Born blind, Nguyen Minh Tri has tried his hardest in the past 20 years to achieve his dream, to be a student like others his age, and he has succeeded.
After 12 years of attending elementary, middle, and high school, Tri managed to get into the Department of Music Education at Saigon University at the age of 19.
This school year, he is a freshman there.
The difficult road to school
When Tri was born to a poor family in Tay Ninh Province, a neighbor of Ho Chi Minh City in southeastern Vietnam, his parents were overjoyed.
But shortly after the happy moment, doctors informed them that their son would live forever in darkness because he was blind from birth.
"He cannot even see lights," doctors said.
It took Tri's parents more than four years to accept the truth, after taking their son anywhere they said there were possible methods to save his sight.
Hoping to give Tri a chance to study, his parents chose to send their son to a center for the care of visually-impaired children in Tay Ninh since he was five years old.
Having to live far away from his parents at the age of five, Tri cried most afternoons. Fortunately, his sadness was alleviated by many friends and teachers who surrounded him.
In class, Tri showed his enthusiasm for Braille and calculations, which could only be imagined with great concentration. In addition, he was able to memorize the routes in the center so that he could gradually walk and do many things by himself.
He shared with his roommates the tasks such as cleaning the toilet and the bathroom, doing the laundry, tidying the common room, and arranging the bookshelves.
When Tri got out of bed, he went straight to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and dripped some cleaning liquid on the floor to clean it conveniently and skillfully. He not only has an excellent memory, but also a good pair of ears.
Tri knows history very well, especially the famous Battle of Bach Dang River, where Ngo Quyen made history with his victory.
Ngo Quyen (898 - 944) was a national hero associated with his glorious victory over the Southern Han Dynasty invasion at Bach Dang River in 938.
Ngo Quyen ascended the throne in the spring of 939.
"Of course, it is normal for me to trip over the table or platform when walking within the school. Once I walked into another wrong class, only when I heard the others laughing did I realize my mistake," Tri recalled, smiling awkwardly.
So many obstacles
While Tri is better at memorization, he has many difficulties with subjects related to math, especially geometry.
To keep up with the lessons, Tri relies on 'a special kind of textbook,' in addition to Braille textbooks for the visually impaired, friendship.
Thanh, a close friend of Tri's, has helped him greatly by recording the lectures and sending them to Tri after school.
Out of great gratitude for this help, Tri sometimes gives his friend a song he recorded himself or buys Thanh a candy bar.
Despite his blindness, Tri has always been a student with good academic results thanks to his determination and hard study during 12 years of the universal education program.
When Cao Thi Thu Thanh, in charge of the education program of the Center for Visually-Impaired Children in Tay Ninh, received the news that 'the handsome student' had received a place at Saigon University, she was incredibly happy.
However, she quickly became concerned about her student's difficult financial situation.
As Tri's teacher for many years, Thanh knows that his mother already suffered many complications from a stroke.
His mother has to visit the hospital frequently to treat brain atrophy and pleural effusion at the same time.
"Minh Tri has another younger sibling who is also studying. His father, who works as a driver for others, is the family breadwinner. The family circumstances are rather needy," said Thanh, adding that there will be many more challenges for her blind student as a freshman in the new school year.