Disabled teacher sows confidence and hope to other disabled

VietNamNet Bridge – As a child, Nguyen Thi Hai Yen of Dong Trieu Town in the northern province of Quang Ninh Province dreamed of becoming a teacher. A serious accident, in which Yen lost both legs, threatened to end that dream. She was 18 years old, full of confidence and hope for the future.


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Following her passion for teaching, 39-year-old Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, who lost her legs following an accident, opened free English classes for the disabled residents of Dong Trieu, in the northern province of Quang Ninh. 




The accident proved to be a challenge for Yen, and she was determined that it would not stop her. She would go on to inspire and encourage others to overcome similar fates. And eventually, after much sweat and tears, Yen managed to see her dream come true.

We visited one of Yen’s classes, and saw both students and teacher engrossed in a lesson. Yen was teaching English pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, illustrating points with her hands.

The students, aged between 25 to over 50, were all engaged in taking notes and practising the language. After class, Yen told us her life story, in her living room which doubles as a classroom.

When Yen was 18 she had an accident and lost her legs, making her dream of becoming a teacher seem impossible.

“Waking up in the hospital, I felt desperate, hopeless. I would have to stop my studies, and my ambitions seemed so far away. Many times I contemplated killing myself. But thinking of all the things my parents gave me, I chose to live,” she said.

Yen had to take a vocational training course but three years later she was determined to return to her studies and graduate from high school.

“Initially, I learned to sew and read a lot. But even three years later I still held onto the dream of becoming a teacher,” said Yen.

After a lot of effort, Yen passed the entrance exam and was admitted into Viet Nam National University’s English Studies Major.

“I chose English Studies because I had been passionate about English when I was in high school,” she said.

Yen was not only an exemplary student, but was also active in social work. Yen gathered other disadvantaged people to share difficulties and provide support.

Moved by the strong will of Yen, a man fell for her and defied disagreements from both of their families. They married in 2003, and moved to settle in the south of Viet Nam, eventually starting a family with one son and one daughter. At that time, Yen worked as an editor for travel magazines and newspapers.

Unfortunately, 10 years later, Yen and her husband divorced, and she brought her four-year-old son back to her hometown of Dong Trieu.

Seeing that there was no club or organization for the disabled in the locality, Yen founded the Dong Trieu Disabled Club. A year later, she opened the first free English class in her own house with the aim of improving local peoples’ communication skills, and developing their social networks. As word spread, the class grew, with more students attending and parents starting to send their kids.

She has taught about 800 students over the past 10 years.

Tran Thi Vinh, a student said “Attending class, I have the chance not only to acquire new knowledge but also make friends with other people in the same circumstances. We share life experiences as well as consult each other to overcome difficulties.”

“I can see that my communication has improved a lot since attending Yen’s class. I no longer feel inferior like before,” said Vinh.

Teacher Yen said that most of her students showed significant progress, and their English communication skills were getting better every day.

“Even now, I still dream of being a high school teacher, standing in front of the class and teaching English,” said Yen.

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