Friday, December 9 2016

VietNamNews

Overcoming obstacles

Update: July, 23/2016 - 09:00
Powerful Cactus Flower: Vương Thị Dung and her students in class. Photos tienphong.vn
Viet Nam News

A beautiful girl had a sad thing happen to her.

She fell ill and was no longer able to move her body properly.

She became paralysed.

However, she was strong enough not to let this ruin her life.

She has become an amazing teacher and a person who does everything with a smile.

by Hòai Văn

From a beautiful and lively 11th grade teenage girl,Vương Thị Dung, now 25, from Bình Tịnh hamlet, Bình Minh Commune, Thăng Bình District, Quảng Nam Province, became paralysed overnight, had to leave school and suffered excruciating pain in the hospital. Her poems came into being in that hospital: “The flower that is invulnerable/Dare to get over the sorrow/The highest waves of hardship/I’m grateful for life…”

The lines of her poems touch the hearts of many people, just like her unyielding optimism, love for others and her faith in life. Such a sweet, gregarious woman in the eyes of her family and friends, Dung is now also a special teacher for children in the coastal village.

Special classes

Amidst the sizzling summer heat in central Việt Nam, amidst the meditative sound of waves breaking on the shore, one can still hear the voices of local kids reviewing and learning their lessons by heart. Sitting on the floor behind the rows of desks neatly arranged on the front porch, they focus on the lesson and listen to their teacher, who sits in a wheelchair while talking and writing on a whiteboard.  

“I think life always delivers challenges for all of us. Overcoming them helps us realise and treasure life’s value. Many poor souls out there are even more miserable than I am. The blind cannot see moving objects. The deaf cannot hear and interact with life, etc. So I want to live fully and echo the love I receive from the beloved people around me,” Dung said.

Started in 2009 with only a few of Dung’s neighbours as students, the small learning centre of this special teacher has gradually expanded since then. Now 70 students are divided into different classes. Thanks to the reputation of this dedicated teacher, more parents are signing their kids up for classes.

“In the middle of eleventh grade, my body was paralyzed and I had to stop attending school. But I still had a good grasp of basic knowledge. Later, I researched different subjects and taught myself. Now I’m comfortable and confident teaching kids from primary level to ninth grade,” Dung said.

Children from poor families study for free. Students from families with more money have to pay tuition fees. Dung is a strict teacher who administers reward or punishment whenever needed.

“If someone makes small talk in class, or does not focus on the lesson, the punishment is standing in front of class. In contrast, anyone with good results by the end of the term receives new notebooks,” former student Nguyễn Phước Vương said.

Always independent

Trần Thị Đào, Dung’s mother, said Dung was an active and independent girl when she was small. To support her parents, she spent her summer vacation washing dishes and working for food stalls and cafes in Đà Nẵng. She saved all she earned to support her parents and earned good grades at school.

One morning Dung’s parents found their child with a high fever, her body and limbs paralyzed. Dung was taken to different hospitals in Quảng Nam and Huế, but the doctors couldn’t identify her medical condition. She was finally diagnosed with the myelitis cervicalis. Since then, Dung has grown accustomed to her wheelchair. She practised basic physical therapy exercises like holding, grabbing and moving.

Despite the illness and physical limitations, Dung used her sense of humour to lighten the sombre atmosphere in the hospital; doctors and patients grew fond of her. Dung started to practise writing again; swollen fingers from grabbing the pen did not deter her.

With her knowledge and insatiable quest for learning, Dung was trusted and asked by villagers to help write letters, scholarship applications, public documents, etc.  Dung is also a member of Bình Minh Commune’s volunteer group, which asks donors to support poor families.

Mother as idol

While Dung’s father went fishing most of the time, Dung and her siblings grew up in the care of their mother, who raised six beautiful kids with her baskets full of fish and seafood. When Dung got sick, her mother quit her job to support her daughter, took Dung to hospitals, supported her daily activities, and more.

Dung was touched and inspired by her mother’s unconditional love and sacrifice. In a writing competition sponsored by Phụ Nữ (Woman) Magazine, Dung wrote:

 “Our journey has been 9 years, your legs are now my legs. You hold me in your arms, take care of me -- from each meal and bathing to each physical therapy session. I’m often asked: ’What motivates you to overcome all the hardship?’ The answer is always easy: ’it’s because of you. I’m grateful for having you as my mother. I always try to live my life to its fullest to deserve your unconditional love for me. In this love, I never feel lonely nor unstable.’

"I realize that God chose a different life for me. The poor little students at our fishing village, who compare me to the Powerful Cactus Flower, all crave knowledge. I accept the reality and live happily in the present. Despite my physical condition, I will live a happy and meaningful life, just like everyone else.”  — VNS


 

GLOSSARY

From a beautiful and lively 11th grade teenage girl,Vương Thị Dung, now 25, from Bình Tịnh hamlet, Bình Minh Commune, Thăng Bình District, Quảng Nam Province, became paralysed overnight, had to leave school and suffered excruciating pain in the hospital.

A hamlet is a collection of houses that is too small to be called a village.

To be paralysed means to not be able to move many parts of your body, especially your arms and your legs.

Excruciating pain is pain that is so bad that it is like torture.

Her poems came into being in that hospital: “The flower that is invulnerable/Dare to get over the sorrow/The highest waves of hardship/I’m grateful for life…”

If something is vulnerable, harm can easily come to it. Invulnerable is the opposite. In other words, no harm can come to a flower that is invulnerable.

To dare to do something means to have the courage, or cheek, to do it.

To be grateful means to be thankful.

The lines of her poems touch the hearts of many people, just like her unyielding optimism, love for others and her faith in life.

Dung’s poems touched hearts when they made people feel for her.

Optimism means always seeing the good and the positive in things. To have unyielding optimism means to never stop thinking in this way.

To have faith means to have a strong feeling of trust.

Such a sweet, gregarious woman in the eyes of her family and friends, Dung is now also a special teacher for children in the coastal village.

To be gregarious means to enjoy being with other people.

Amidst the sizzling summer heat in central Việt Nam, amidst the meditative sound of waves breaking on the shore, one can still hear the voices of local kids reviewing and learning their lessons by heart.

 Amidst means “in the middle of”.

If the summer heat is sizzling, it can seem as if it is hot enough to fry things.

Meditative means “to do with meditation”. Meditation is deep thinking.

To learn something by heart means to remember it so well, you can simply say it out loud, without reading it.

Sitting on the floor behind the rows of desks neatly arranged on the front porch, they focus on the lesson and listen to their teacher, who sits in a wheelchair while talking and writing on a whiteboard.  

A porch is a covered entrance to a building.

To focus means to concentrate.

“I think life always delivers challenges for all of us.”

If life delivers challenges, it produces difficult things you will have to deal with.

Overcoming them helps us realise and treasure life’s value.”

To overcome a challenge means to win over one of these difficulties.

To treasure something means to believe it is very valuable.

“Many poor souls out there are even more miserable than I am.”

A poor soul is an unfortunate person.

“The blind cannot see moving objects. “

Moving objects are things that move.

“The deaf cannot hear and interact with life, etc.”

To interact with life means to have communication with things that happen in your life.

“So I want to live fully and echo the love I receive from the beloved people around me,” Dung said.

To echo the love you receive means to offer it out again to others.

Started in 2009 with only a few of Dung’s neighbours as students, the small learning centre of this special teacher has gradually expanded since then.

Expanded means grown.

Thanks to the reputation of this dedicated teacher, more parents are signing their kids up for classes.

The teacher’s reputation is how people see her and feel about the way she is doing her work.

A dedicated teacher is one who happily spends lots of time and effort teaching.

“But I still had a good grasp of basic knowledge.”

To have a good grasp of basic knowledge means to understand local knowledge well.

“Later, I researched different subjects and taught myself.”

To research means to study and in doing so, find out new things.

“Now I’m comfortable and confident teaching kids from primary level to ninth grade,” Dung said.

To be confident means to believe in yourself.

Students from families with more money have to pay tuition fees.

The fees you have to pay to be taught a course are tuition fees.

Dung is a strict teacher who administers reward or punishment whenever needed.

A strict teacher is one who is quick to deal with any form of disobedience.

To administer reward or punishment means to give out rewards or punishments.

In contrast, anyone with good results by the end of the term receives new notebooks,” former student Nguyễn Phước Vương said.

In contrast means “on the other hand”.

Trần Thị Đào, Dung’s mother, said Dung was an active and independent girl when she was small.

Somebody who is independent does not need other people to help them get their own things done.

To support her parents, she spent her summer vacation washing dishes and working for food stalls and cafes in Đà Nẵng.

A vacation means a holiday.

One morning Dung’s parents found their child with a high fever, her body and limbs paralyzed.

To have a high fever means to be very ill with a sickness.

Your limbs are your arms and legs.

Dung was taken to different hospitals in Quảng Nam and Huế, but the doctors couldn’t identify her medical condition.

To identify her medical condition means to work out exactly what it is.

She was finally diagnosed with the myelitis cervicalis.

When a doctor diagnosed her with myelitis cervicalis means, he or she discovered that was what she was suffering from.

Since then, Dung has grown accustomed to her wheelchair.

By growing accustomed to her wheelchair, Dung has become used to it. It has become a normal part of her life.

Despite the illness and physical limitations, Dung used her sense of humour to lighten the sombre atmosphere in the hospital; doctors and patients grew fond of her.

Your sense of humour is your way of being funny and making jokes.

A sombre atmosphere means a serious mood.

Dung started to practise writing again; swollen fingers from grabbing the pen did not deter her.

If something deters you, it puts you off doing it.

With her knowledge and insatiable quest for learning, Dung was trusted and asked by villagers to help write letters, scholarship applications, public documents, etc.

If Dung has an insatiable quest for learning, she will want to keep learning more and more and there will never be an end to her wanting to learn.

Scholarship applications are requests people make to have free or cut-price education.

Public documents are forms people fill in for state services.

Dung is also a member of Bình Minh Commune’s volunteer group, which asks donors to support poor families.

A volunteer group is a group of people who do work for which they do not expect to be paid.

While Dung’s father went fishing most of the time, Dung and her siblings grew up in the care of their mother, who raised six beautiful kids with her baskets full of fish and seafood.

Your siblings are your brothers and sisters.

Dung was touched and inspired by her mother’s unconditional love and sacrifice.

If something, or somebody, inspires you it makes you want to go out and do something positive.

If Dung’s mother has unconditional love for her, she loves her no matter what.

Sacrifice means giving up nice things for a cause.

I’m often asked: ’What motivates you to overcome all the hardship?’

What motivates you is what makes you want to do things.

The poor little students at our fishing village, who compare me to the Powerful Cactus Flower, all crave knowledge.

To crave knowledge means to want it badly.

I accept the reality and live happily in the present.

To live in the present means to be more interested and involved in what is happening now than in what happened in the past or what may happen in the future.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Vương Thị Dung’s father often went fishing.
  2. Vương Thị Dung uses a wheelchair.
  3. Vương Thị Dung believes blind people are less fortunate than she is.
  4. The very first doctors Vương Thị Dung went to in Quảng Nam and Huế identified her condition.
  5. The special school where Vương Thị Dung teaches is far away from the coast.

ANSWERS:

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

 

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

 

 

 

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