I was very interested in the Vietnam paid internship and spent a lot of time on the phone to an adviser at I-to-I who was very helpful patient and kind and rang me up on regular occasions to reassure me and to answer the hundreds of questions that I had about the internship so that I felt confident enough to cough up the £750 fee which pays for accommodation and the orientation over in Vietnam.
One of my questions was about my appearance, I told them that I’ve got very neat, clean dreadlocks and facial piercings and an arm tattoo which covers a scar- but along with this I also mentioned that i intended to wear my hair back in a neat bun and that I was happy to take my piercings out and would obviously cover all tattoos. In response to this I got laughed at, and told not to be silly and that this was absolutely fine as long as I took my piercings out and covered my tattoos as intended.
One other question was about the accommodation Surprisingly I-to-I were not able to provide me with any example photos of what the accommodation was going to look like and considering you are making a home there for 5 months you'd think they'd have that covered.
Anyway my friend and I painstakingly make the decisions to leave our homes, partners, friends and families to make this massive exciting step towards our new careers. I am already qualified with a 140 hour TEFL qualification and have a degree in English literature so am more than qualified enough for this position so was confident that I was going to accepted and that his was the beginning of a new life for me.
I was shocked however after paying £750 to I-to-I to have absolutely no further contact from them after all of the reassurance, not a single word to tell me what would happen next or to congratulate me on my decision. I was handed straight to the partners in Vietnam who sent me an application form to fill out - which I did to a very high standard - I was very confident in the fact that I had all of the necessary qualifications and also had lots of other great qualities necessary in a teacher. I included details of my previous work experience working with children with disabilities. I sent all of this information off very promptly because I am a competent and organised person.
It came to sending my documents off which I did once again very promptly. We were asked to send a signed contract which made the entire experience sound awful. On reading the contract I was filled with doubt because it sounded so awful and I was left awake all hours of the night worrying that it was going to be so horrible that I didn’t want to go anymore. It stated that we may be expected to work over 6 days, that we were not allowed to plan trips, that we had to pay for a $75 mandatory invasive health check (which was not made clear by I-to-I it is in the terms and conditions but this should be should stated very clearly as an added cost!!! ) Also had to send them a picture which I did of course including the facial piercings I intended to remove on commencing the internship (not 3 months beforehand) and it was a very lovely photo too. I didn’t think this photo was very consequential I thought it was just to match up to the passport- wasn’t aware it was the main method of deciding on the success of an application.
Confident that I’ve got all the qualifications, reassured that my appearance isn’t an issue, I go ahead and tell my landlord that I’m going to be leaving in January to which he replies "that’s great I’m selling up then".
So a couple of days later I get an email very bluntly explaining that I have been rejected from the internship and that they refuse to give me any reason for this so that I should get in touch with i-to-i to organise a refund or to see if there is any other experience I can take part in. Excuse me? I am more than qualified and more than competent as I have proven and I have been entirely discriminated against because of my appearance? Which I made clear from the very beginning and was willing to comply with the dress code.
Had a very lucky escape because speaking to my teacher friends around the world i-to-i are renowned for messing people around and not sending them their certificates or ripping them off in one sense or another. So I go ahead and ring i-to-i about this and there was absolutely no sympathy, no compassion and I was treated and made to feel as if this was my fault in some way. I was not offered a refund I had to ask for it, I was not offered any other experiences I had to ask about them they did not try in any way to accommodate for the situation or to try and make it less stressful.
Now I have to move out of my home for absolutely no reason, am absolutely emotionally drained by the whole experience made to feel like less of a person because of my appearance? I’m sorry but what kind of joke is this ? This is the 21st century !? I understand cultures vary and that this was a professional job but when I’ve already made it clear about my appearance and my intentions to conform, i-to-i have a duty to inform me at least why I was rejected – But of course they can’t because they know this decision is not based on any fair grounds. The girl who talked to me basically laughed and said it’s all cultural and had a "what do you want me to do about it" attitude. A little compassion goes a long way when you’re dealing with human beings. I am absolutely gutted to be treated like this but I’m so relieved that I-to-I or sly-to-sly decided to mess me around BEFORE I got over there for 5 months !
Thanks for the emotional roller coaster sly-to-sly it’s been a blast! Luckily I’m a positive person so used this experience to grow, I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the process. I’ve reinforced in myself that I am more than what I look like, that I am a competent, organised, compassionate, enthusiastic, dedicated, qualified, educated, intelligent, kind, funny and above all interesting person with so much to offer to the right people so I think your partners in Vietnam have missed out on a great opportunity to have me teach their children so I'd like to offer my apologies cause its genuinely their loss.
- communicate with people after they've paid you £750
- don't lie about appearance not mattering because it clearly does and make this very clear to anybody out there with a personality a bit more interesting than a wet flannel.
- don't treat people like it’s their fault they got rejected
- have a bit of compassion
- be a bit more polite
-dont make people who get rejected ask for a refund, you should be the ones to contact them- offerings support – advice and of course that refund!