The Falls Church Medical Center was incorrectly indentified as the employer of Chu is employed by Clin Lab Medical Services, which is located in the Falls Church Medical Center building.
A medical doctor who used to perform surgery in a Vietnamese Navy hospital has worked at the Falls Church Medical for $3 an hour.
An attorney with 15 years of experience who speaks French flawlessly has been employed as a cashier at the gazebo in the Washington Hilton Hotel.
The doctor and the attorney are not eccentries, doing the jobs for charity or for fun.
They are Vietnamese refugees, who came to the United States after the collapse of South Vietnam more than two years ago.
Like many other refugees, the doctor and the attorney have had difficulties finding work suitable to their abilities. Although they were highly trained professionals atr home, they are struggling to survive in a country still almost completely unfamiliar to them. Chu Ba Hoe, the bespectacled doctor, has wrestled with English, the barrier to his aspirations to practice medicine examination a year ago, but says he took the English test "five times in the past 13 months before finally passing it. He forced a smile during an interview in his sparsely furnished apartment in Arlington.
"English is tougher than I thought," he said. "The listening comprehension is really a challenge to me."
A father of two small boys, Hoe, 36, works as a laboratory technician at the Falls Church Medical Center, from 2 to 10 p.m. and attends English courses at the Northern Virginia Community College in the morning.
He has studied hard at school and at home, listening to the tape laboriously, but his bright star did not rise up early, his attractive wife said. According to her, "he jumped up in elation" the day following Independence Day when he learned he had passed the English test.
Of 482 Indochinese physicians, nearly three-fifts have failed the English test, while only one-fifth have not passed the medical examination, according to the June, 1977, report from HEW's Task Force for Indochina Refugees.
Medical and English examinations are required for certificates from the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, which foreign physician must have to start on the "long road" as Hoc put it, to get a license to practice medicine in the United States. Without the certificate, physicians cannot be admitted as interns in a medical school or hospital. It takes - depending on speciality or state regulations - to pass the final certification examinations for medical practice.
Hoc's former colleague, Phan Quang Cuong, passed both the medical and English examinations six months ago, yet he is no luckier. He has sent "more than 100" applications with resumes to medical colleagues and hospitals. All answered that "all vacancies were filled up," said Cuong, 28, in a telephone interview. He said he believes it is "too late" for him to be admitted for the academic year, 1977-78. But he hopes to find a place for the next year. According to Cuong, about half of his friends who got the certificate last year were admitted to colleges or hospitals.
To support his wife and 3-year-old son, Cuong has worked temporarily at the Arlington hospital as an attendant.
Despite difficulties, Vietnamese medical graduates have a better chance of going back to their original careers than any other refuges. For other professionals, the qualifications they earned in Vietnam are unsuitable, or useless in some cases, in a highly advanced and industrialized nation.
Vietnamese lawyers are among those who have the most problems. Some are employed in law firms, doing research or clerical work. Others change careers. A former judge has become an automobile mechanic, at Seven Corners in Falls Church.
Nguyen Cong Hoang, 42, who has 15 years of experience in his profession, does not dream of being an attorney in the United States. Vietnamese and U.S. laws and judiciary systems are very different from each other, said the mustached attorney-turned-cashier at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Furthermore, to practice law here, "we must have an excellent command of English, which cannot be achieved in some years, but in decades.
Other refugees find that their training and experience in Vietnam are not useful here. Tran Huu Triet, 37, a former civil servant, said that he had teased his former professor in public administration that "your teachings and lectures are gone with the wind now. I would have been better, had I studied English instead." Triet worked at a tire plant in Lebanon, Pa., for several months before moving to Arlington four months ago, after being trained in clerical worked at the Arlington Career Center.
Career centers and voluntary agencies, as well as America friends, are important factors in helping the refugees find employment. The exiles contend that the chances of being hired are limited for those for not have American references.
A graduate of Harvard University and former assistant cabinet minister in Vietnam, Vu Khac Dung, remarked over a dinner with his friends in Falls Church that high-level experience with the Vietnamese government is "not considered" by Americans who are unable to check it, but a reference from a U.S. citizen, firm or arganization is "much more helpful and valuable."
Nguyen Khoa, a medical graduate, credited his "American long-time acquaintance" his helping him find employment first at a hospital in New Jersey some months after his arrival in the United States, and later to gain admission to George Washington Medical School.
"It's difficult for you refugees to get job by yourselves, because they (employers) do not know you and your Vietnamese references," explained John Bonham, a food instructor at the Arlington Career Center, to three young Vietnamese women who got employment fairly quickly thanks to recommendations from instructor.
Food facilities and outlets are the most common places for the refugees to get jobs, because the mental work requires only little training and a good command of English is not necessary. Some former teachers, pharmacists and journalists have become cooks, busboys and dish washers. Others work as janitors and machine operators at firms or factories.
They accept these jobs as a means to survive while they attend English courses and professional training in the hope that they will be able to upgrade their careers in the future.
The HEW report said that 66.7 per cent of the employed Vietnamese refugees accept occupations below the levels of their work in Vietnam: 15.8 per cent maintain jobs at the same level, and 11.7 per cent found better work.
The refugees' salaries naturally are low as a result of their jobs. To adapt to the new circumstances, many Vietnamese women, who restricted themselves to their traditional role as housewives in Vietnam, venture out to work to supplement their husbands' low incomes. The Task Force report, released last March, said 54 per cent of the Vietnamese refugee households have a combined income, from all sources, of below $800 a month.
Their new positions do not make the refugees happy. "The first day working at the Hyatt House restaurant, I prayed not to be seen by any Vietnamese there," said a former director press censors.