Languages are a big part of my life and continue to be a source of fascination. I have a degree in linguistics from the University of Sydney.
I know Vietnamese because it’s the language I was raised in. My parents left Vietnam by boat on 1 May 1980 and were resettled in Australia. I was born in Adelaide and raised in Sydney, so English is my dominant language and the only one I know how to write in.
I know some French because I learned it in high school and have since spent time in France including a wonderful summer in Paris when I was 30. Even though I have long loved French, I felt conflicted learning it even back then. But it has always been a familiar language given the colonial history in Vietnam. But regardless I believe human languages to be precious and I am always interested in learning new languages, even if I have misgivings about various nationalisms. It took me ages to get around to learning Chinese but when I did that felt even more natural given how much greater the colonial influence in Vietnam was.
I know some Thai because I lived in Chiang Mai for over a year, working as the managing editor for an agency focused on global health communication. I had a Thai tutor who I saw twice a week for private lessons, and I can somehow still remember the Thai alphabet and read a little.
I know a tiny bit of Dutch and a bit more Italian because I spent a year living in Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy to undertake an Erasmus Mundus Master of Bioethics. I had the generous support of a European Commission scholarship and graduated magna cum laude.