For normal people, passing a university admission exam is a big challenge. For Tran Ai Van, a 12th-grader at Gia Dinh High School in Ho Chi Minh City, the challenge is even greater, as she can only write with her mouth.
But the tough girl, who can hardly move her legs or hands as a result of muscle atrophy, has never stopped striving for a place in college.
A dedicated mother
Standing by Van for the last 18 years, Tran Thi Thanh Huong, her mother, has done many different jobs to earn money to support Van’s education.
Huong, 37, once worked as a hotel waitress and an interpreter before renting a house near her daughter’s school to sell milky tea just to earn a meager living for both of them.
She is now unemployed and is thinking of becoming a taxi driver to back Van’s college dream.
"Sometimes I feel so exhausted that I want to take my own life, but the thought that nobody would then care for Van has given me more motivation and energy to continue trying,” Huong said.
Van has maintained an impressive academic performance since elementary school even though she has been confined to a wheelchair the whole time.
As a child Van wished to one day become a doctor, since had to frequently visit the doctor back then, but the little schoolgirl had to abandon the dream once she became more aware of her physical condition.
High self-esteem did not allow Van to accept her teacher’s petition to the central education authorities for an automatic college seat for her, for she wants to get over the admission testing barrier just like any other peer.
The student has applied to a law college, but still dreams of getting a PhD in biochemistry in the long run.
"I strongly believe that there is always light at the end of the tunnel,” Van said.
Van began taking her college admission tests, Vietnam’s method to enroll students at the university level, on Wednesday.
Van’s mother carries her to an exam room for registration formalities on Tuesday. Over 800,000 students finished registering for the national university admission exam that day.
Her mother gives Van a snack before registration.
Van is pictured talking to one college candidate outside an exam room on Tuesday.
Van is waiting to fill out the required forms.