AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN VIETNAM IN THE 50's
HIEN VAN HO
         "An ơi, trường học ví như người mẹ, người mẹ đã rứt con ở tay ta khi con nói chưa sõi để trả lại cho ta một đứa con khỏe mạnh, tử tế và siêng năng. Lạy Thượng đế giáng phúc cho người mẹ khoan từ ấy! Mai sau con nên người, con sẽ du lịch trong thế giới, con sẽ trông thấy những thị thành hoa lệ, những đài các nguy nga, nhưng con phải nhớ luôn luôn đến nếp nhà trắng tầm thường kia với cửa chớp khép, với vườn cây xanh, vì đấy là nơi bông hoa trí tuệ đầu tiên của con đã nẩy nở."

         "Enrico, your school is like a mother. She took you from my hands when you were still unable to speak fluently to give back to me now a healthy, kind and hard working son. May God bless that generous Mother! When you grow up, you will travel over the world, you will see resplendent cities, grandiose palaces, but you should always remember that ordinary white building, with its closed glass windows, its green yard, because that is where developed the first flowers of your intelligence."

         Edmondo de Amicis in "Cuore." (Tâm Hồn Cao Thượng, Vietnamese translation by Hà Mai Anh1)


1"Cuore" is an educational fiction by Italian author Edmondo De Amicis (1846-1908), under the form of a diary by a second grade school boy who relates the memorable events of his school year, things he learns from his teachers, his parents and his friends. There are letters that his parents write to him to make certain points about his behavior, when a written message is felt to have more impact than an oral one. For example, the father notices that his child goes to school reluctantly that morning. His letter then explains to his son the importance of education, reminds him that he is "a little soldier among the vast army of soldiers" around the world who are fighting ignorance, etc... He then exhorts him to more courage and hard work in his studies.
My father probably picked up from the book the habit of writing reminding letters to my brothers instead of talking to them face to face. Edmondo De Amicis' original Italian version was initially translated into French and became very popular in French schools under the title "Grands Coeurs". In Vietnamese it was "Tâm Hồn Cao Thượng" by Hà Mai Anh. Vietnamese writer and Aeronautics Professor Nguyễn Xuân Vinh called its Vietnamese version "the book that had the greatest influence" on his generation. The version that I received as an award on graduation, "Dưới Mái Học Đường" (Under the School Roof) was a "Vietnamized" adaptation of "Tam Hon Cao Thuong" by Bùi văn Bảng. "Cuore" is translated in English as "Cuore, the Heart of a Boy" (UNESCO Collection of Representative Works: European) and "Heart: A School-Boy Journal". Modern French version is "Le Livre Coeur" par Gilles Pécout (Edition Rue d'Ulm).
http://www.presses.ens.fr/cgi-bin/automaton2.pl?Automaton_State=PLUSINFO&Cat%0Da_Action=PlusInfo&PlusInfo=2-7288-0336-6#dedicace.
Accessed 01-07-2008
        Please read the rest of the story in THE SORROWS OF WAR AND PEACE.
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