“I’ve learned to see difficulties as just phases in life. If I fall down, I know that I will get up and receive an important lesson in the process. So I never give up,” Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao says proudly.
Abandoned at 2 months old, Thao spent her entire childhood at an orphanage in Hue, in central Vietnam.
Upon graduating from high school, she learned her dream of becoming a physical education teacher would never come true because she did not reach the college’s height requirement. At 18 years old, Thao hadplenty of ambition but understandably lacked confidence and was left without a plan for her life.
Thao then learned about STREETS and realized that another door might be open to a brighter future. “I was so nervous during the application interview for STREETS because I didn’t know a single word of English. But I was determined to join the program,” Thao says. Thanks to her passion and perseverance, she was accepted into the 18-month residential training program where she honed her hospitality and Englishskills.
The committed STREETS teachers and staff helped her gain new knowledge and also taught her about the power of persistence. “I had so much trouble memorizing culinary terms in English. I had to write down the word “pumpkin” a thousand times before I could remember it properly.” After graduating from the program, she started her career at the STREETS Restaurant Café.
After a year, Thao had the skills and confidence to venture beyond what was familiar to her. She moved onto the five-star Laguna Lang Co Resort in Hue and then the Salinda Resort on Phu Quoc Island. During a visit to Salinda, a manager from the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore noticed her professionalism and enthusiasm and offered her a position. “I could hardly believe that I’d been given such an opportunity for my career and my life!” she exclaims. Thao relied on what she’d learned from STREETS for her position at the Fairmont Singapore Hotel as a Food and Beverage Service Executive. “I gained from my teachers and time at STREETS not onlytangible skills but also a strong work ethic; I give every task my all.” Her talents and motivation resulted in recognition in the company newsletter and a promotion to Front Office Service Executive.
“Joining STREETS was the greatest opportunity of my life. I now have bigger dreams than I ever thought possible. I hope to study more about management and one day open my own restaurant.” Thao remains connected to the orphanage where she grew up, helping children who might want to pursue a similar career path with STREETS.
She also donates a portion of her salary to help high school students in rural areas of Vietnam pursue their educations.