo)men who have to earn a living by selling their bodies.

So just because I’m a Vietnamese girl living in Singapore, you’d have to assume that I work in the red light district? But what if I did work there, so what? That doesn’t mean that I’m stripped off all my dignity, that I’m the unwanted element of the society.

I’m a Vietnamese. I’m a woman. And that should be okay wherever I live, or wherever I go.