PLANTING HOPE AND MAGICAL OUTCOMES WILL HARVEST.
I was born in a remote countryside and grew up in perpetual hardship. The images of the tattered thatched roof and the people’s suffering lives in poverty have become part of my childhood memory. Back then, everyday, we used studying as a means to escape poverty. I studied to become a middle-school teacher and came to Da Nang to work – This is a fairly young, energetic and vibrant city for me to to excel, so I thought…
During the first few years in my teaching career, I recognized the difference of the living conditions of the children in this city with those in our lives before. The difference is so great, as one side is the poor country side with the substandard living conditions from more than ten years ago; the other side is the exciting bustling liveliness of a busy, growing city. Having the spirit of a young teacher, I put all of my passion into my job with the belief that “My students are the young children who have all of the conditions to study. Thus, they will be able to come to school with a clear mind to receive new knowledge. They will not worry about a thing. Nothing will be in their way to stop them from soaking up the magic of education…” Each time having experienced the real life of my students, especially after I personally visited some of the ones from our school, that belief has gradually changed as I lived a little longer in the city.
We sometimes visited the students in the evening, after classes were over. Perhaps the changing light between day and nightfall has made the places where our students live seem more empty and cold. One unforgettable evening in February, when it was raining cats and dogs, a few other teachers and I were on the way to visit one of my students. Holding the address, we confusedly walked back and forth in the small and muddy alley, asking and searching for my student’s home. Her house was less than 2 km from our school, but it took us almost one hour to find it. Her father passed away long time ago. Her mother has had to go far away to earn a living for her family since my student was only 2 years-old. During the last thirteen years, she was able to see her mother only a few times. My student has been staying with her maternal grandmother, who is almost 80 years-old, an uncle, his wife, other aunt and their children. Nine people live in a little house with a dirt floor and a rusty tin roof full of holes that could not prevent the rainwater from dripping through. At the brightest corner of the house, there is an old wooden table with a 45-watt lamp – perhaps the studying corner for the children. On the wall around that corner, there are many certificates of achievement of the children. It was not difficult for me to recognize the certificates with my student’s name, because she has continuously thrived as an excellent student during the last nine years. Everyone in the family greeted us with the simple, but no less sincere, blend with a little concern. Her grandmother kept crying from the moment we arrived, the type of cries without sound, only tears coming down from her old blurry eyes. My student kept sitting behind me, even though I tried to hold her hand and pulled her to my side so that she would have more confidence in sitting with us. I recognized that her hand trembled, her back pulled back as she wanted to shrink. Perhaps she was not used to receiving visitors like us at her home.
That moment filled me with emotions. Many similar visits had changed my original perception, as I realized that not all children of the big city can happily go to school. Their routes to schools still have many barriers because of the lack of the necessities in material, emotional and spiritual support. Even then, I still maintain my original belief that “It doesn’t matter how difficult it is, nothing will stop the children from understanding.” Therefore, though they don’t have a clear vision of the efforts and related rewards of education, all of my students always promised me that they will study so that their future will have less suffering,… so that one day they can help cure the illness of their mother… or to help their father raise their siblings, etc…All of those dreams and realizations help push the children to want to live and give them the energy to excel. Their living conditions may be different levels from one another, but their eyes always look forward to the future, and their feet will march forward with strong conviction.
At the beginning of this school year, our school received happy news that those students who have overcome difficulties and achieved strong academic performances that would be given a chance to receive 11 scholarship/grants from the ATG family, comprised of 11 new bicycles. The ATG group also supported us during the school year of 2012-2013 with 20 scholarship/grants, also new bicycles. This year, the ATG family again provided us with these meaningful grants to help the children come to school each day so that their family no longer had to worry about finding the means for them to commute to school. The bicycles, just like wings, will provide a tremendous support for the children to make their routes to school become shorter and further their abilities to advance in their life ahead. The greatest outcome of this generous action is that it has helped these children to understand that people care about them and are willing to share. With your support, the children will have a stronger belief in their studying and their daily life.
My dear students — just keep walking forward toward your future ahead. We need to accept the differences that came to us in the past. However, the opportunities of the future can be shared with those who value their life and work hard to achieve them.
Pham T. Thuy Loan (Teacher of Nguyen Hue Middle School)