Sometimes I wonder… if my father didn’t take me to the English class at night after his heavy working day… where would I be today?

The picture of my father sitting quietly on his motorbike and waiting for me on the street, outside of my English class in the middle of the winter, is still very clear in my mind.

My parents had very different perspectives compared to their neighbours, their extended families, and their relatives. For instance, many of my neighbours in the village those days would think that investing in a daughter would be a waste of time and money. Because people thought the daughter is the daughter of another family after they got married.

However, my parents told me and my two brothers that they could not give us anything else apart from our education, which was very expensive for them. They said as long as we wanted to study, they would do everything to support us (paying for our school fees and supporting us in any way they could).

Mum and Dad believed that education was the way to get out of poverty. For them, there was no difference between boys and girls.

Mum and Dad are making ‘Banh Chung’ and ‘Banh Dai’ cake – Vietnamese Traditional cakes for the new year.

My passion of learning English started

I had no idea about learning or speaking English in my early years at school. In my memory, the first time I knew something about English was when our family watched a TV series called ‘Little House on The Prairie’ – An American TV series. It was probably the time when I fell in love with the English language.

Mother and Daughter time – Mum was cooking and I was helping Mum to eat the food 😁

Nevertheless, I did not start learning English until I was in my senior high school (year 10). I loved the sounds and the rhythms straight away. I decided to pick English as my core unit in high school. My parents had no idea about English, but they supported me in any way they could.

My passion came at my parents’ cost

There were 14 classes in my school year but only two classes studied English as an additional language – the other 12 classes studied French. As the result, our school did not have a core class for English. This meant when I decided to study English, I would have to do extra classes outside school and school time.

The English tutorial class was at night, and it was held about 10km away from my village. This was a big deal for me and my family as it would have been too dangerous for me to ride my bicycle alone at night on the highway. My parents would never let me do it.

Father and Daughter time- Dad was finishing while I was eating his snack 😁

As I said, my parents were very different from other people. They invested in their daughter’s education and they wanted to give their daughter a different future. They did everything they could so their daughter could have her dream. So, they committed to do it.  They paid for the expensive class, and they took me to the class three nights a week for three years.

My parents were farmers. My father also helped with his tractor on construction projects around our village and our district. Both of them had to work hard physically during the day. However, three nights a week, Dad drove me to the English class on his motorbike and waited outside for nearly three hours. While Mum looked after my two brothers and got dinner ready for Dad and me.

I could not remember that I was absent from any of those English classes during my high school years. As Mum and Dad made sure they would do everything so I could be in the class. Some nights, Dad’s tractor broke down, he stayed and guarded the tractor on the roadside, and they would have to ask my cousin to take me instead.

I had never felt thankful or grateful for their efforts and sacrifices because at that time I thought that was my parents’ duty. However, when I was a grown-up and I became a mother, I understood it was my parents’ choice to give me a chance.

They could have made the same choice as many of my neighbours. When I finished secondary school or high school, I could have just worked in a factory and got married.

However, they made a different choice, they gave me a chance to learn English, to have a good education, and to finish my university studies.

That’s why I always say, “I am a lucky person” – not only now but ever since I was born, I have always had amazing parents.