My teacher

My childhood was associated with hardship and hardship. Then the teacher came.

Every four o'clock in the morning, I kept getting up and wandering from the ponds surrounding the graveyard near the house. There, the tombs lay silent among the luxuriant grass. Fear filled me. When the sun came up, I returned home, hurriedly ate breakfast, then tied a bunch of spinach to the back of a rattled bicycle and took advantage of the termite on my way to school.

After school, I hung my back with my parents and two brothers on the barren field. In the midst of my hard life, I wanted to change my fate, but always sadly thought that this was a dream. Those were my secondary school years in Bac Lieu - a small town at the end of the Mekong Delta.

When I met him, he had difficulty walking because one leg was muscular atrophy due to childhood illness. It is said that he just finished studying a foreign language university in Ho Chi Minh City and decided to come to this remote southern town to work. He teaches in-service university classes in Bac Lieu. In the evenings, he offers free English classes for poor children.

English? It is a luxury language that only the rich can access in private classes. The school I studied at that time did not have English teachers, but I knew that language was the key to opening the door to the world. And so, I hurriedly enrolled in his free English class.

It's amazing how he always starts the class with hilarious English songs. Guitar teacher, we sing passionately. The words of that unfamiliar language continued to seep into our young soul as naturally as the raindrops descended into a dry, cracked field. Sitting in his classroom, I was filled with the light of happiness and hope.

As a North Vietnamese who migrated to the South, I was used to being alienated and discriminated against. His class gave me the opportunity to talk to children from the South who were covered in mud, to understand what they and their families had to go through, and the profound reason why we in the North did not have many people from the North. Nam welcome. Then, as a matter of course, we make friends.

Once, visiting him in a rented small room, my friends and I lamented to see him preparing dinner: a small pot of rice, a plate of boiled spinach and a bowl of fish sauce. You are very poor, why are you giving up your opportunities to make good money in foreign languages ​​in Ho Chi Minh City to come here, in Bac Lieu "monkey ho hoi" with poor children falling to nosebleed? So we went home to talk to our parents, each asking for some money and bringing it to the classroom, putting it in an envelope, sneaking it into his bag.

The next class, he went to class, did not speak, did not smile. Each second passed heavily as if the clock hand was clung to a certain rock. Silently, the teacher suddenly announced the dismissal of the class because we "paid for his education". When we all burst into tears, he said, "Do you know that I teach them just because I know they are very poor but eager to learn?". He then took the envelope from his briefcase, handed it to us and told us to continue teaching only when we received all the money and promised him never to do so again.

One evening, the diving teacher came to my house and asked my parents to let me attend a special English training course for some gifted students. Before my parents could worry about the tuition, he said that we didn't have to pay any money. The only thing he wanted was that my family gave me enough time to learn English, because this subject was not included in the curriculum at school.

So I became one of the students fortunate to have his tutor. Not only equipped with knowledge, he also gives us confidence in people. In the late 1980s, when many people cheated on each other, stepped on each other to live, there were many people who were shocked, bankrupt, teachers were a solid fulcrum for us. He taught us personality, altruism, simplicity, humility, and the spirit of inquiry.

The work paid off: many students won national English prizes and got good jobs thanks to the teachers' foreign language. Some received prestigious scholarships like the Fulbright. As for me, the English that he equipped is the foundation for me to win a university scholarship of the Australian government in 1993. It was the old English class in that small town of Bac Lieu that made me receive The beauty of this language, then I became the author written in English, in parallel with Vietnamese. After a book of poems and a children's book was published in the US, in March next year, my novel of 50 years of Vietnamese history through the lives of four generations in a Vietnamese family will be a Prestigious publishers released in the US and Canada.

The teacher in the above story is Truong Van Anh - the one who blew in me the dream of changing fate, helping me understand the value of humanity. Over the years, the teacher has remained quietly and devotedly cultivating generations of students in every part of the country.

Currently Mr. Truong Van Anh is teaching at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Saigon University. He has made many important contributions to scientific research. He is also the author of many English teaching and learning books, which are widely printed and published by prestigious publishers. Oxford Publishing House (UK) has just invited him to collaborate to write English books for learners in Vietnam.

My gratitude to my old teacher, to all the teachers who have guided and inspired my soul, as well as teachers in all parts of the country.

Recently, negative things in education have helped me not to be bothered, but I believe there are still many teachers who are dedicated to students like my teachers. I hope the managers quickly eliminate problems in the industry so that the nobility of the teaching profession will not be clouded, hope that the society will support teachers to inspire and nurture the soul for the next generation.

Nguyen Phan Que Mai