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Students get enlightened under bodhi tree (Vietnam)

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Langues :

A buddhist monk in HCMCity offers free language classes to students who are anxious to learn a new language, Van Dat reports.

Buddhist monk Thich Nhuan Tam is happiest when he has to find one more chair because a new student has come to his foreign-language class and all the chairs are occupied.

The monk, head of the La (leaf) Pagoda in HCM City’s Go Vap District, was haunted by the fact that when he was younger, he did not have enough money to pay his school fees so he decided to open the class two months ago to provide free education.

Located in an alley on Quang Trung Street just next to his pagoda, the centre is always crowded with learners of all ages and from all backgrounds, many of them from houses and universities in the neighbourhood.

The monk said it was not very difficult to enrol students since many youngsters come to the pagoda every day to pray for health and luck.

Beside six teachers who have volunteered to teach, native speakers are often invited to help the students practise speaking foreign languages.

"Days when the centre has students, I don’t dare to leave the pagoda. I pull up a chair and sit near the class to take care of the students and teacher," he says.

The pagoda sometimes cooks noodle soup or pudding to serve the teachers and students because he is always afraid the students will quit.
"At private foreign language centres students pay a large sum of money and dare not quit classes, but since our class is free it is easy for them to drop out," he constantly tells teachers to urge them to make the lessons interesting.

Tam investigates the family background of each student and frequently communicates with them or their families. If students are absent for no apparent reason, he will call them up and tell them to come back soon.
But his worry might be misplaced since no one has dropped out so far.
A Buddhist monk’s happiness lies in seeing other people overcome poverty and earn a living by honest means, he explains.

"I enjoy studying in this class very much," Nguyen Thi Xuan Xanh, 21, a student at the HCM City College of Culture, says.

Xanh, who learnt about the school when accompanying her sister to the pagoda, explains: "The course provides me not only knowledge for my future job but also about human love, especially from Monk Thich Nhuan Tam.

"After meeting the monk, I feel dear to him.
"I am learning English but I will also study Chinese."

Ngo Thua Danh, 20, of Binh Dinh Province, a first-year student at the HCM City Food Industry University, says he has registered to study English and Chinese though he also learns English at his university.

Danh pedals half an hour every day to reach the centre. He feels the devoted teachers there make the lessons interesting.

Expansion plans

Pointing to a house next door, the monk says he will buy the house and build two more stories to expand the class. "While building [it], I will rent the opposite house so that my students’ studies are not interrupted."

When your correspondent visited the centre, many children had walked in from the neighbourhood after seeing foreign teachers that latecomers could not find chairs to sit.

The monk shows a new printer that will help the teachers and says he will buy a television set next.

Thich Nhuan Tam had nurtured the idea of opening such a centre for many years. One day he met Vo Xuan Phong, deputy director of the Century Biology Corporation, who too had nursed a similar idea for a long time, and the latter helped Tam set up the centre.

Phong has a similar story to the monk. He also suffered as a student due to poverty and wants to help younger generations now he has a good job.

Many others also provided help to set up the centre, and Tam agrees it would not have been possible to establish without their support.

Lam Quang My, an overseas Vietnamese poet from Holland donated VND100 million (US$5,000) to the pagoda after hearing about Tam’s aspiration.

The monk now has plans for a job-support programme to help students find employment after graduating and part-time jobs while still at school. Many students have also got jobs thanks to recommendations by the pagoda.

He also plans to organise cultural activities to raise money to assist disadvantaged people and to open a free drug rehabilitation centre in the central region.

"The projects will surely be successful as long as we have the heart," he says.

Source : http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn

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