Monday, December 10 2018

VietNamNews

Nun gets children reading

Update: May, 27/2018 - 09:00
Nun Thích Nữ Quảng Phát with children in the northern province of Sơn La in her charity trip to the locality. Photo courtesy of Thiên Phúc Pagoda
Viet Nam News

Thích Nữ Quảng Phát is a woman who has given her life completely  to serve her religion.

Such women are called nuns.

She chose not to marry and have a family, especially after seeing a couple who were her neighbours fighting all the time.

As a nun, she has started a library at a pagoda where children comes and read books.

Lê Hương chats with her about her passion.

Inner Sanctum: Please tell me about your faith and Buddhism.

I was inspired by my parents, who are Buddhists, at a very young age. When I was four, my dad took me to a pagoda in the southern city of Vũng Tàu to learn Buddhist teachings. Though my homeland is in the central province of Quảng Trị, when I was one year old, my family moved to Vũng Tàu. There have been many incidents that made me decide to lead a nun’s life. But I strongly remember a ceremony I witnessed when I was young. People flocked to a local pagoda and stood in two long queues. When the monk s appeared, the people respectfully greeted them. When I was a little older, some eight or nine years old, I used to help local monks while they were praying, by fanning them with a paper fan as there was no electricity in my town at that time, giving them water, etc. I found no image more beautiful than that of the monks and I admired them. At that time, I thought that I would become a nun when I grew up.

Then I learnt Buddhism, I applied Buddhist teachings in my daily life and found that my life was better than that of any of my friends, as I could overcome all ordinary troubles. Besides, I saw people living together, but they were unhappy. Two couples living next to my home quarreled and fought with each other almost everyday. I thought I would lead a different life to find happiness.

When I finished 9th grade, I decided to lead a nun’s life. My parents were very happy and proud, as most of the people in the central region at that time were happy if a family member lead a monk’s/nun’s life.

Then I moved to a pagoda in HCM City. Finally in 2010, I settled down in Thiên Phúc Pagoda in Thái Bình Province, until now.

Inner Sanctum: Tell me about the idea of setting up a library at your pagoda.

Though my dad was a farmer, I found him smart and knowledgeable. He inspired me to read books to widen my knowledge.

I bought a lot of books and kept them all. One day, I discovered that it would be a waste if I did not share my stock with anyone else.

There was a classroom near my pagoda, where some 50 students passed by everyday. They always visited my pagoda to play in the garden with the five children I adopted. I started giving them books with beautiful pictures and adventure stories first. They were allured and stopped at my garden longer to read more after class.

At first, teachers and parents prohibited the children from their noisy play near my pagoda. Two years later, in 2015, a volunteer group called Hương Mặt Trời initiated by secondary school teacher Dương Lệ Nga found my pagoda an interesting place to read. My library served hundreds of school students in Quỳnh Phụ District of the province.

I always tell them: "What we study at school is like some leaves in our hands, what we don’t know is like leaves in the forest. If we want to know more, we must read books."

Around that time, I found out that books had changed the lives of many people, such as two handicapped youngsters in the province: Nguyễn Lan Hương and Đỗ Hà Cừ. They liked books and gathered a lot of books to share with their friends. They even called for sponsors to send more books to their home libraries called Niềm Tin (Belief) and Hy Vọng (Hope), respectively.

If they didn’t like reading, their world would be limited to the four walls of their home. But books have given them a chance to make their life better and to inspire others to read.

And I too want to get more books with the hope of changing the lives of many local children.

Inner Sanctum: How have you managed to lure children to read?

Children’s nature is playful. It’s very difficult to force them to sit for hours to read, except by alluring them with comic books or adventure stories. My first and foremost task was planting flowers to decorate the pagoda. The space should be beautiful so that children flock there to play, then I have the chance to meet them and introduce books to them.

The habit of reading is not easily created. We should be patient and do everything again and again, repeat the activity every day, every week, every month. Hence, I have turned my pagoda into a beautiful library, cool, quiet, with lots of books.

I often buy new genres of flowers to plant. Our reading corner is now judged as the most beautiful reading venue in Quỳnh Phụ District.

Since the Hương Mặt Trời Group, which gathers dozens of high school students in the district, meets here every Sunday afternoon, parents no longer prohibit their children from reading at my pagoda. They sometime stop at the pagoda to read before going home from extra class.

They are also guided on playing folk games such as hide and seek, Mandarin square capturing, blind man’s buff and tug of war. Sometimes I teach them to practise Zen.

On public holidays or Buddhist festivals, there are various themed reading activities at the pagoda’s garden. Books are hung in the garden for children to choose. Children can join the games or offer self-cooked food to raise funds.

I organise talks on books almost every month and invite famous educators, writers and influential people to talk to the children.

Buddhists and sponsors from all around the country often send books to our library.

Inner Sanctum: What’s your plan for the library?

At present, our indoor library covering a 180sq.m hall keeps more than 5,000 books. I intend to build a house-on-stilts in our 3,000sq.m. garden to offer a more open reading space. Local authorities also want to build two more reading rooms at a nearby lake. We are willing to receive more books. We will exchange old books with other libraries in the province.

Inner Sanctum: What’s your principle in life?

- I love a poem by famous Vietnamese poet Tố Hữu, in which he says: "Living means giving, not receiving for ourselves."

I give people what I have, with the hope of offering them more chances to make their lives better.—VNS


 

 

GLOSSARY

I was inspired by my parents, who are Buddhists, at a very young age.

To be inspired means to be influenced to want to go out and do something positive.

But I strongly remember a ceremony I witnessed when I was young.

Witnessed means saw.

When the monks appeared, the people respectfully greeted them.

To greet someone respectfully means to greet that person in such a way that you show that you think he, or she, is a person of great worth.

When I was a little older, some eight or nine years old, I used to help local monks while they were praying, by fanning them with a paper fan as there was no electricity in my town at that time, giving them water, etc. I found no image more beautiful than that of the monks and I admired them.

Fanning means moving the air around using a fan, or something similar, to make it cooler.

An image is a sight.

To admire someone means to think highly of them.

Then I learnt Buddhism, I applied Buddhist teachings in my daily life and found that my life was better than that of any of my friends, as I could overcome all ordinary troubles.

To overcome troubles means to win over them.

Two couples living next to my home quarrelled and fought with each other almost everyday.

To quarrel means to argue.

One day, I discovered that it would be a waste if I did not share my stock with anyone else.

Stock means supplies.

They always visited my pagoda to play in the garden with the five children I adopted.

To adopt a child means to take on a child that is not yours biologically, as your own.

They were allured and stopped at my garden longer to read more after class.

To be allured means to be drawn to something, or someone, through fascination.

At first, teachers and parents prohibited the children from their noisy play near my pagoda.

If parents prohibited children from playing they would not have allowed them to do so.

Two years later, in 2015, a volunteer group called Hương Mặt Trời initiated by secondary school teacher Dương Lệ Nga found my pagoda an interesting place to read.

A volunteer is someone who is willing to do a job, or perform a duty, for no pay.

A secondary school is a high school.

Around that time, I found out that books had changed the lives of many people, such as two handicapped youngsters in the province: Nguyễn Lan Hương and Đỗ Hà Cừ.

A handicapped person is a person with a disability.

My first and foremost task was planting flowers to decorate the pagoda.

 Foremost means“most important”.

The habit of reading is not easily created.

A habit is something you do regularly, often without thinking about it.

We should be patient and do everything again and again, repeat the activity every day, every week, every month.

To be patient means to be able to not be in a hurry and need things to be done very quickly.

I often buy new genres of flowers to plant.

Genres of flowers are types of flowers that fit into a group, or family of flowers. For examples, different types of roses are a genre of flowers and different types of orchids are another genre of flowers.

I organise talks on books almost every month and invite famous educators, writers and influential people to talk to the children.

Influential people are people with lots of power and influence.

I intend to build a house-on-stilts in our 3,000sq.m. garden to offer a more open reading space.

To intend to do something means to plan and want to do it.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A world religion.
  2. The male equivalent of nuns.
  3. Thích Nữ Quảng Phát’s father’s job.
  4. A room filled with books.
  5. Plants that be used to decorate a pagoda.

 

 

 

l

i

b

r

a

r

y

j

s

g

u

d

f

t

b

s

e

n

i

g

h

t

e

l

l

p

h

t

p

d

y

t

j

o

y

p

o

a

s

i

k

g

s

r

t

l

o

s

w

i

v

b

o

i

r

y

a

r

l

m

e

e

h

f

h

u

r

t

e

e

n

o

r

s

a

d

s

r

i

d

g

e

b

n

s

f

d

b

e

b

o

o

k

a

c

k

s

u

i

t

z

e

r

l

a

n

d

s

b

r

w

c

a

m

f

a

r

m

e

r

 

ANSWERS:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Buddhist; 2. Monks; 3. Farmer; 4. Library; 5. Flowers.

 

 

 

Send Us Your Comments:

See also: