I started studying English at Thang Long School in the 8th grade. At that time my mother knew about the School’s free English class for disadvantaged children and applied for me to study here. Then, my parents were separated and I was living with my mother at her parents’ place. Because my uncles and aunts had little income, they could not help my mother and me much. Hence, my mother had to take care of herself by working hard jobs such as selling ‘banh mi’, selling lottery tickets, cleaning houses, etc to support me. My mother had heart disease and arthritis and had to go to the hospital often. My father worked as an assistant driver travelling on long routes. Every 2 or 3 months, he came back to give me and my mother a few hundred thousand to help with my studies and with our daily expenses. I did not have the opportunity to study outside of school as much as my peers, hence I was very glad to know that there were free English classes being offered at Thang Long School. Indeed, Thang Long School allowed my dreams to flourish.
At Thang Long School, I not only studied English but also received help from teachers such as Ms. Oanh the headmistress, Ms. Cuc, etc. Throughout my time of study, the School supported me with 50,000 per month scholarship. On special occasions such as Tet and Mid – Autumn Festival, me and my friends were given cooking oil, rice, mooncake, etc. The teachers also organized social activities such as lantern carrying and singing which was really fun.
My English lessons at Thang Long School lasted from grade 8 to grade 11. During that period of time, the School gave me the opportunity to study more English at the British Council (grade 8) and ACET (grade 12). However, because I was studying hard at ACET and at high school, I stopped my English lessons at Thang Long School.
One thing that I really regretted after I stopped studying at Thang Long School was that I did not have as much opportunity as before to go to the school’s library to borrow books. The School has English books from elementary to intermediate level, which helped students a lot in practicing to read, getting accustomed to using words and learning new vocabulary.
Studying English at Thang Long School was an important turning – point for me. Before I knew about the School, I primarily studied English at my high school and only did exercises on grammar and vocabulary. Thanks to the School, I had more opportunities to speak English. Out of all the teachers that have taught me at Thang Long School, I found Ms. Thuy to be the most memorable and interesting. Ms. Thuy had a creative way of teaching by having her students perform plays, write prose and poems, hence creating more opportunities for students to practice their English and use different vocabulary. Thanks to Ms. Thuy’s instruction, I became more and more confident in speaking English. Moreover, studying at the British Council and at ACET also helped me improve my English. At these centers, I was able to study and speak English with native speakers, hence more opportunity to perfect my English skills.
When I graduated from high school and got accepted into university, it was Thang Long School that introduced me to Saigonchildren’s Child Development Program. Thanks to that program, I was offered a scholarship for all 4 years of university. Apart from tuition, I also got training in the necessary soft skills for studying, for working and opportunities to volunteer for Saigonchildren.
1 year after my graduation from university, I was offered a position to work at Saigonchildren and have been there until now. Currently, I am working for the Child Development Program. I am very glad that I am working in the field that I studied and am proud that I am collaborating with my colleagues at Saigonchildren and teachers at Thang Long School to help disadvantaged children like me before. With the English and the soft skills learned at Thang Long school along with my volunteering experience at Saigonchildren, my job now is relatively stable
I would like to thank the teachers at Thang Long School because they were the ones to place the first bricks for me to build my life on. I wish them good health and happiness so that other children will have the opportunitiy I did to be independent in life.