Vietnamese teacher devotes to teaching in Lao mountainous area

Despite difficulties of working in Luang Namtha, a northern mountainous province of Laos, teacher Nguyen Thanh Ngoc devoted to helping poor students get an education, tightening Viet Nam-Laos friendship. The following is an interview with Vietnamese teacher in Laos.
Thầy giáo Nguyễn Thành Ngọc trên lớp học tại Lào.

Teacher Nguyen Thanh Ngoc and his students. (Photo:Vu An)

How was your recent New Year holiday in Laos?

Thanks to the chance of studying and teaching Vietnamese in Laos, I have experienced the traditional Lao New Year festival (Bunpimay) eight times with many different emotions.

Bunpimay is the biggest New Year holiday for Lao people, taking place every year from 14 to 16 April in the solar calendar.

On this holiday, there are many specific activities of Lao culture, such as tying the wrists with threads, praying for peace at pagodas, and splashing water. These ceremonies are performed to wish a good new year, good luck and good health to everyone.

However, traditional activities of the Lao New Year have been limited in recent years due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. People only celebrate the festival within a narrow scale of their families.

This year, while working in Luang Namtha province, I was invited by local families and teachers at the school to their home to celebrate the new year. The simple but cozy atmosphere immersed me in Lao culture.

You were assigned by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training to teach in Laos. What are the most difficulties you have to face amid the COVID-19 pandemic?

My teaching job has dealt with the most difficulties ever during the past two years. I had to go through COVID-19 tests, medical quarantine, and a nearly-2,000km route from Viet Nam to the school in Laos. Sometimes, the whole school had to close temporarily because one teacher or a student was infected with COVID-19.

Despite a very difficult year, with love and responsibility for their teaching career, Vietnamese teachers have made efforts to maintain classes for Lao students, tightening the friendship between Laos and Viet Nam.

What are your unforgettable experiences working in Lao mountainous areas?

Luang Namtha is a remote mountainous province in Laos, where I can interact with students as well as ethnic minorities of Laos such as Mu Xo people, A Kha people and Kho Mu people.

Also, I have got valuable experiences of living in a new culture, eating rice, working in fields, and teaching students new things which are experiences not easy to obtain in human life.

In particular, those experiences show me the difficulties of the students and local people. Therefore, I have called for charity donations, then received a lot of clothes, food, and nearly 200 million VND to give to students and poor families.

The days of living and working there made me feel the sincerity of Lao people. They shared with me not only vegetables, fish, and chickens, but also great love. All geographical and cultural distances seem to be removed.

Thầy Ngọc với hoạt động thiện nguyện giúp học sinh và người dân Lào.

Mr. Ngoc gives charity items to Lao students and people.

Can you share something about your current job? What motivations make you enthusiastic teaching Vietnamese in a foreign country?

I am honored to be a Vietnamese teacher assigned by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training to teach the Vietnamese language and culture in Laos. I am aware of and always try my best to fulfil the responsibility of tightening the Viet Nam-Laos solidarity and friendship.

Currently, I am assigned to teach eight classes in high school (including grades 11 and 12) and one class of district officials.

In addition, I would like to do more social activities by going to villages and schools in remote areas to give students clothes and school supplies. I also participate in people's daily life activities in order to integrate with them. These works bring me joy and youthful experience during years away from home.

Hopefully, my small contributions will help to build a stronger Viet Nam-Laos friendship!

Thank you very much!

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Translated by Minh Ngoc