Huynh Thi Thu, a retired teacher in Tinh Thoi Commune, Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, has been known as a good example of pursuing lifelong learning as she has obtained her third bachelor’s degree in Chinese language at the age of 70.
Thu is a former teacher of Cao Huu Lau Middle School in Cao Lanh City.
Besides the bachelor’s degree in Chinese language that Thu got in August this year, she has a university degree in Sino-Vietnamese pedagogy and another in English pedagogy.
Learning many languages
After graduating from Can Tho University in the namesake city in southern Vietnam in 1973, Thu worked in Can Tho’s neighbor, Vinh Long Province, with the intention of returning to Can Tho to obtain a bachelor’s degree in literature.
|The awards that Cao Lanh City authorities gave to Huynh Thi Thu, proving her lifelong learning efforts. Photo: Dang Tuyet / Tuoi Tre|
However, due to fluctuations at the time, she had to put her studying on hold after several months, leaving her dream half-done.
In 1990, she began to teach at Kim Hong School, which is now Kim Hong Middle School, in Dong Thap so that she could take care of her mother.
She obtained the English pedagogy bachelor’s degree at Dong Thap University in 1997.
She later moved to Pham Huu Lau Middle School and worked there until she retired. Due to her love for the teaching career and the learning journey, she has not got married.
“It was extremely difficult to go to school in the past. We had to roll up ao dai [Vietnamese traditional dress] and carry bicycles on our backs on muddy roads," Thu said.
“We had to register to buy newspapers at a library and get new knowledge from books only.
"Despite not getting married, I have a meaningful life by learning and teaching,”
Coming to lecture hall at 66
In 2007, Thu retired. Spending many years learning, teaching, and looking after her parents gives her moral support and helps her live optimistically.
She does exercise in a park with her friends every morning and later hangs about in her house with her nephews and nieces.
|Huynh Thi Thu can now use smartphones to read books online and look for information. Photo: Dang Tuyet / Tuoi Tre|
She lost her moral support after her parents passed away, so she wanted to return to the studying journey.
“In the early 2018 academic year, I saw Dong Thap University’s announcement on its enrollment plan for a part-time course. I registered for a Chinese language major," Thu said.
“The school did not hesitate but accepted my application immediately.”
After tens of years, she came back to school and studied with youngsters.
One of her teachers was her old student. However, the awkward atmosphere was cleared quickly.
“At the beginning, I bought the most updated Chinese dictionary and carried it to my class," Thu retold a memory of her first days at the university at the age of 66.
“Some other students told me that they rarely looked up words in printed dictionaries as it was time-consuming.
"They did the job on smartphones instead."
Following her classmates’ advice, Thu bought a smartphone to install social media apps, form online learning groups, look for information on the Internet, look up words in dictionaries, watch cai luong, a form of modern folk opera popular in southern Vietnam, and especially learn online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Huynh Thi Thu has received many certificates of merit from the People’s Committee of Cao Lanh City, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam for contributing to building a learning society. Photo: Dang Tuyet / Tuoi Tre|
“Studying helps satisfy my language research passion and integrate into the modern and progressive era," Thu said.
"Therefore, youngsters with favorable studying conditions should pursue a learning journey.
“I do not use laptops and smartphones well, so I will register for an computing course in the coming time."
On the occasion of honoring Cao Lanh as a learning city in the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, the People’s Committee of Cao Lanh City awarded Thu a certificate of merit for her contributions to the development of a learning society.