Help­ing hand sees stu­dent shine

A chance en­counter at an in­ter­net cafe led Nguyeãn Huøng Laâm to de­velop a men­tor re­la­tion­ship with a poor eighth grade stu­dent whose true tal­ent was be­ing squan­dered by play­ing video games. With Laâm’s en­cour­age­ment, the young boy’s life saw a re­mark­able

Outlook - - PERSONAL - Told by Nguyeãn Huøng Laâm, re­ported by Löu Vaên Ñaït

Iwas a high-school stu­dent with medium achieve­ments. For­tu­nately, I passed the en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion and had an op­por­tu­nity to study at the HCM City Univer­sity of For­eign Trade. Af­ter see­ing the re­sults that I had at the univer­sity, I de­cided to re­ward my­self by play­ing on­line games at an in­ter­net cafe near my house.

As I stepped into the game par­lor, a world opened vividly in my eyes. Ad­dicts as well as street kids were be­ing im­mersed in the vir­tual world. An­noy­ing smoke per­me­ated the air and vul­gar curses filled the room.

Sud­denly, a lit­tle boy sit­ting next to me in­vited me to com­pete in a football match on­line. We en­joyed some matches and talked to­gether all the time. Un­like other guys here, he looked smart and be­haved po­litely.

Sadly, when­ever I went there, I saw the boy con­cen­trat­ing on the screen. It seemed to me that he had nowhere to go but the game shop. He, I be­lieved, should be­long to a bet­ter place.

Af­ter sev­eral talks to­gether, I dis­cov­ered that his name was Taâm. He was a hap­less child. His fa­ther died from an ill­ness when he was only in sec­ondary school; and he lived a des­ti­tute life with his mother in a shabby house where there was not even a de­cent desk on which to study.

Af­ter the death of his fa­ther, Taâm, as his mom told me, lost his op­ti­mism and be­came de­pressed. Even­tu­ally, he grad­u­ally be­came an at-risk stu­dent at school with poor marks, and he had to face a cloudy fu­ture. Why not share my hap­pi­ness with Taâm? So, I de­cided to be­come his men­tor. Dur­ing this pe­riod, I con­stantly re­minded him to bear in mind that knowl­edge was the only key that would lead to suc­cess if he wanted a happy life, not only for him­self but also for his beloved rel­a­tives. I took him to high schools for the gifted to in­spire his de­sire to strive.

Be­sides giv­ing him in­struc­tion in aca­demic lessons, I never for­got to tell Taâm about moral prin­ci­ples and mean­ing­ful fa­bles. This en­abled him to walk more strongly. I did not want to change only his knowl­edge, but also his mind.

I tried to in­spire Taâm by telling him about suc­cess­ful ex­am­ples of peo­ple, with the hope that he would try his best in study­ing. I told him that ed­u­ca­tion would bring him suc­cess. Since then, he has made enor­mous progress in his stud­ies at class, has be­come more ma­ture and, is liv­ing a bet­ter life.

I was glad when I helped to al­le­vi­ate his mis­for­tune, and felt cheer­ful when see­ing his achieve­ments. I was sat­is­fied about hav­ing done a good thing.

In­deed, as the say­ing goes, "In seek­ing hap­pi­ness for oth­ers, you find it your­self". And I found it.

There are al­ways peo­ple in this world like Taâm. There­fore, I re­minded my stu­dent to share the hap­pi­ness he had with oth­ers who needed help. Taâm shared all of what I told him with his class­mates and en­cour­aged other street kids in the neigh­bor­hood to change their lives.

Taâm's friends, who are also street chil­dren, wanted to join my class. All of them have a thirst to re­alise their dreams and change their lives. I de­cided to open a free class in Taâm's shabby house. The class was held for about one year.

Fi­nally, Taâm passed an ex­am­i­na­tion to en­ter the 10th grade at Nguyeãn Thaùi Bình High School. It was a big sur­prise to him and his mother. Both had never dreamed of ad­mis­sion to this school.

Some peo­ple ques­tioned me about what was mak­ing me do that. I replied that I felt moved to wit­ness their sit­u­a­tion. I wanted to be a per­son who man­aged to change the lives of kids who had less luck than me.

In ad­di­tion, Taâm and I vis­ited some schools in the area to col­lect old bags, sec­ond­hand learn­ing tools and used text­books. We blew a new spirit into the des­ti­tute chil­dren there. I was happy be­cause Taâm fi­nally knew how to bring his hap­pi­ness to oth­ers.

In­spir­ing Taâm and other kids helped me achieve the schol­ar­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties at 13 uni­ver­si­ties in the US and Fin­land. This is some­thing that I had never thought of. I chose Luther Col­lege in the US. I have de­cided to re­turn to Vieät Nam to teach af­ter grad­u­at­ing.

If we all knew how to share hap­pi­ness, we would absolutely re­ceive more.

"Heal the world. Make a bet­ter place for you and for me," as the song goes.

Nguyeãn Huøng Laâm re­ceives flow­ers at the Yola Cen­tre in Hoà Chí Minh City, where he stud­ied English. He later won a schol­ar­ship to the US.

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