by Xuan Hiep
Old house hosts ca tru shows
Foreigners are flocking to an architecturally interesting house in Ha Noi's Old Quarter to listen to ca tru, a traditional Vietnamese musical genre that originated in the North.
During the performances on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings, a singer is accompanied by the dan day, a Vietnamese three-string lute, as well as other musical instruments.
The performers, members of the Ca Tru Thang Long Club, also take time to teach foreign visitors some basic melodies on the instruments, and describe the history and development of ca tru in both Vietnamese and English.
The old house, located at 87 Ma May Street in Hoan Kiem District, opened to tourists in 2006. Pham Thi Hue, the founded of the club, said: "We want to provide performances every day so as many visitors as possible can learn about it. This is our great desire."
In 2009, ca tru was recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
Mechanic teaches street kids
Every night, from 7pm to 9pm, a group of street children gather at a corner in Can Giuoc town in the southern province of Long An to take part in a class taught by a mechanic.
Many of the children are online-game addicts, according to Le Phat Phuoc, who has been "teaching" the informal class for eight years.
Although he has no formal training, Phuoc says he wanted to start the "class" after noticing that many students were skipping school and playing online games. Some of them were also selling goods on the street to help their parents.
The main purpose, he says, is not to teach maths, history or literature but moral lessons about real life.
He offers "instruction" about the negative impact of drugs and online-game addiction, and makes them aware of laws and regulations.
Many of the students have given up their bad habits, Phuoc says.
One eighth grader, for example, often skipped classes to play games, but after attending the street sessions, he returned to school, Phuoc recalls.
However, he soon reverted to his old ways, so Phuoc met the boy face-to-face to persuade him to return to school, which he did. Since then, he has made good marks as well.
Nguyen Thi Hong Nga, head master of Nguyen Thi Bai High School in Can Giuoc town, said: "Many students skip calls to play online games. When the school heard about Phuoc's skills in advising and persuading students, we decided to seek him out."
"What a surprise! He was willing to help us with these students, who returned to school without any conditions."
Phuoc's "class" on the street sometimes has up to 40 students, with most of them self-professed pickpockets and delinquents who often get involved in local fights.
Phuoc says he is working closely with the local authority to help the students to return to school or apply for a job.
With such resounding success, the 42-year-old has no qualms to play the role of "teacher" for life. — VNS