Chores and children…

One day, a 7 years old girl was brought to my class by her mother. She didn’t join the class that day because she was too scared, cried a lot and even vomited as I knew. I told her mother that she shouldn’t force her to come into my class, perhaps she needed a little more time to calm down. After the class, I talked to the little girl. After some minutes answering my questions and listened to my stories, she told me that her teacher asked her to learn by heart every word and repeat them whenever she and her classmate practiced to write about anything. She was so tired of trying to remember what she had to write that she didn’t want to come to school. At home, her parents and grandparents didn’t let her help to do anything. She told me a secret:
– I wish I could wash the dishes but my mother has never let me do it.
– Really? Have you ever told her about that?
– Many times, but she told me that I am too small to do the dishes.
– Ok, what do you think you need to do the dishes?
It turned out to be a very interesting time for both of us. We shared about household chores, about school and friends. Finally, she told me that she would come back to try if she liked my class. I told her mother about her wish, we agreed that her mother would let her to clean the dishes after they had dinner. The little girl did not only take in to that class but also joined many activities that I and my colleagues prepared for children for the last years. Her mother was convinced to take part in a course for parents.


There were many things happened in 3 years. Now, if you have chance to meet my little friend, you will see a very cheerful girl, willing to be the MC for her class’s gala, volunteering to perform magic tricks in front of her classmates and their parents.

Last week, I saw her tidying up a room after preparing kimbap (Korean sushi) with her friend. She was really eager to take a broom and sweep the floor but she didn’t know how to do it. She came to me and asked if I could help her. Therefore, I showed her how to sweep the floor and we did together while chatting. She told me another secret:
– This is the first time I sweep the floor.
– Do you like it?
– Yes, I like it very much.
– You haven’t done it at home?
– No, my grandparents said that I should spend time on learning rather than sweeping floor.
– Do you want to sweep the floor?
– Yes, and I want to learn how to vacuum, too.
– So how will you do?
We had a long conversation about this subject. Next time I meet her, I’ll know what happened after our chat.

Now I wonder why nowadays many parents don’t let their children do household chores and complaint that their children depend on them too much that they don’t even how to do simple things. “When I were at your age, I were…”, parents usually start.



A poem that tells the truth

Đất nước mình ngộ quá phải không anh

Đất nước mình ngộ quá phải không anh?
Bốn ngàn tuổi mà dân không chịu lớn
Bốn ngàn tuổi mà vẫn còn bú mớm
Trước những bất công vẫn không biết kêu đòi…

Đất nước mình lạ quá phải không anh
Những chiếc bánh chưng vô cùng kì vĩ
Những dự án và tượng đài nghìn tỉ
Sinh mạng con người chỉ như cái móng tay…

Đất nước mình buồn quá phải không anh
Biển bạc, rừng xanh, cánh đồng lúa biếc
Rừng đã hết và biển thì đang chết
Những con thuyền nằm nhớ sóng khơi xa…

Đất nước mình thương quá phải không anh
Mỗi đứa trẻ sinh ra đã gánh nợ nần ông cha để lại
Di sản cho mai sau có gì để cháu con ta trang trải
Đứng trước năm châu mà không phải cúi đầu…

Đất nước mình rồi sẽ về đâu anh
Anh không biết em làm sao biết được
Câu hỏi gửi trời xanh, gửi người sau, người trước
Ai trả lời dùm đất nước sẽ về đâu…

 (Trần Thị Lam)


Isn’t our country strange, honey?
It’s 4000 years old, but its citizens haven’t grown up
It’s 4000 years old, but its citizens are still like babies
Not knowing how to stand up against injustices…

Isn’t our country strange, honey?
As they make gigantic bánh chưng (*)
and build projects and monuments costing billions upon billions,
a human life is not worth more than a finger nail…

Isn’t ours a sad country, honey?
Of our silvery seas, green forests, and lush paddies,
the forests are gone, the seas dead
with fishing boats idle on the beach, wistful for distant waves (**)…

Isn’t our country’s story so heart-wrenching, honey?
Each child born to this land is saddled with huge debts left by their forefathers;
what inheritance is in store for our posterity to pay them off
so they won’t have to kowtow in front of the five continents…

How will our country end up, honey?
And if you don’t know, then I don’t either.
Let’s send this question to the blue sky, to past and future generations.
Who can tell us what will become of our country…?

(Translated by Trần Ngọc Cư)

(*) Bánh chưng: square glutinous rice cake (filled with green bean paste and fat pork).
(**) An unprecedented massive fish die off in north Central Viet Nam in April 2016, allegedly caused by toxic elements dumped into the ocean by the Formosa steel plant in Ha Tinh Province, has affected millions of people in fishing, restaurant and tourist businesses.

It’s a sad poem which describes what’s going on here better than anything I could write.



Fairy Stream in Mui Ne


Fairy Stream –

Two week ago, my mom and I went to Mui Ne which is about 5 hours by bus from Ho Chi Minh city. Spending some days to enjoy colorful sand dunes, the beautiful beach and delicious food was the best way to pampering myself after a school year with my little students.


Many people come to Fairy Stream every day

I was guided to Fairy Stream on a sunny day. After climbing on White Sand Dunes, it was great to take off my shoes and feel the water running through my feet. At first, I was worried if my feet could get hurt when walking barefoot and soon I realized that there was no need to worry. The water was cool and ankle deep so I could enjoy it as much I wanted. It has orange color due to the combination of white and red sand dunes. Follow up the stream, I was impressed by the interesting sand pillars which I had thought they were made of limestone until I touched them.


Wind and water and sand give you this

They formed many different shapes which reminded me of some caves I’d seen. People said that you could hike the rock to see the whole area – it was remarkable. I like the tree on the banks of the stream, too. It was the first time I saw such big wild pineapple trees.


My mom under the some wild pineapple trees

Well, around our house at my hometown, I saw wild pineapple here and there, but they were only about my waist. Here, they made a perfect shadow for me to hide from the sun. I kept saying “Wow” when walking a long the stream. It was really amazing.


As it was really hot during summer here, many people brought bottle water or milk and perhaps some kinds of snacks with them. Having something to drink and eat while walking like this must be very pleasant. Sadly I saw many empty plastic bottles, cans and nylon bags around. There were no trash bins in this area. Here is what I collected on the way out:


If I had another bags, it would be fulled of trash for sure. The owner of a shop next to the entrance of Fairy Stream told me that he and others usually went to pick up trash that tourists left on the stream but they couldn’t collect all because people kept forgetting that they should take their trash with them. I told him that if my students visited this place, they wouldn’t only take their own trash but also willing to help him collect all the trash. He smiled when he heard that. I just wondered if the Fairy Stream is still there waiting for my 6 years students to grow up and visit.