Viet Nam News
QUẢNG TRỊ — “Việt Nam – Our motherland/With vast paddy fields, no paradise on earth can be comparable/ Cranes’ wings spread over the sky/ Trường Sơn Mountain hides in fluffy clouds.”
An extract from poet Nguyễn Đình Thi’s Việt Nam - Our Motherland is the first lesson Hoàng Ly Ly, 24, from Cam Lộ District in the central province of Quảng Trị teaches her Vietnamese students in Seno, a small town in Savannakhet Province, Laos.
It was a special day when Ly, graduating from Quảng Trị Province’s College of Education with honours more than two years ago, submitted her letter asking to voluntarily teach language and literature for Vietnamese children living in Laos.
Ly was sent to Nguyễn Trãi Primary School in Seno Town. The school has 223 students, all Vietnamese. While Lao teachers are in charge of social and natural sciences, Ly teaches them their mother tongue.
It is the pride of the Vietnamese community in Seno to have a local school named after a Vietnamese scholar. However, its syllabus has to follow the host country’s regulations in which Vietnamese is considered a foreign language.
To help students speak their mother tongue fluently and acquire sound knowledge of their roots, the school offers three Vietnamese sessions a week for each class.
Ly said that Nguyễn Đình Thi’s words were the best way for students to start building an imaginative bridge with their homeland.
She uses music and poems to convey Việt Nam’s landscapes and cultural values to children born and living abroad.
Recalling her first day there, Ly had to struggle with Lao to communicate with students. The language barrier was huge as the Vietnamese children were not familiar with the Vietnamese language.
With a guitar, she also sings songs from Việt Nam such as the national anthemn and folk songs, along with making traditional dishes and crafts.
Ly has become her students’ big sister.
Vietnamese has been gradually forgotten in the Việt community in Savannakhet Province. Children grow up without understanding their mother tongue which has led to the rapid erosion of traditional values.
Teachers from Việt Nam like Ly are warmly welcomed by local Vietnamese expats.
A summer vacation of three months seemed so long to Ly’s students as they waited for her to come back.
Nguyễn Thị Tâm, a fourth grader at Nguyễn Trãi Primary School, even asked her grandfather to call Ly and talked to her in Vietnamese so she did not forget even one word.
From 2018 to 2019, Quảng Trị Province and Vietnamese People Association in Savannakhet Province will continue their co-operation to bring Vietnamese teachers to Laos.
Ly is again featured in the list.
Her luggage this time was much heavier than the first time. Rice, instant noodles, dried fish and candy all made in Việt Nam were presented to Vietnamese people living in Seno and her students.
Pulling a guitar onto her shoulder, Ly hopped on a coach, starting her journey of sowing seeds of the motherland into the minds of Vietnamese children living in the neighbouring country. — VNS