Vietnamese Jens Dao in Denmark: I have taken the best of two cultures with me

Photo: Søren Gylling

Jens Dao’s mother was pregnant with him when his family came to Denmark as boat refugees from Vietnam over 30 years ago. Today he is a hardworking individual and he works as a clinical dental technician in his own clinic while he is also the co-owner of two Vietnamese restaurants. Although there are major cultural differences between Denmark and Vietnam, Jens Dao believes he has taken the best of the two cultures with him through life.

Media JydskeVestkysten has in their Christmas calendar this year asked several people to choose one thing that has a special meaning or a special story for their Christmas Box. Jens Dao has chosen a wrench as it’s an indispensable tool for him, but it also symbolizes that he can build something completely from scratch with his own hands – which is what he has done his whole life.

“For me, it is of great value to be independent of others and be able to create something myself,” he says and adds “It’s probably something I learned at home.”

Although Jens Dao’s parents did not know the Danish language when they arrived from Vietnam, it only took them two years before they opened their first grocery store. “They would handle things themselves and not wait for someone to come and help them,” Jens Dao explains.

“Maybe I have taken the best of two cultures with me. In Vietnam, people are diligent and work hard, and I have done that myself. For a period, I worked in the clinic from eight to 4 pm every day and then went straight down to my restaurant and worked on until 11 pm,” Jens Dao says.

“In Denmark, I have learned to be honest and helpful to others. Those traits are seen less frequently in Vietnam, where only the strongest survive. Here you learn to manage yourself because there is no social safety net if things go wrong. That’s why I grew up learning that nothing will come by itself – and the wrench symbolizes that very well,” he says.

Jens Dao feels like he has come pretty far in life so far and as he owns his own clinic and co-owns two restaurants he would like to expand even more.

“If it fails, then I can look back and know I tried. I would rather fail than not have tried at all,” Jens Dao says.

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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