Kaleidoscope (Apr 19, 2015)

Update: April, 21/2015 - 16:00

by Hoang Ha

Memory serves student right at an incredible rate

A 27-year-old Vietnamese man has won a place in the Thailand Book of Records for his incredible memory during a two-hour challenge.

Duong Anh Vu, 27, from the southern central province of Ninh Thuan, a student at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, set a record for recalling the database of 206 countries with only one error late last month.

Vu memorised 22,248 pieces of data related to cultural, economic, political and social information. He also memorised and correctly identified 2,500 geographical names on a blank world map.

Vu is the second foreigner to be named in the book, and the first foreigner ever to be named in the memory category of the book.

His attempt was witnessed by four officials of the Thailand Book of Records, one engineering professor of Chulalongkorn University and 28 students.

Vu, who is now a doctoral student in Thailand, was not always such an academic whiz. In the past, he had to repeat classes at a semi-public secondary school in Viet Nam, and spent his high school years making poor grades.

Vu has registered for another memory attempt, aiming to recall more than 1,000 literary works and locate 20,000 geographical names on a world map.

Retiree sits for high school exam, targets medical school

To Van Liem, 59, a resident of Cu Chi District, has registered to attend the upcoming national high school graduation exam. He is the oldest student ever to register for the test in HCM City.

Liem, who graduated from high school in 1978, studied at a vocational school and worked in the health sector.

He says he now wants to use his free time to review his knowledge of subjects he studied in high school.

"After getting my scores, I will apply for admission to the faculty of medicine of HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy and several others," Liem says.

In the past, there have been several over-50s taking the university admission exam. Last year, Nguyen Van Hoang, 53, a resident of Nha Trang City, registered at Da Lat University's History Pedagogy Faculty. In 2012, Nguyen Thi Phong, 56, of Nghe An Province, took the exam so that she could attend HCM City University of Sciences, Social Studies and Humanities.

This year, the high school graduation and university entrance exams have for the first time been fused into one exam. Scheduled for June 1, the exam will test three compulsory subjects of maths, literature and foreign language, and one optional subject. Students have to take extra tests in other subjects, depending on their chosen majors and the requirements of the universities where they want to attend. VNS

French man spends seven years looking for Vnese mother

Frenchman Rene Fairy has one overriding goal in his life: to find his Vietnamese mother.

With an old ink-smeared birth certificate and a smattering of Vietnamese language, Fairy has visited authorities and media in HCM City and VuF5ng TaF8u over the past seven years seeking information about the woman. Each year, he saves money and sets aside all of his obligations in France to fly to Viet Nam for a few months.

Fairy, born in 1948 in the former Phuoc Le Commune, now Vung Tau City in Ba Ria - VuF5ng TaF8u Province, is the son of female Vietnamese nurse Bui Thi Nam and a French soldier.

After he was born, his mother placed him in an orphanage in Da Lat City. Rare photos show an image of a woman with a delicate appearance and gentle smile occasionally visiting him. Years later, however, she stopped coming.

In 1955, after the Geneva Accords, the French withdrew from Viet Nam, and Fairy was one of 4,500 children of soldiers who left the country for France.

Seven years old at the time, Fairy says he left the orphanage without a farewell from his parents.

In France, he was taken to an orphanage in Marseilles and given a French name. After more than 50 years striving to make a living in different occupations, Fairy says he never thought about returning to Viet Nam until his daughter said she wanted to see her grandmother.

Fairy says he went through many hardships looking for his French father, who along with many other French soldiers, left Viet Nam when he was only one year old. He finally found him in 2007, but three years after their reunion on the island of Martinique, he died.

Now, nothing can stop Fairy from finding information about his mother.

"I want to see my mother. Even if she has died, I would like to visit her grave," he says. — VNS