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First Vietnamese sight-impaired MC inspires passion for life

Update: October, 07/2018 - 09:00
Giang’s determination to pursue her passion has inspired many Vietnamese handicapped. Photo courtesy of Lê Hương Giang
Viet Nam News

Lê Hương Giang has overcome a disability that left her blind as a sixth grader and is now a popular TV and radio presenter who is shining a light for others. Lương Thu Hương reports.

What would you do if one day you lost your sight? Would you choose to lead a secluded life in the darkness or courageously step outside and lead an active life to pursue your passions? For Lê Hương Giang she has chosen the second path.

The 23-year-old is now a student at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities pursuing two degrees in psychology and journalism.

Giang has a radiant smile and confident appearance, so it’s hard to believe that she is sight impaired.

Giang was born with sight in only one eye. Age-related macular degeneration totally took away her light when she was a sixth-grader.

In contrast with her present confidence, Giang used to be a shy girl and did not dare to speak in public.

“I did not study well when I attended a secondary school for handicapped students like me. I barely knew anything about the outside world, having no dreams or plans for the future,” Giang recalls.

But a meeting with groups of volunteer students from two Hà Nội universities who visited her school totally changed her viewpoint on life.

Hearing them talk about the exciting university life and volunteer programmes like painting schools for children or helping villagers to dig the ditches, she realised that it was the life for her.

“It was hard but I made many friends and did many meaningful things that gave me a sense of happiness I had not experienced since I was small,” she said.

Giang decided to further her studies at high school before applying for a normal university where she could have more friends and break out of her shell. She successfully applied for the Thăng Long High School and became its only handicapped student.

“My friends thought I was under an illusion at the time. Fortunately, the principal accepted me and even made a commitment to the Faculty of Education and Training that he would be responsible for my studies, which really opened the door to a new life for me,” she recalled.

There were no braille books or devices for the blind at the school, so it became tremendously difficult for Giang, but her strong will to intergrate with other students provided the motivation for her to try harder.

She excelled during her three years in high school, and even won third prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with her creation of an audio device that is capable of counting money and recognising fake notes.

Her hard work earned her a place at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2014.

Giang said she had hoped to become a psychologist so she could offer advice to both handicapped children and their parents.

First sight-impaired Vietnamese MC

The opportunity to become an MC arrived when Giang was in grade 12, having been awarded the bronze medal at the Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities held in Incheon, South Korea in 2012.

After reading her memories of meeting international friends from around the world on the Thăng Long High School’s website, a reporter from Radio the Voice of Viet Nam (VOV) contacted her for the MC position. Giang’s emotive voice and confident manner persuaded him after two interviews.

“I think that the job has chosen me because I had never thought of becoming a reporter or an MC. It naturally came and fascinated me, motivating me to pursue it until now,” she said.

She worked with VOV for three years before moving to Viet Nam Television, where she still works. During that time, she won first prize at The Next MC 2016 competition.

“The job makes my life feel more meaningful. Being an MC for social or cultural programmes, I have to connect life stories with listeners in an inspiring way, and when I receive a positive response from the audience, I feel happy and motivated,” Giang said.

“Three years working with VOV helped me to hone my skills, particularly editorial work and flexible thinking, which means that I don’t need a script prepared beforehand for talk shows or live shows.”

Giang uses a smart phone or computer with script-reading software for most of her shows. Working in the studio, she wears earphones to listen to the director’s direction while also listening to the script read by the computer.

Giang is among the five finalists of the VTV Awards 2018 that honours remarkable programmes and figures who appear on Việt Nam Television. Photo courtesy of Lê Hương Giang

As an experienced MC now well-known to many Vietnamese viewers via several programmes like Cà Phê Sáng Với VTV3 (Morning Coffee with VTV3) and Người Phụ Nữ Hạnh Phúc (Happy Woman), Giang admits that she still feels nervous before going on air.

“The programmes and scripts are not difficult; it’s the pressure I put on myself. Being an MC demands good speaking ability, body language and appearance, which are the limitations for me,” Giang said.

“I’m very lucky to work with supportive and patient colleagues. I also think that they are quite venturesome on accepting me, a handicapped person, as part of their team.”

According to Giang, a good MC needs vast knowledge of various fields to host programmes on different topics. The more they study about the topics and the guests, the more interesting the shows become as the MC can exploit related issues that might interest the audience. That’s why she always studies before hosting her shows.

She has also applied to pursue her second degree in journalism at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities to improve her skills as an MC and reporter. 

Giang said that opportunities for handicapped MCs in Việt Nam are neither plenty nor rare, but they need to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to seize them.

This special MC has won the affection of viewers who nominated her among the five finalists of the recent VTV Awards 2018, a programme honouring remarkable programmes and figures who appear on Việt Nam Television.

Her life story has also inspired many others, particularly the handicapped, after being featured on the We Choice Awards 2018 programme in July.

“Giang always has a positive outlook and offers me advice to overcome my own difficulties. Giang has really helped me to change my life,” said Phùng Văn Minh, her close friend who is also sight impaired. “To me, she is both a friend and an endless inspiration.” VNS

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