Tuesday, December 6 2016

VietNamNews

Teacher goes the extra mile

Update: May, 15/2016 - 09:00
She often starts her day at 5:30am by preparing for the class and visiting the children’s houses to have them ready for school.
Viet Nam News

A woman who works in a school in the central province of Hà Tĩnh cares a lot for the people she works with.

They are an ethnic community who speak a different language to her but she has learnt to speak the Chứt language.

Many of these people needed help to get their children an education.

Hoàng Thị Hương has given them all the help she can.

by Phượng Vũ

The normal working day starts at 8am, but for teacher Hoàng Thị Hương in Rào Tre Village in the central province of Hà Tĩnh, the day begins three hours earlier. Not only does she reach school early to prepare her lessons, but she also visits the children’s homes to get them ready for school.

Born into a poor family in Hương Liên Commune in Hà Tĩnh, the teacher thoroughly empathises with the disadvantages of children in remote areas.

During her school days, Hương nurtured a dream of helping the youth in her hometown, which was later realised when she was assigned to work at the kindergarten in Rào Tre at the age of 20.

The village is home to 37 families comprising 134 people, all of the Chứt ethnic minority. Due to the village’s remote location and marriages among cousins, locals here suffer from a lack of awareness and poor living conditions, leaving them with a poor education, especially for children.

“There were no children on the first day I arrived at the kindergarten,” Hương recalled. “Later on, I learnt the teachers here have to go to the children’s houses and take them to school. But it is not easy. The parents might stop us because we are strangers. If they do allow us, the children themselves may not want to go.”

Hương decided to ask village patriarch Hồ Púc to help her take the children to school and bring them home after the lesson.

But it took nearly two years for parents to familiarise themselves with the teacher and for Hương to be able to take the children to school.

Now, in the morning, she enters the children’s bedrooms to wake them up and get them ready for school.

“Many people feel sorry for me when they learn I attend to the ethnic children’s personal hygiene, because the Chứt people have limited awareness on this issue. The first days were the toughest, because many children had not bathed for a long time; some of them even suffered from scabies. But, instead of being afraid, I only felt great pity for them. I have to be close to them, so if I do not take care of their personal hygiene, who will?” Hương said.

A newly built bridge has connected the remote village to the outside world, but earlier, before the bridge was built, access to the village was a huge challenge for the teachers.

For nearly 10 years, as a young teacher, Hương would swim across the swift-flowing Ngàn Sâu River to the village, using only one hand; in the other, she held her clothes.

“Summer was less severe. The most difficult time of the year for me was winter when the water level was high. One day, I slipped and fell into the gushing water but fortunately saved myself by holding onto a bush by the river,” Hương said.

Ever since her first day at the Rào Tre kindergarten, she has been using part of her meagre salary to purchase more educational tools and textbooks for the children.

Some children had still not gotten used to school, so she also bought candy to "attract" them, and rice to supplement their meals, she said.

“Children aged 3-5 years receive monthly support of VNĐ120,000 (US$6) each from the state budget, but some two-year-olds do not get any support because they are not covered under the compulsory education system. However, in order to familiarise them with school, we teachers pick them up early. That is why we have to spend our own money to support them but only partially,” she said.

Hương travels back and forth between the school and the children’s homes four times a day. At noon, she voluntarily cooks meals for them and then takes them home. In the early afternoon, after a quick lunch and tidying up her home, she returns to the children’s houses and takes them back to school.

In order to communicate with the local people more easily, Hương uses her spare time to learn the Chứt language and can now converse with the Chứt people fluently.

Despite all these difficulties, she has never complained, nor mentioned any intention of working in any other place.

“The managers of the kindergarten have suggested several times that she could change her job location, but she is determined to stay because of her attachment to the local lifestyle. In addition, new teachers have come, but no one else has been as successful in getting the students to school,” Nguyễn Thị Hoa, headmistresses of the kindergarten, said.

When asked about her current aspiration, Hương said she had no wishes for herself.

“The children have been studying at the village clubhouse, instead of a proper classroom, for such a long time. I hope there will be more investment in building new classes for better local education. Besides this, it is a bit inconvenient for me to work both as a teacher and as a cook for the children, so I also hope there will be more teachers arriving to support me.”

Hương’s immense dedication to local education was honoured last year with a certificate of merit from the Minister of Education and Training, to further encourage her efforts to help educate disadvantaged children. — VNS

 

 

 

GLOSSARY

Born into a poor family in Hương Liên Commune in Hà Tĩnh, the teacher thoroughly empathises with the disadvantages of children in remote areas.

To empathise with someone means to feel and understand someone else’s feelings.

When people have disadvantages, they have big problems in their way.

Remote areas are places that are far away from cities.

During her school days, Hương nurtured a dream of helping the youth in her hometown, which was later realised when she was assigned to work at the kindergarten in Rào Tre at the age of 20.

To nurture a dream means to grow that dream, with care.

Hương decided to ask village patriarch Hồ Púc to help her take the children to school and bring them home after the lesson.

A patriarch is a man who is in charge of a family or a tribe.

But it took nearly two years for parents to familiarise themselves with the teacher and for Hương to be able to take the children to school.

To familiarise yourself with someone means to get to know them.

 “Many people feel sorry for me when they learn I attend to the ethnic children’s personal hygiene, because the Chứt people have limited awareness on this issue.

Children’s personal hygiene means their keeping themselves clean.

The first days were the toughest, because many children had not bathed for a long time; some of them even suffered from scabies.

Scabies is a skin disease.

A newly built bridge has connected the remote village to the outside world, but earlier, before the bridge was built, access to the village was a huge challenge for the teachers.

To have access to a village means to be able to get there.

“Summer was less severe.”

Severe means very bad.

Ever since her first day at the Rào Tre kindergarten, she has been using part of her meagre salary to purchase more educational tools and textbooks for the children.

A meagre salary means a small salary.

Some children had still not gotten used to school, so she also bought candy to "attract" them, and rice to supplement their meals, she said.

To supplement their meals means to have some extra food as well as what they eat during their meals.

“Children aged 3-5 years receive monthly support of VNĐ120,000 (US$6) each from the state budget, but some two-year-olds do not get any support because they are not covered under the compulsory education system.

A State budget is money that the government has planned to spend on something.

A compulsory education system means a system in which all children must study for a certain period according to law.

In order to communicate with the local people more easily, Hương uses her spare time to learn the Chứt language and can now converse with the Chứt people fluently.

To communicate means to get information from one person to another.

To converse in a language means to have a chat in that language.

To speak a language fluently means to speak it easily and to understand it well.

Despite all these difficulties, she has never complained, nor mentioned any intention of working in any other place.

An intention is a plan that you want to carry out.

When asked about her current aspiration, Hương said she had no wishes for herself.

Someone’s current aspiration is what they aim for at this moment. Now.

“I hope there will be more investment in building new classes for better local education.

An investment means a spending in order to get more rewards later on.

Besides this, it is a bit inconvenient for me to work both as a teacher and as a cook for the children, so I also hope there will be more teachers arriving to support me.”

If something is an inconvenience it is a nuisance and not very easy to do.

Hương’s immense dedication to local education was honoured last year with a certificate of merit from the Minister of Education and Training, to further encourage her efforts to help educate disadvantaged children.

To have immense dedication means to be very loyal to doing something.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Hoàng Thị Hương is paid money to cook meals for the school.
  2. This year the  Minister of Education and Training handed a merit award to Hoàng Thị Hương.
  3. Chứt is the name of both the people Hoàng Thị Hương  works among as well as their language.
  4. Children aged 3-5 years receive monthly support of US$120,000 each from the state budget.
  5. The Ngàn Sâu River flows more strongly in winter.

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. False; 2. False; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True.

 

 

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