WHAT I LEARNED IN HCMC IN 2008
If it wasn’t for an invitation of a former learner of mine, I wouldn’t have been in HCMC making a new chapter of my life, as it wasn’t for my God mother’s advice , I wouldn’t have been in Kien Giang for 28 years .
It started early March 2008 even though I had been considering moving for several times in several years. After his few encouraging calls, I took a trip to see what I could do for him and other schools. Then I decided to leave home for a change, for challenging myself, for making my family better.
The first thing I found in HCMC was that the learners being able to speak rather well to be on their own paid for their lack of independence or spiritual strength to practice by themselves. The tuition of $100 a month was not cheap, neither was the time and transportation.
They made me believe that without someone pushing them up, they could not be up which I had done rather well in KG. Being there meant considering and exchanging what I had been doing in my hometown. No sooner had I realized how ignorant I was, I found something important for anyone that was,
“Don’t let them know how bad you feel about yourself and how much in need you are.”
The second thing I was taught was that they paid to learn so they asked for their freedom in learning and the value of the lessons. The learners supposed to get some time to practice speaking as they had wished to but some actually could not or due to the lack of listening practice for so long. They could not do it preferably and that resulted in unsatisfactory feedback. Did they have a right to pronounce wrongly to speak not rhythmically or did I have a right to correct them or let them hear or my speaking as a way to show them? Somehow, I felt good to be with some learners who either appreciated or criticized the way I taught.
The third stuff which I was given was friendship. The more I got from it, the more I appreciated the value of changing and learning. Gary- an American teacher- gave me many opportunities to be with him to see the world in such a way I had ever thought of before. What I learned from him was that I could not be rigid nor idealistic. We have got to give life some flexibility. At the same time, we had to control of the content because we don’t want ourselves to deviate from our doctrine or our philosophy. There must come a time when you talk to yourself,
“Am I not a human being meaning making error, having discipline matter and having a dream?”
My dream was as simple as many others’ are. I dreamt of having better income, further education and better friendship. Once I asked him a question which took him a little while to answer.
“Gary, what for you is the worst thing in life?”
“The worst thing in life is not being able to be happy”, replied Gary.
Well, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes. I didn’t feel proud of myself, neither did Gary. He and I always tried to make our lives a bit better and that has made us closer. We talked about everything especially about hope. We all hope, don’t we? We’d unconditionally like to have seen those whom we love feeling hopeful and happy. Life’s greatest tragedy is to lose hope or have no hope at all, isn’t it?
The fourth lesson life taught me was that we- human being could make a very simple mistake, a very stupid announcement, a very unreasonable action and a very remarkable wrong doing.
I made a few mistakes that I had never thought I would do them. Every person is born with a sinful nature. I blamed myself and I punished myself by forcing myself not to go out for a month. In my home town I encountered extraordinarily trying situations and had never made a stupid thing like anything of those. We reap what we sow and I lived my life that I wouldn’t be ashamed. I was particularly encouraged by the thought that I became innocent and soft-hearted as a young guy did in such a new environment.
The fifth point in my living there was that I couldn’t stand the loneliness as much as I thought. I discovered myself a lot as I could cry when telling someone about my Mom’s sickness or I could be very angry when arguing with my wife. Then I had a chance with a lady whom I found interested in me and as incredible scene as happening in a film I asked such a direct question and I won the person’s heart so quickly. Life is more complicated now than when your biggest decision of the day whether to play in sandbox or ride your bike.
The saddest thing about harboring an unforgiving spirit is that the person you hurt most is yourself. I knew that I never hurt my self and hurt anyone else so I helped this person to reveal, the truth revealed. There was a sense of urgency in our hearts and whoever could make it revealed conquered, to say the least, reached his or her full potential.
The sixth issue I could have learned was that there were a lot of “double-minded” people surrounding me or relating to me or taking my lessons. “Why did I say that?” was a question I often asked myself on too many occasions. Why is it so difficult to control our overactive mouths?
I taught myself to think twice before saying things or explaining things.
How to control our speech can change our lives.
The seventh valued thing I learned was that the first priority is family.
Even though my wife and I had argued many over a simple thing of moving or staying but the issue has remained unsolved. If it wasn’t for it, we would have divorced so quickly. I have seen such the number of films in which there was a complication of single parents but a simple reason of discomfort of breaking down family. And ours seems to be the simplest. I want to move to HCMC while my wife doesn’t want to. I take it as easy as while the whole society wants to consider it serious. My children could have forgiven me or blamed me but moving also means learning more and making the whole family better not my own.
The eighth stuff that I have learned deeply was that I could manage things as a young guy could do meaning I had my life re-generated. I could exercise and work hard as well as travel far to teach and do many different things which anyone at my age could not do the same. The high spirit of an Bao Loc Agriculture High school student may have helped me make it. My good habits of learning also helped me a lot. Life’s unpredictable events can’t prevent me from doing what I have been doing. I, of course, wonder what I face tomorrow but I don’t believe in fate. I alone will provide myself with the confident assurance that I could hold future in my own hand.
True peace doesn’t mean the absence of trials and hardship, but rather a sense of tranquility and serenity, even in the mist of the difficulties. I sometimes felt so peaceful after a well-taught lesson or well-translated document. I seem to have a young heart which is willing to embrace new ideas, make changes and adapt to new things. I also have a youthful approach to life including curiosity and passion, enthusiastic responses, optimistic viewpoints and enduring confidence.
The ninth figured out stuff I have found from me was that I reacted as quickly as a professional teacher did in such a difficult subject or matter. The way I solved problems, the way I replied, the way I decided something weird or dedicated have made me feel more stable than ever before. Losing things, forgetting things or not preparing things can cause people panic but me. I can ignore the stuffs as easily as a bad guy does his business and then I could also tell lies as naturally as I have not ever imagined.
The last but not least was that I could create as many as ideas of how to deal things. My creation comes so smoothly that I could present it as I had learned it by heart or had done it many times before. I don’t think what a person does for a living reflects who he is. There is a great sense of fairness in the way I did what I had never done in my entire life. One thing every man needs in this certain life is a source of unchanging, accurate wisdom. I believed living there has made me smarter and sometimes quieter because there is an outside chance you may not understand everything that happens and we can’t let what we can’t control destroy what we can enjoy, can we?
Maybe our lives are filled with impossible demands from everyone around us. Or perhaps we are exhausted from trying to cram 12 hours at work every day. We may even find ourselves crying out along with what we could have done.
I am trying to figure out what kind of man I am supposed to be, ain’t I?
Rach Gia, Jan 21, 09
Luong Ngoc Thanh
(Thanh Xi T.L 74)