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VietNamNews

Pens have a mighty meaning for a certain doctor

Update: April, 28/2018 - 07:00
The pens come in many shapes and sizes. — Photo plo.vn
Viet Nam News

Pens mean a lot to a doctor from Khánh Hòa Province.

When he was a poor boy, a teacher gave him a chance to have an education.

Nguyễn Văn Xáng was also given a pen.

He has collected pens ever since and now has two and a half thousand of them in his collection.

by An Vũ and Văn Giang

Some people collect luxury cars, scooters, expensive purses or limited-edition sneakers. For Dr Nguyễn Văn Xáng, the only thing worth collecting is something most of us take for granted in daily life: pens.

Born to a poor family with no opportunity to get a proper education, Xáng has made a fortune out of adversity. He studied for free with a village teacher, and was even donated nib pens, ink and writing paper. This schooling opened the door to the rest of his life.

Xáng is now a medical doctor and director of Khánh Hòa Province Hospital. To remember the teacher who gave him access to education, he keeps a nib as a treasure, which sparked his passion for pen collection.

To him, every pen carries a nice memory, an aspect of human life and aesthetic style.  

Dr Xáng’s living room in Mỹ Gia town, Nha Trang City is evidence of his great admiration for pens.

Thousands of pens with different colours, shapes, sizes are displayed throughout the home. Some even have the shape of vegetables, fruits and injection needles.

“All of them are pens. I have a dozen pens the size of my biceps and some as small as needles. They have different values,” Xáng said, taking out a nib pen from a cupboard. “This is the pen which led me to the treasure of knowledge. Each time I look at it, it’s like I can come back to my childhood.”

“Because of my family circumstances, I was not able to receive a full education. But I was lucky enough to meet my first teacher, who was willing to open his home for a free class to children in the village. I was one of his students. Seeing me coming to class without pens and notebooks, he gave me a nib pen and a pot of ink.

Each day, we went to class with our pens, practising every pen stroke. Day by day, I became more skillful, and the pen became my first friend who taught me how to grow up,” Xáng said.         

In 1995, when Xáng went to Germany to study otorhinolaryngology—care of the ear, nose and throat—he was given a gift from his German teacher: a pen and a medical lamp. Ever since, the gifts have remained with him as reminders of his duty to seek strong professional knowledge.

After getting back to Việt Nam and going to Nha Trang City for work, he spent his free time looking at the pens as treasures to recall his childhood memories.

Wherever he travelled, he would buy one or two rare, unique pens to remember the visit. He has collected over 2,000 pens; they reflect the special experiences of his business trips, scientific seminars, or just strange encounters.

In 2009, when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the US and the first African American to hold that position, Xáng wanted to obtain a president-shaped pen for his own possession. Therefore, he contacted his friends in the US to tell them about his wishes.  

“The pen is a sign of linguistic culture, expressing the knowledge, inner feelings and affection when spoken words cannot. At the same time, the pen is an integral tool for our lives. It delivers the thoughts and mindset, acknowledging the creativity of people, and collecting bittersweet memories in life. Therefore, each time I pick up a pen, I remember the difficulty and events I have been through,” Xáng said.

Collecting pens is a refined, enjoyable hobby to fill spare time. People who are fond of collecting things find fun and thrills by obtaining the objects they like. To any collector, the joy of observing their favourite items is indescribable, especially the ones which are rare and unique.

Xáng can be found standing for hours, gazing at his pens. He enjoys their bright colours, the diverse shapes of their bodies and the memories they represent.

After stressful work hours, Xáng leisurely watches his collection. “Painstakingly cleaning every single pen makes me young again, and acts as a remedy for releasing stress,” he said.

Moreover, his pen collection is a tool to educate his children to treasure the small but important things in life.

Recently, he has been recognised by the Vietnamese Guinness book as the man who has collected the most pens in Việt Nam. “To me, collecting pens is not for reward, only for passion and memory keeping. I will never stop doing it,” he said. -- VNS

GLOSSARY

Some people collect luxury cars, scooters, expensive purses or limited-edition sneakers.

Sneakers are running shoes. If only a certain number of a type of sneakers is made, it would be a limited-edition pair of sneakers.

Born to a poor family with no opportunity to get a proper education, Xáng has made a fortune out of adversity.

A fortune means a collection of wealth, usually money.

An adversity is something that keeps you from going forward in life.

He studied for free with a village teacher, and was even donated nib pens, ink and writing paper.

The nib of a pen is the pointed part at the end, which touches the paper when someone uses it to write.

To remember the teacher who gave him access to education, he keeps a nib as a treasure, which sparked his passion for pen collection.

To have access to education means to be able to have the chance to go to school.

If you have a passion for something, you love it so much you do not mind how much time or money you spend on it.

To him, every pen carries a nice memory, an aspect of human life and aesthetic style.  

An aspect of human life means a side of human life. Different sides of human life may be loneliness, joy, romance, cruelty, kindness and so on.

Aesthetic means nice looking.

Dr Xáng’s living room in Mỹ Gia Town, Nha Trang City is evidence of his great admiration for pens.

Evidence means proof.

Some even have the shape of vegetables, fruits and injection needles.

An injection is a surgical procedure that involves putting medicine into the body using a needle and syringe.

“All of them are pens. I have a dozen pens the size of my biceps and some as small as needles.

A dozen means “some” but, more exactly, it means twelve.

Biceps are muscles on the upper arm.

“Because of my family circumstances, I was not able to receive a full education.”

Family circumstances means the situation you find yourself in with regard to your family’s situation.

 Wherever he travelled, he would buy one or two rare, unique pens to remember the visit. 

If something is rare there are not many of them.

If something is unique there is only one of it.

He has collected over 2,000 pens; they reflect the special experiences of his business trips, scientific seminars, or just strange encounters.

Reflect means show.

Encounters are happenings.

In 2009, when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the US and the first African American to hold that position, Xáng wanted to obtain a president-shaped pen for his own possession.

Obtain means get.

If something is in your possession, you have it as a piece of your property.

“The pen is a sign of linguistic culture, expressing the knowledge, inner feelings and affection when spoken words cannot.”

Linguistic means to do with language.

“At the same time, the pen is an integral tool for our lives.”

Integral means essential.

“It delivers the thoughts and mindset, acknowledging the creativity of people, and collecting bittersweet memories in life.”

Bittersweet means pleasure that comes out of sadness.

Collecting pens is a refined, enjoyable hobby to fill spare time.

Refined means sophisticated.

A hobby is something you do in your spare time to keep yourself busy.

To any collector, the joy of observing their favourite items is indescribable, especially the ones which are rare and unique.

If something is indescribable, there are not enough words to explain it.

Xáng can be found standing for hours, gazing at his pens.

Gazing means staring.

He enjoys their bright colours, the diverse shapes of their bodies and the memories they represent.

Diverse means different.

Painstakingly cleaning every single pen makes me young again, and acts as a remedy for releasing stress,” he said.

Painstakingly means with great care.

Remedy means a treatment or a medicine.

Stress is the uncomfortable feeling of having too much in your life that is not under your control.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A two-wheeled vehicle some people keep many of in collections.
  2. The shape in which some of Nguyễn Văn Xáng’s pens appear.
  3. The country in Europe where Nguyễn Văn Xáng studied.
  4. The last name of a former United States president.
  5. When Nguyễn Văn Xáng will stop collecting pens.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Scooters; 2. Fruits; 3. Germany; 4. Obama; 5. Never.

 

 

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