|Fertile imagination: Super Crab Car by eight-year-old Bui Thanh Mai did Viet Nam proud, winning the Toyota World Dream Car contest from more than 662,000 submissions.
by Ha Nguyen
Bui Thanh Mai, 8, of Ninh Binh Province, has become the only Vietnamese child to win the gold medal at Toyota's World Dream Car Art Contest held in Japan last August.
Mai's painting, entitled, Super Crab Car, beat more than 662,000 paintings made by local primary students and over 600 shortlisted works by children of 75 countries and territories to win the contest.
Mai is currently a third grader at the Le Hong Phong Primary School in Tam Diep town.
Her mother Bui Thi Hong, who is an arts teacher at the Dong Son Primary School in the same province, told Viet Nam News that since the contest had been launched during the 2013-2014 school year, her daughter had been excited to compete in it.
"She used to think about the contest all the time and once, when we visited our village, which is located some 100 kilometres from our town, Mai discovered a crab crawling in the field. She told me that she will paint the crab as a super car because it can crawl on any terrain," Hong said.
Mai said she had been taught a lesson by her teacher in which she had learnt that communicating in the mountainous areas is very difficult so, "I want to make a crab car using solar energy that can move on all terrains and also allow farmers to get a chance to go by car and help them in taking care of their rice fields and waste."
"I wish my dream car can become a reality soon," she said. Her mother said it took her daughter two days to finish the painting. She also said that her daughter had been interested in drawing since she was three years old.
"In kindergarten, Mai was different from her friends, who liked to play with toys, while she spent all her time drawing houses, trees, and animals, as well as other things that she saw around her," Hong said.
She said that when she saw her daughter's passion for painting, she started encouraging her to join different painting clubs in the summer. She also let her daughter join a class for painting and spent time to help her daughter learn drawing and colouring.
"When we submitted Mai's work for the contest, my family members did not think she would win the prize because hundreds of thousands of students also planned to compete in the contest."
"One day suddenly, we received a letter informing us to go to Hue City in to receive the first and only gold prize awarded to Viet Nam. We were so happy that we all held each other and cried."
"Our happiness was further multiplied when organisers told us that Mai's work was chosen for submission to Toyota's World Dream Car Contest in Japan," Hong said.
Mai's fine arts teacher Nguyen Thi Lan, said since she was enrolled in the first grade, Mai had been 'like a fish out of water' in learning how to read and write, but had always exhibited a strong desire to paint.
"We were very happy and proud when we heard that Mai was awarded the international gold medal in Tokyo," she said.
Asked about her of visit to Tokyo, Mai said she had been very moved when she was given the award.
"While touring Tokyo and its bay, I became tired because I was seasick. The two Japanese gentlemen in charge of the tour took very good care of me. They brought me to my hotel and asked me about my health. They were so kind hearted," said Mai.
She added that she was most impressed with a visit to the Toyota museum where, "I saw many cars and witnessed the process of producing them. I was so happy after I was allowed to pick up parts to assemble a toy car, which I was presented later to take home."
Mai said Toyota's Traffic Safety Education programme known as TSEP, is very useful, "because through the programme, we know that we should wear a helmet and be calm while sitting on our parents' motorbike and that we should always ask our parents and relatives to stop before a red light."
Mai told Viet Nam News, "I hate people who try to violate traffic laws by jumping the red light and or drive their motorbike very fast," which causes injuries and deaths of many people.
The Traffic Safety Education Programme continued last week. Toyota launched the Traffic Safety Education Programme during the 2014 to 2015 school year, when it also held the 4th World Dream Car Drawing Contest.
In co-operation with the National Traffic Safety Committee and the Ministry of Education and Training's Department of Primary Education, the programme, aims to educate children nationwide about traffic safety awareness.
Started a decade ago with the spirit of "learning through playing, playing to learn," TSEP has developed new teaching methods through interesting and helpful documents.
The programme has provided more than 7.5 million traffic safety textbooks to primary school students, 47,000 big teaching books, more than 65,000 VCDs, and nearly 129,000 guide books for elementary teachers.
The programme has also held 32 seminars about traffic safety for nearly 4,300 key managers and teachers from many primary schools, nearly 60 contests on traffic safety and 3 Dream Car Drawing contests.
"Through this medium, learning about traffic safety becomes attractive, interesting and easy for students to recall," said Pham Ngoc Dinh, head of the Department of Primary Education.