Blind girl’s efforts to follow university dream comes true - 19 July 2012 - ENGLISH - 4 -STUDY BY MR. DANG THANH TAM
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Main » 2012 » Tháng 7 » 19 » Blind girl’s efforts to follow university dream comes true
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Blind girl’s efforts to follow university dream comes true
Learning to read and write, even in the mother tongue, is never an easy task for the blind. When it comes to studying a foreign language, the difficulties increase exponentially.

Nguyen Thi Men, a blind Vietnamese girl, will surprise many people when they learn that she is a senior at the Faculty of English Linguistics and Literature (EF), University of Social Sciences and Humanities HCMC (USSH). Although life has never been easy for her, Men has always tried hard to make her university dream come true.

Sad memories

Men was left at the Thi Nghe Center for Orphans and Disabled Children by her mother at the age of eight years old. When she was 14, she was sent to the Blind Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HBA) to learn braille. Men studied well and was moved to a public secondary high school to learn with non-blind friends. Then she spent three years studying at Chu Van An high school.

During the hours off of school, Men sold lottery tickets to earn money for books and her living expenses. Every day, with a cane, a small rain coat and a bottle of water, Men took the bus from the Blind Association in District 1 to other districts to sell the tickets.

When Men began this work, she often got lost on unfamiliar roads. Once she broke her leg in a crash and was sent to the hospital by kind passengers. Like other street lottery sellers, the little girl got used to huddling under the eaves on rainy days and walking under the burning sun to earn a little money. Many times she was robbed of all the lottery tickets and could do nothing but cry.

First taste of failure

Despite many difficulties, Men always tried hard in her studying. However, the high school graduation exam was a real obstacle for her. The first time she took it Men failed the exam, surprising her teacher because she was always a good and hard-working student. Men took the exam again and again, but she still could not pass it.

The sixth time Men failed, she was so discouraged that she thought she had no choice but to be a street lottery ticket seller for her whole life.

Moved by Men’s fondness of learning, her teachers gathered the transcriptions of her grades and sent a request to higher administration so that Men could be exempt from taking the exam. Due to her good study results and her efforts in taking the exam many times, Men got the exemption to graduate from high school.

Realizing the university dream

As soon as Men applied for the In-service Bachelor Program at EF of USSH, she knew that this aim was beyond her ability. She began to train hard for the university entrance exam.
When Men registered for a revision course at Bui Thi Xuan high school, the kind-hearted principle allowed Men to take the course for free.

The course wasn’t designed for blind people, so there was no book in braille. With some books given by the English teacher of the course, Men returned to HBA and used all of her savings to buy a tape recorder. Then she entreated Nguyet, her orientation and mobility training teacher, to read all the lessons in the books for her to record. Since Nguyet cannot speak English, she had to spell every English word in Vietnamese.

Every night, Men received the tape recorder, listened to each small part and patiently converted it into braille. Despite the sleepiness, Men had to finish her lesson and delete the tape so that Nguyet could continue recording the next lesson the following morning.

After studying very hard from February to June, 2009, Men was ready for the entrance exam. Days before the examination, she was informed that braille was not allowed and she had to do the test on a laptop like other students.

The news worried Men terribly. She was afraid that she could not get used to a laptop keyboard in such a short time. She phoned Father Bao Loc, a benevolent priest, to ask for help. Father Bao Loc managed to borrow a laptop form his friend. No sooner had Men had the software for the blind installed on the laptop than the exam came.

Moving forward, with love

There were only four people in Men’s examination room, two supervisors and two special examinees. When the supervisor read the exam for the two examines to type, Men type nervously and made a lot of mistakes in the first twenty minutes. The laptop caused serious trouble for her. In that moment, Men thought that she would fail the exam. She was obsessed with failing other examinations before.

Then she thought about the hard times she had gone through, as well as her loved ones. She thought of Hung, a motorbike taxi driver who has taken her to school for years at a friendly price, only VND 20,000 (about 1USD) per week. She remembered her teachers at Chu Van An high school, who tried their best to help her get the exemption to graduate from high school.

She was also grateful to Nguyet for helping her convert the English lessons into braille. She remembered when Father Bao Loc called her that very morning. He was afraid that Men would only have a bowl of noodles or a load of bread for lunch, as usual, and told her to have lunch at his house. Men was deeply indebted to those people and wanted to do well in the exam to redeem their love.

Men tried to calm down and asked for the time. More than two- thirds of the time was left. Men sighed with relief and continued typing deliberately.

She got 17.5 (out of 30) and was admitted into the K18 Class (2009-2012) of the in-service Bachelor Program at EF of USSH. Although Men still has to sell lottery tickets during the day time and attend class in the evening, she always has good results in her study.

In this last year at university, Men wants to spend more time studying. She has learned to thread beads to make bracelets and key chains. Every day, apart from books, Men comes to class with those hand-made things and earns some money by selling them to her classmates.
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