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Bridging cultures and building sustainability

By LI XINRAN and LIU KUN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-06 10:25
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Dinh Thi Thu Ha works in her office at the waste incineration power plant of China First Metallurgical Group in Hanoi, Vietnam. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As a bilingual speaker of Chinese and Vietnamese, Dinh Thi Thu Ha realized early in life that not only language but also communication is crucial in both work and daily life.

"When I was a child, I enjoyed watching Chinese dramas such as Princess Pearl and Journey to the West. Being fascinated by the Chinese language and culture, I eventually pursued it as my major for both my undergraduate and master's degrees," said Dinh, a 32-year-old Vietnamese woman currently working at the waste incineration power plant of China First Metallurgical Group.

When she first applied for the job in 2019, she aimed for the translator position because the company was preparing for a Vietnam project, its first overseas waste-to-energy plant, in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and it was desperately in need of bilingual talent.

"At first, I wasn't sure how long I could do the job since the working environment was harsh. We were surrounded by garbage, the smell was terrible and dark-colored water would flow everywhere after the rain," Dinh recalled.

But the demanding environment was not her only obstacle as Dinh soon found out that being bilingual wasn't enough for her to be a qualified translator. She had to be an expert in the field of garbage disposal too.

"The biggest challenge I faced was the translation of technical terms, many of which I couldn't understand at the time," Dinh said. "Whenever I ran into words or expressions that I wasn't familiar with and couldn't look up myself, I would ask my Chinese colleagues to explain them to me. They were always eager and happy to help."

According to Dinh, the new plant was established in Soc Son county, Hanoi. Covering an area of 173,936 square meters, it processes 4,000 tons of urban household waste per day, accounting for more than 60 percent of Hanoi's daily production of household waste.

The project officially began construction in August 2019, and by July 2022, three sets of generator units were connected to the grid for power generation.

Hu Changbing, the manager of the group's Vietnam branch, has worked with Dinh for over four years.

"I discovered that Dinh has this special ability: no matter how difficult a task, she could finish it effectively and meticulously, whether it's inviting a guest speaker or going through a certain procedure," Hu said.

Modestly, Dinh responded: "There's no secret or anything special. My work ethic is to complete whatever my boss entrusts me with and provide a satisfactory outcome."

Unmentioned by her was the fact that, to complete certain tasks, she would make dozens of phone calls and sometimes even make multiple trips to talk to someone in person. Her efforts and contributions were seen and appreciated by her superior.

"Mr Hu is impartial at work but considerate to us in daily life," said Dinh. "I remember it was my daughter's third birthday, and I had to work overtime due to an important project. Mr Hu arranged a car for me to go home as soon as I clocked out."

In the company's Vietnam branch, the number of Chinese staff slightly exceeds that of Vietnamese, but Dinh said she never felt any cultural differences. "We're not divided by our nationalities, and we're members of the same family — China First Metallurgical Group."

Currently, Dinh works as a junior manager, and her job description includes translation, foreign affairs liaison, and marketing.

According to Dinh, the waste incineration power plant in Hanoi has significantly promoted the sustainable development of green environmental protection in the capital of Vietnam, achieving the long-term goal of effectively improving urban household waste disposal in the city.

As a local resident of Hanoi, Dinh is very proud to have contributed to this project. "I hope to improve my information research and negotiation skills in the future and to further explore and develop the Vietnamese market with my colleagues."

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