“I was born into a family with a lot of hardships. My year-round life consists only of my parents working on the farm. Sometimes, because life was so cramped, dad would get drunk and smash things, beating my mother. There was a time he was about to spread gasoline and set my house on fire. Only mine and my sisters’ bookcases withered away. I am aware of my family’s misery, that my mother is struggling alone to support three children and her husband. But despite those difficulties, I still try my best when studying. Since childhood, I have been visually impaired and discriminated against by people around me. I have few friends and little contact with others… I tried but I could not see my future as there were only negative thoughts in my head.”
This is how Ro Cham Ling (Jrai ethnic group, Gia Lai province) describes herself and the difficult life of her family before following many other friends to join the A Brighter Path program. Although everyday Ling ponders about the future, the young girl has long been training her will with the hope that education will open a new future for her and her family. Ling’s eyes are not as sharp as a lot of peoples’, but her heart is so bright that it illuminates the path she is taking and helps develop her potential. To A Brighter Path team, Ling is a resilient, talented girl who loves life and appreciates the opportunities she has with this long-term scholarship project.
After the recent Dream Meeting, Ling sent us her sincere and pure thoughts about her 3-day experience of living and studying in Ho Chi Minh City with other A Brighter Path girls. Ling doesn’t have a computer yet, so she typed every word on the tiny keyboard of her phone. Though her writing might not be good, the editors hope to preserve the pure sentiments that Ling has put into this letter. Ling wrote that what she saw and heard inspired her to “one day, at a certain time, I will have my own feelings of being proud and ready for all. ” The VinaCapital Foundation (VCF) will certainly accompany Ling throughout this journey.
Tác giả: Rơ Châm Ling
Biên tập: Quỳnh Như và Minh Hằng
Thiết kế: HBlien Rahlan
The Dream Meeting started on the morning of July 13, 2019. The 11 friends from the Central region were no longer strangers to each other as we had spent time together since the 2 previous stages of the program and the night before talking and recalling the past year. But looming close, everyone was eager for the third stage: preparing for new lessons and experiences that were about to take place.
At 8:30 am on Friday, July 13, 2019, I and 10 others took off together with much excitement, awaiting new challenges. We know each other from the past 2 stages of Dream Meeting and talked a lot about each other’s past year.
In Tan Son Nhat, more than an hour later, we reunited with our long-distance friends. The fatigue after a long flight for Northern girls was replaced by fresh smiles and sweet and sincere greetings. We no longer had the clumsiness and confusion of the early days. After a long and distant year, one even joked, “We are like The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl!”. Our talking chirped throughout the drive to the hotel, we sat together at meals again to see each person radiate confidence, grace and dynamism. I unconsciously smiled because I was so happy.
The first destination of the journey was the War Remnants Museum. The artifacts, precious documentary images and history lessons that I had only seen in books before that were right in front of me. The more we understand the history of our country, the more we understand the traumatic effects of the war and the more we sympathize with the country and appreciate the moment we are living.
If the museum reminds me of the loss of war, then the Independence Palace gives me a sense of pride. Each of the Palace’s living and working rooms helped me understand that the country was united in this space. I think society is multi-dimensional and is a combination of emotions. In one afternoon, we went from sympathy, love, and gratitude to relating to our older generation, to the sense of pride that they and we, despite differences, are Vietnamese people. Together, we join hands to protect Vietnam’s sovereignty, stance, and culture.
It is not a real Saigon experience without a bit of wandering! Dinner with chicken rice and a glass of cool iced tea is delicious. Eat it… then go on. Under the bright lights of Nguyen Hue Walking Street and Ben Thanh night market, we were given a challenge. Each of us had a pen and paper in hand, get ready!
Did you know that after 11 years of school and 7 years of learning English, I don’t think I have ever had as much fun with English as I did that night. The challenge was to exchange and record visitors’ feelings about Ho Chi Minh City. Of course, we probably babbled words, there was no elaborate grammar, merely a few words with awkward gestures, but the tourists were always kind to chat and also took pictures with us. Later in the evening, we rehearsed together for the Gala night. Everyone was exhausted, while I recalled the experiences, finding life meaningful and myself lucky to be in a united community.
The second day was filled with study sessions. The first workshop was on “Gender education – reproductive health for young women” with Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong. Then we listened to a talk about building confidence in public speaking and leadership skills from Ms. Betty Tran and Ms. Anh Thu – also one of the students funded by VCF, and Ms. Thao Le.
We continued to try our best with self-introduction in English with the guidance of VCF volunteers. Then we started first-aid practice throughout the afternoon to be able to help ourselves and others in times of need. But nothing was more memorable than when all 50 girls were honored to become members of the For Loving Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Club. Seeing the documentaries about the sea and islands of my homeland, my heart was burning with excitement as I felt so much appreciation for my homeland’s sea.
The fuzzy and blissful feelings lasted through Gala’s evening. We wore our traditional costumes, each a brilliant color. I felt proud of myself as a child of Jrai and a child of Vietnamese soil. Standing in front of 49 friends from across the country, I introduced myself and I had never felt so much of Vietnam’s beauty. There, right in the colorful hall, each one was a messenger, a heart span connecting all over the country. We were made of the most quintessential things: our language, customs, and different cultures… but shared the same love towards our country.
I looked forward to the last activities the most because they were the places we set our sights on the universities. We were divided into 3 groups to 3 schools, each with a passion. I chose the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, where I had been planting every single seed of hope to get to. To have the chance to listen to and directly exchange questions with students and teachers and look at the school and its history made me more determined with my passion.
The three days ended, and it was time I went home. Getting into the car, looking back at the journey I had experienced quietly in the hustle and bustle of the city, suddenly I was surprised to find out how hurried I was before I could clearly see the city I wanted to visit and study after one more year.
I regretted most that I was not able to thank the uncles, brothers, and sisters of the VinaCapital Foundation and Vu A Dinh Scholarship Foundation, and the sponsors for helping 50 of us female students to fulfill our dreams. The past 3 days, all activities had been prepared so carefully and detailed that we could learn the most in the shortest time with meaningful outdoor activities, insightful sharing sessions…
The Dream Meeting is to nurture dreams, but first of all to learn from real life and cultivate each person’s energy and passion. It is true that when Ms. Anh Thu shared “strength, passion, and effort will bring you to your goal”, and Ms. Betty said, “every little thing has a gift for you, collect it, for they are simply diamonds on the shirt that you will wear.” And the most favored is Ms. Thao Le’s words, “circumstances are not the biggest difficulties, let’s set the situation as a stepping stone for your leap!”
Then all the inspiration and motivation to reassert the future and the person I will become exploded in the moment Uncle Rad gave me his business card. Perhaps I did not fully grasp its meaning, but I could feel the emotion on his face when recalling the time he had his first card put in his hand when he was 27 years old. I thought to myself, there will be a day, a certain moment I will have such feelings of my own being proud and ready for all.
As the days passed, a journey temporarily closed, and its aftermath lingered in my heart and became motivation. Each of us is determined by the echoes in the depths of our hearts: maybe someone will think that we struggle to have a voice, in our living situation, and in our backgrounds, but that is also our motivation to overcome challenges, which we clearly stated: “We’re ready”.
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