It has been 10 years since saigonchildren met Minh Phuong – at that time, he was a timid boy coming to Thang Long School with his mom to register a course there.
Phuong is currently working as a Digital Imager at The Color Club. When we met him recently, we were so surprised to see a mature man and even almost burst into tears listening to Phuong tell us about his life, passion and what he has achieved so far.
Hi Phuong, as I know, you joined the Photography Course at Thang Long School – Saigonchildren and now you are working as a Digital Imager. When did you find your passion for this field?
Since childhood, I have always loved writing and taking photos, but due to difficult family circumstances, I was unable to pursue my passion but I still kept my dream.
Could you share more about the opportunity and the motivation that drive you to pursue this career path?
Actually, after looking back at the last 10 years, I thought what happened is both bad luck and a good opportunity. At 15 years old, I could no longer go to school like my peers. Standing in front of a precarious life as a kid, with insufficient knowledge, I no longer had direction for my life and felt so lost. Fortunately, a customer at my mother’s nail shop introduced her to saigonchildren and Thang Long School, a free school offering English courses and Vocational training for disadvantaged youth. The following day, my mother and I went to apply to Thang Long, and I was admitted soon after. I studied photography and English for a year and a half, where I learned a lot of useful knowledge and practical skills that could be applied to my job.
I think the photography class of saigonchildren set the first brick for my career path and Mr. Dung – my teacher was the first one that motivated me to pursue my passion.
During the time you studied at Thang Long School, are there any moments that impressed you that you even remember now?
I have to say that there are too many memorable moments, It would take all day to tell you them. But one of the most valuable experiences was the field trip with my classmates. Photography class had more opportunities to go on field trips than other classes. We were all equipped with cameras to practice the knowledge that we learnt at school. We had chances to listen to local people, to capture their daily work and to learn about their lives. These trips motivated us a lot, we know that we are in difficult circumstances but we are still lucky to go to school, to study what we love to, to meet enthusiastic and kind teachers and friends who are willing to help at any time.
Minh Phuong (the first from the right) and his friends in a workshop hosted by saigonchildren and The Color Club
After the course at Thang Long School, which opportunity brought you to The Color Club and engaged with the company till now?
After a period of studying and training, I was introduced as a student to The Color Club and I also acquired more skills such as Photoshop, Illustrate and video editing. No matter how challenging life became or how difficult the courses were, I always tried my best to fulfill my dreams. After this program, I joined the recruiting competition of the company, equal to other candidates. And I’ve now become a permanent staff member specializing in digital image editing for the last three years.
Minh Phuong at his work place
It has been almost 10 years till now, looking back at the journey, what would make you proud and what you would like to share with the readers of saigonchildren?
I think I have not achieved any considerable success in life to share as a quote or a lesson for others. But I just feel so grateful that I was lost at times, and then was supported to overcome these difficulties. Now I have a decent job that I love. That’s the luckiest thing happened in my life till now. I am trying to open my own studio in the near future.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the teachers at Thang Long School and saigonchildren’s staff for helping me open the door to change my life in a positive way after I had lost direction after dropping out of high school. I will always remember Mr. Peter’s interesting English lessons, Mr. Dung’s photography class, Mr. Long in the media workshop and all the volunteers and teachers who helped me and my friends along the way. I hope that both the Thang Long School and saigonchildren will continue to grow and help the kids going through a difficult time, like I had, to go to school and pursue their dreams.
Thanks Phuong! I hope you will achieve even more in your career and always bring positivity to others.