by Thu Hang
Kids join celebrities on stage to stop rhino-horn trade
Students at HCM City schools have been more than thrilled to play thespian for the day in the Rhino at School programme that kicked off last Monday, organised by the US-based WildAid, African Wildlife Foundation and the CHANGE Centre, a Vietnamese non-profit organisation.
As part of the programme, volunteers from the HCM City University of Theatre and Cinema have been visiting primary and secondary schools to stage a 15-minute play, Ta cung xu an (Together We Hear a Case), which focuses on the rhino-horn trade.
Near the end of the drama, the actors invite students to play the part of wild animals and decide how the performance should end.
Popular singer Thu Minh, singer/composer Thanh Bui and actress Hong Aùnh have all been assisting in the performances, which will take place until the end of November.
Well-known directors Nguyen Thi Minh Ngoc and Xuan Hong wrote the script for the short play, as well as for the play Dung hay sai (Right or Wrong), which is being performed at HCM City high schools.
The programme is part of the international campaign "Stop Using Rhino Horn", which aims to raise awareness of the rhino-horn crisis. Organisers say the two plays will be seen by about 5,000 students at HCM City schools.
Blind student joins elite group of scholarship recipients
It's not easy for anyone to win a full scholarship of more than VND700 million (US$34,000) to attend RMIT University in HCM City's District 7. For Nguyen Thanh Vinh, who lost his sight in a tragic accident when he was 19 months old, the road to university has been a long one.
As a young man from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Long An, Vinh had to live away from home to study at Nguyen Dinh Chieu School for the Blind in HCM City.
"It was the hardest time for me as it was the first time I was away from my parents, and I had to do everything myself, from washing clothes to washing dishes to studying," he said.
"It took me three to four months to get along with my new life and I cried a lot as I missed my family."
A breakthrough of sorts happened when Loreto Vietnam Australia began offering English-language classes, his favourite subject, at the school when Vinh was seven years old.
With an assistant from the programme, his language skills improved and after graduation from high school, he applied to Tan Tao University in his hometown. But they did not want to admit a non-sighted person.
So he sent a letter to the school's managing board, who were impressed with his passion and confidence and decided to enroll him. He was the school's first sight impaired student.
After studying as an English major for two years, he applied for a scholarship at RMIT University, progressing through two rounds of selection, including application approvals by independent judges and an interview in English.
The 20-year-old says he chose communications as his major so that he could "study and work just like sighted people".
Carol Whitney, disability and learning skills advisor at RMIT, describes Vinh as energetic, confident and open-hearted. — VNS