What are TAV Teachers Up to on Their Spare time? In the Spotlight: Zoonie Nguyen

Updated: Jan 5


This issue’s “teacher’s spotlight” will focus on TAV digital media instructor Zoonie Nguyen. Zoonie is known to be a ball of energy, not only in the classroom, but in her side career as well. When Zoonie is not in the classroom teaching Digital Marketing or about Current Trends in World Media, she can be found on the stage giving sales seminars to young, female entrepreneurs, or filming documentaries!


Zoonie started her teaching career at TAV College three years ago when she was recommended to the administration by a colleague. Before TAV, she taught professional sales and marketing, mainly to adults, at the English Montreal School Board, as well as at Commission Scolaire Marguerite Bourgeois. She chose to teach at TAV, for one because of its innovative Digital Marketing program, which is unique to the college as TAV is the only institution that offers a full-time, in-class program. For another, Zoonie appreciated the fact that the TAV College student body is so multicultural and diverse, which made her feel right at home as she is an immigrant herself.

Aside from the courses that Zoonie teaches at the college, she is also a busy entrepreneur herself. “Talentelle,” started in 2006, is the company Zoonie owns that aims to coach young female entrepreneurs on how to better present themselves from a sales and marketing perspective, as well as offers guidance on how to get their businesses up-and-running. She does this through interactive workshops that focus on public speaking tips, how to make authentic sales and video presentation coaching.

A project that Zoonie is currently working on completing is a documentary film that is very important to her. “How She Dares,” will be a 2019 documentary film shining the light on the lives of seven courageous, Vietnamese, female entrepreneurs. This has been a project on Zoonie’s mind for years because it incorporates many aspects of what are important to her: Women, entrepreneurship and the economic progress of Vietnam. What she hopes the audience will take from the film is to stop dreaming of what you want to accomplish and start working towards your goals. According to Nguyen, the title of her documentary “How She Dares” stems from the courage that these seven young female entrepreneurs have demonstrated by going out there and building their enterprises from nothing. Also, it’s about her own courage for going back to a place that was emotionally difficult for her to relive.


Zoonie’s life story is one that is met with hardship, heroism and luck. Before she and her family arrived as immigrants in Montreal, where she went on to graduate from McGill University with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, Zoonie had to endure a terrifying journey across the seas. Although Zoonie herself, being a trained public speaker, will always tell her story better, I will attempt to do it justice. When Zoonie was eight years old, she was awakened one morning and was forced to evacuate her home because of the Vietnam war. Zoonie was lucky enough that her parents were able to get on one of the last boats that was leaving the area. A young Zoonie had but minutes to grab as much of her possessions as she could and say goodbye to her childhood home before she was forced to flee. Once Zoonie and her family got onto the boat and set sail, no one had any idea where to go; There was no plan set in place but to survive. The days that went by on that boat were difficult for her to recall. She witnessed suicide, starvation, heat stroke and hallucination. Dirty, running out of water and food, the “boat people,” as Zoonie recalls being labeled, were saved by a massive Danish cargo vessel, days after they fled from their homes and lives. The vessel brought them to the closest land where they were granted refugee status from the then British colony of Hong Kong. Alas, they were safe from harm, however, emotionally, they were a mess.


With that being said, returning to her roots was no easy journey. However, this was not her first time but, it was the first time for her teenage daughter, Maggie. Nguyen recalled during our interview together that one of the biggest difficulties was actually language during their trip to shoot the film. Her daughter, Maggie, speaks French and English, Zoonie herself speaks English, French and Vietnamese, however, her camerawoman, Camille, only spoke French and a bit of English. Zoonie had to act as the translator between the Vietnamese people and Camille and Maggie. Nonetheless, this documentary is something that Zoonie has wanted to do her entire life and she finally not only got accomplish this dream project, but she was fortunate enough to be able to have her daughter experience it with her.


Stay tuned for updates on Zoonie’s documentary by following the doc’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Howshedares/

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