Tuesday, December 6 2016

VietNamNews

For the love of the caves

Update: August, 07/2016 - 09:00
Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương poses at Đôi Cape, the easternmost point of the country. Photos courtesy of Thiên Hương
Viet Nam News

A teacher from Ho Chi Minh City called Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương was not shy when she met Barack Obama, the President of the United States on his visit to Viet Nam.

She gave him a funny hat with a message written on it.

The message was “Save Sơn Đoòng”.

Hương loves the famous caves at Sơn Đoòng and does not want them to be spoilt.

by Minh Thu

When US President Barack Obama met with young Vietnamese at the National Convention Centre in Hà Nội in May during his visit to Việt Nam, a woman presented him with a conical hat and a T-shirt imprinted with the slogan “Save Sơn Đoòng”.

That woman was Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương, 24, an alumnus of California State University Fullerton. She founded the Save Sơn Đoòng organisation that works to get people involved in protecting the pristine beauty of the largest known cave in the world, and its surrounding natural environment.

Currently, she works as a teacher and PR officer in HCM City.

In 2014, she read that a cable car would be built inside the cave to serve 8,000 travellers a day. She thought it would have a negative impact on the local ecosystem.

Sơn Đoòng Cave in the central province of Quảng Bình is more than 200m wide, 150m high and approximately 9km long. It is believed to have been formed 2-5 million years ago.

Then, Dr Howard Limbert, a cave expert, explorer and member of the British Royal Caving Research Association, took an expedition through Sơn Đoòng. When Hương heard about the discovery of the cave, she visited the cave and was totally charmed by its beauty.

“The mysterious underground world opened in front of my eyes,” said Hương. “It’s a world that exists separately from our world. It awakened a love for discovering in my mind.”

Hương said she had always liked reading Doraemon, a comic book about adventurous explorations into the entrails of the Earth. When she grew up, she liked Journey to the Centre of the Earth. 

“I always dreamed of travelling and discovering new lands,” said Hương.

“Experiences from trips enrich my life and soul. I often tell my students about life around the world, what I witnessed and learnt on the way.”

The students, their parents and members of the Save Sơn Đoòng organisation call Hương “wandering teacher” for this reason.

With a love for Sơn Đoòng, Hương expressed concern over the plan to build a cable car system leading to the cave.

“Vietnamese take pride in their beautiful landscapes recognised as the world’s natural heritage sites. But they don’t take action to protect them,” she said. “Why does a foreigner like Dr Limbert come forward and try to protect the Sơn Đoòng Cave, while Vietnamese don’t?”

Hương decided to take action to save Sơn Đoòng. She sent letters to many Vietnamese and foreign organisations and agencies. Her articles had thousands of views on the internet. After catching the attention of the public and mass media, she decided to develop a serious campaign to protect the cave. She teamed up with the founder of Facebook group #SaveSonDoong and a group of young people in HCM City to develop a website and plan events to popularise Sơn Đoòng. 

The SaveSon Doong campaign took shape. Hương and her co-workers received both support and criticism from the public. From these challenges, her team learned how to manage the social network more effectively by respecting all opinions in the community and using different approaches for each scenario

“I’m so afraid of the opinions that ‘we can’t do anything’ and ‘the campaign wouldn’t help change anything,’” Hương said.

“I believe that the faith of our environment is in our hands. The way we express our perspective partly influences society.”

The cable car system is a business project, and the investors do it for profit. If people boycott the project and refuse to use cable cars, investors won’t have the motivation to carry out the project, according to Hương. 

She took advantage of the chance to meet President Obama to ask him, “How would you like to discover Sơn Đoòng Cave: on foot or by cable car?" And he said: “First of all, I really want to go to visit Sơn Đoòng, the next time I come. And you know, I’m a pretty healthy guy so I can go on foot. How long is it? Seven days? I’m good. Alright. I can do that.”

During the meeting, the US President strongly emphasised sustainable development.

"If we’re gonna ensure the health of our people and the beauty of our planet, then development has to be sustainable. Natural wonders like Hạ Long Bay and Sơn Đoòng Cave have to be preserved for our children, our grandchildren,” he said.

Hương was so happy and felt motivated by this answer. She expects that President Obama’s opinion will be heard by Vietnamese leaders.

“I feel embarrassed when we have a natural wonder but don’t protect it,” she said. “When we raise our voice to save heritage, we can proudly tell our descendents that we have tried to preserve the best for them.” -- VNS

GLOSSARY

When US President Barack Obama met with young Vietnamese at the National Convention Centre in Hà Nội in May during his visit to Việt Nam, a woman presented him with a conical hat and a T-shirt imprinted with the slogan “Save Sơn Đoòng”.

A conical hat is one that is shaped like a cone.

 

That woman was Lê Nguyễn Thiên Hương, 24, an alumnus of California State University Fullerton.

 

An alumnus (plural, alumni) is someone who was once a student at a college or a university.

She founded the Save Sơn Đoòng organisation that works to get people involved in protecting the pristine beauty of the largest known cave in the world, and its surrounding natural environment.

Founded means started.

 

Pristine means untouched and unspoilt.

Currently, she works as a teacher and PR officer in HCM City.

Currently means now.

A PR officer is a public relations officer.

In 2014, she read that a cable car would be built inside the cave to serve 8,000 travellers a day. She thought it would have a negative impact on the local ecosystem.

If something has a negative impact on the ecosystem, it would affect it in a bad way.

 

An ecosystem is a community of living things such as plants, insects, fish, birds and animals in a certain place that all live together and may also live off one another.

Hương said she had always liked reading Doraemon, a comic book about adventurous explorations into the entrails of the Earth.

The entrails of the Earth are the innermost parts of the Earth.

“I often tell my students about life around the world, what I witnessed and learnt on the way.”

To witness something means to see it happening.

With a love for Sơn Đoòng, Hương expressed concern over the plan to build a cable car system leading to the cave.

To express something means to talk about it.

 

Concern about something means worrying and caring about it.

“Vietnamese take pride in their beautiful landscapes recognised as the world’s natural heritage sites.”

A natural heritage site is a natural place that the United Nations has decided is so nice it is not only important to people in the country where it is situated but it is important to everyone in the world. 

“Why does a foreigner like Dr Limbert come forward and try to protect the Sơn Đoòng Cave, while Vietnamese don’t?”

A foreigner is someone from another country.

Hương and her co-workers received both support and criticism from the public.

If you face criticism, you face comments about your doing something wrong or incorrectly.

From these challenges, her team learned how to manage the social network more effectively by respecting all opinions in the community and using different approaches for each scenario

A scenario means a situation.

“The way we express our perspective partly influences society.”

Your perspective is your point of view

 

To influence society means to be able to affect the way society behaves.

 

Society is the general public, living in an ordered community.

If people boycott the project and refuse to use cable cars, investors won’t have the motivation to carry out the project, according to Hương. 

To boycott something means to not use it, or buy it, in the hope of bringing about change.

 

Investors are people who spend money on something in the hope of making more money from it.

 

Motivation is the reason for behaving in a certain way.

She took advantage of the chance to meet President Obama to ask him, “How would you like to discover Sơn Đoòng Cave: on foot or by cable car?"

To take advantage of something means to use it for your own good.

During the meeting, the US President strongly emphasised sustainable development.

To emphasize something means to give it special importance.

 

Sustainable development means development that happens in a way that does not take away things that cannot be replaced.

 

“I feel embarrassed when we have a natural wonder but don’t protect it,” she said.

 

To feel embarrassed means to feel confusion and shame.

 

“When we raise our voice to save heritage, we can proudly tell our descendents that we have tried to preserve the best for them.”

 

Heritage is made up of things that are passed down to you from previous generations.

 

Your descendants are your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on.

 

To preserve something means to keep it in good condition.

 

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

 

  1. The surname of the President of the United States.
  2. The month when the President of the United States met with young Vietnamese at the National Convention Centre in Hà Nội.
  3. The type of shelter that you would find at Sơn Đoòng.
  4. A social media platform.
  5. Somebody from another country.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Obama; 2. May; 3. Cave; 4. Facebook; 5. Foreigner.

 

 

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