by Phuong Mai
Skipping classes before school
Tran Thi Phuong Vy began skipping classes long before she joined school.
When she was five months old, she skipped crawling and began to walk. When she was two, she began reading. And now, at three, she can read Vietnamese fluently, do simple math operations and even sing English songs.
The mother of the girl, Tran Thi Tuyen, is at a loss.
"I can't understand why my daughter has such abilities."
Vy was born at the mountainous district of Huong Khe in Ha Tinh Province. She does not have a father, and her mother suffers from a mental illness.
A teacher at the Hoa Hai kindergarten said Vy is able to read a full article in a newspaper fluently, and perform four basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Apparently, no one has taught Vy any of these things.
Vy can even sing English songs like Five Little Ducks and Happy New Year on the karaoke system, says Nguyen Van Lap, her neighbour.
"All my life, I have never seen such special abilities like those of Vy," Lap said.
Although Vy is very special, her mother is too poor to send her to kindergarten. So the neighbours have done something special - they have donated money to help her attend school.
Rare talent nurtured in Russia
Hoang Pham Tra Mi also began her education unusually early.
She was just four when she began studying music in Russia. When she was nine, she studied piano at the Grieg Music School in Moscow.
This year, the 15-year-old pianist was recognised as one of the 10 most outstanding Vietnamese youth in 2011.
In fact, she is the youngest of the ten winners chosen from talented youth in different areas including scientific research, production, society, sports, culture, art, security and national defence.
The "Outstanding Young Vietnamese People" prize is a recognition awarded by the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union.
Born and brought up in Russia, the teenage pianist has won dozens of prizes from Russian and international organisations.
Her first international victory was the first prize at the International Chopin piano competition in Singapore in 2010. That year, she also won gold prize at the Festival and Competition Cheonan in South Korea.
In 2011, Mi won first prize at the "Nuits Panistiques" competition in France, and second prize at the third international Austrian piano competition called "Rosario Marciano" in Vienna.
After 12 years of living in Russia, Mi returned to her fatherland and continued her studies at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music in Ha Noi.
After completing her study here, she will enter the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.
"Music helps me grow more and more," Mi said. — VNS