Jobs and activities for old Vietnamese people

My parents have just moved to California last March. They are working in my aunt's laundry shop as they planned to buy it from her. It didn't work out as she wanna sell it at a too unreasonable price based on the shop's conditions. They are still working there for her but I can see my father can't keep up well with his new life.

We have everything in Vietnam but they wanted to go to USA and work or do business in order to help their children (3 of us, with families) to go there, despite that we don't need to go and told them to stay.

They are in USA with my youngest brother and we're all worried about them, especially my father. While my mom and brother are getting used to life in USA, he seems to get worse. He loves football and still played every evening until he moved. Now he seems depressed and sad, inactive. He stays in their room after work, only go out for dinner :( He used to call us everyday to talk to my son. Now I have to call him and he doesn't even want to talk. He used to watch us on camera almost everyday but stops now.

I guess it's because he has to work whole day in basement in heat with heavy work in laundry shop, plus stress from living with my aunt's family (my aunt is my mom's sister). But it's hard to move out now.

Is there any site or place that an old Vietnamese worker can look for job?
Normally what kind of jobs are suitable for them?
What should an old Vietnamese man do to heat up his spirit? Any activities for them?
I'm also looking for job for my younger brother. He's 24, also helping my aunt at his laundry shop and studying English.

I'm working hard and save money to sent to them but it hurts to see my father like that. Would appreciate so much for any help or information!

Hi Scarlet ,
You can access to this Vietnamese website : 

Depression caused by loneliness has been the biggest issue older Vietnamese expats have had to deal with for several decades now.  Even when living in a Vietnamese community, making friends is not easy for many older folks.  Finding a job when one doesn't speak the language and not familiar with the customs is an almost impossible task.

I truly feel for you and the problem your father is facing, but I don't think he will be able to compete in the American workforce.  Within the Vietnamese community in the States, the kind of job that is readily available to people who don't have the language and specific skills would only be service related, but not as frontline staff.  They're utilized mostly in back room (kitchen staff in restaurants, stock clerks in grocery stores, general factotum in shops and offices, etc.)  Often, they're paid less than minimum wage (which at the moment is between $7.25 and $10.50/hr, depending on the state) and more often than not, they aren't treated very fairly.

You asked about activities that lift an older person's spririt.  Older Vietnamese who don't need to work often hang out at specific coffee shops to shoot the breeze with other retirees, volunteer at churches or Buddhist temples, teaching Sunday schools to Vietnamese children, participate in Vietnamese civic organisations, etc.  None of those would suit your father, since based on what you told us, he's not in the US to enjoy his retirement years.

I don't know if returning home is an option for him, but I would wholeheartdly recommend that.  In VN, he at least has his friends, his family, his affinity with football, his familiarity with the customs, his throughout knowledge with the ins and outs of society.  In the States, he has to start a new life with many disadvantages and without much support from his relatives.  Easy to see which picture is more pleasing to the eyes.

For most people, finance is certainly tighter in VN than in the US, but for newcomers (especially the older ones), to live and work in the States, the trade-off for more money can be intolerable sometimes.

As for your brother, his priority would be the language.  He needs to speak English fluently first before he could find a decent job.  After living in CA for one year (with proof of residency -- rent, utility bills, ID/driver license --  he can enroll in a community college and pay the lower in-state tuition.  He should concentrate on English classes plus the prerequisites.  A degree may or may not be needed for decent employment, but no decent job can be had when the applicant is not fluent in English.

Thank you very much!

I totally agree with Ciambella. I have heard that many Vietnamese do not need to study English because they live and work around Vietnamese areas. Do your parents live in those Vietnamese community in Cali? Don't they get support from everyone around? Do your parents plan to work and save money to buy the laundry  shop from your aunty ? Do they have cars?

I totally understand the reasons why your parents become quiet. To start a new life in a new country is not easy. It requires people to be more active to learn and adapt the differences. This is a very active country in which old people act very different from how old people act in Vietnam. People are very social and independent. They need to have a car, and study English first.

Dear Scarlet,

I am sorry to hear about the sad circumstances your father is encountering after having come all the way from Vietnam.  Where in California do your parents live?  I have a good friend who is from Vietnam and who moved from the East Coast, where I met her, to the area of Los Angeles, to take care of her old parents.  I cannot promise anything, but perhaps I can make a connection.  Her parents have lived in California for a long time, and my friend is very happy in California.  This should be a source of ideas.

A bit about myself: I grew up in Germany and have lived in the United States since 1991.  I made a friend in HCM City about 2 years ago, started learning Vietnamese about 1 year ago and went to Vietnam for the first time this past summer.  My exploration of Vietnam came somewhat unexpected, and now I am very excited about learning more about the country and learning the language.

Best wishes,

You can try the website  . My friends went there all the time

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