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​Hitting the books: Vietnam’s senior citizens refuse to let age block their path to knowledge

​Hitting the books: Vietnam’s senior citizens refuse to let age block their path to knowledge

Saturday, June 23, 2018, 07:14 GMT+7

An 85-year-old man in the central province of Quang Nam is refusing to let old age get in the way of his never-ending thirst for knowledge, proving that passion by earning an MBA earlier this month.

The ranks of senior citizens dedicated to continuing their education are not a tiny minority. 

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper had no problem finding dozens more at the Ho Chi Minh City General Sciences Library.

Learning wipes out hunger

Tu Trung Chanh, 77, spends his days at the library, accompanied by nearly about 50 notebooks he’s completely filled; so old the pages have begun to yellow. 

Each page is covered in new vocabulary, word families, and information on topics ranging from health and education to military studies, all of which have been written in English.

The pages are all treasures cherished by Chanh, a lifelong learner who has pursued a mastery of the English language since his high school years.

“If I consult the word ‘cook’, I can learn about phrases such as ‘cook something up’ and ‘cook the books’, as well as their Vietnamese equivalents,” Chanh told Tuoi Tre.

The septuagenarian is willing to share how he conquers the English language.

“I have been learning English for decades,” he said, “but I’m having troubles remembering new words lately.  Now I have to rewrite a word several times before it sticks in my mind.”

To the 77-year-old, learning “wipes out hunger, sadness, and misfortune.”

“I can’t go a day without learning,” he added.

Tu Trung Chanh talks about his mastering of the English language. Video: Tuoi Tre

Three BA’s degrees by the age of 60

Fifty-eight-year-old Pham Thi Mang is another regular at the library.  Like Chanh, Mang keeps a dictionary at her side, but hers is in French.

“I fell head over heels for the French language,” the woman said.

Mang said she’s thrown herself completely into university life since her retirement in 2015.

“My family members wholeheartedly support my choice,” she said.

“As I am retired now, I can devote myself to academia.”

Pham Thi Mang reads a French book in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Pham Thi Mang reads a French book in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Compared to her 20-something classmates, she can’t use the computer very well, so digital dictionaries are her last resort.

“I am a keen member of this library,” she smiled.

Although being the oldest student, Mang has never received an F nor missed any classes.

She plans to receive her third bachelor’s degree by 2019.

She also expressed her desire to pursue a higher degree in French in order to master what she calls “the world’s most romantic language”.

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Kieu Nga / Tuoi Tre News Contributor


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