Seventeen-year-old model Andrea Aybar is often seen in Vietnamese magazines and fashion shows in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. She took a Vietnamese name: Nguyen Thi An. Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese surname, Thi indicates a person is a female, and An is short for her first name.
An – the Vietnamese name of Andrea Aybar Carmona – means peace in life. Inheriting the beauty of her mother, a Venezuelan woman, and the height of her father, An did not fancy that she would become a model one day.
An’s childhood did not have the presence of her mother. When An was 4, her parent divorced. Her father, a businessman, decided to invest in Vietnam. The Spanish girl first came to Vietnam with her father and brother eight years ago. Before coming here, she had no idea about the country and asked “Where is it? What does it look like?”
Her first modeling assignment came three years ago, when Spanish designer Diego, a friend of her father, invited her to shoot for his new Chula collection. During the photo shoot, Andrea met Ha Vy, a model and director of Venus Model Agency.
Seeing Andrea’s posing abilities and natural beauty, Vy asked her to become an exclusive model for her agency. After getting her father’s approval, Andrea stepped into the modeling world at the age of 14.
Andrea Aybar Carmona is 1.74m tall, 50kg, 84-59-90. She has worked as a model for over one year. She has performed for famous brands like Adidas, Levi’s, Bally, Mango, BCBG… An is also the host of three TV shows on Real TV channel. She is a loyal fan of Barcelona FC.
However, she also goes to school, not an international one but a Vietnamese school. Andrea joined third grade in Hanoi when she was 10 and amazed classmates and teachers with her fluent Vietnamese.
“It was the first time I had a foreign student,” Nguyen Tuong Van, Andrea’s eighth grade teacher, said.
“Only her appearance is different from other students. She follows school rules and works hard just like a Vietnamese. Andrea also has great knowledge of arts, which amazes me.
Andrea loves Vietnamese literature and history and is fond of To Huu’s poems and old fairy tales. She also loves Vietnamese food and often wanders around streets in Hanoi.
Recently she got a Vietnamese stepmother who teaches her how to cook traditional dishes like sour fish soup and braised fish in clay pot.
“My love to my second home country is very deep. I see myself as a Vietnamese girl. Whenever I went abroad, I wished to return to Hanoi quickly. I think I cannot live any place in the world, except for this country,” she said.
The 17-year-old is also a bridge between her two cultures, helping bring Vietnamese customs and the language into her family.
“My father has lived for very long in Vietnam but cannot speak Vietnamese. I often do translations for his business.”
Last summer the young model was also excited at the prospect of becoming a real Vietnamese: “I’ll be a naturalized Vietnamese in a month. After that, I’ll make an ID and show everyone that I am a real Vietnamese, not a foreigner as people often call me.”
An with the Vietnamese citizenship hopes to participate in local beauty contests. She dreams to represent Vietnam at international beauty pageants.