Overcoming difficulties in every situation

Don’t Fall Down

In life, we often face difficulties and challenges. Guilt and fear can make us flinch. How can one get up after every fall and still have a positive attitude to overcome all obstacles? Many people have been able to do that with courageous and extraordinary faith, and consequently they are finding life meaningful and worth living again.

On November 10, 2013 the Student Office organized an event to interact with Nguyen Bich Lan, who has translated more than 20 famous works on overcoming difficulties, and another speaker, Ms. Tran Thi Quyen, a staff member at Hoa Sen Universty. These two speakers shared their experiences on how to overcome difficulties under insurmountable circumstances. Though Nguyen Bich Lan was unable to come from Hanoi to meet with the students and her fan for health reasons, however, she was still able to participate by Skype.

Nguyen Bich Lan was born in 1976 in Hung Ha, Thai Binh province. She fell down while riding her bike at the age of 13. As a result of the accident, the doctor found that she had an incurable muscular disease. The illness caused her to discontinue studying while she was in Grade 8. Bich Lan said, “as for me, after learning of the diagnosis from the doctor, I totally collapsed because I could no longer go to school. As a 13 year-old student who was good at literature, I suddenly had to ignore my dreams and ambitions, and running and jumping like other teenagers. While encountering such suffering I felt as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel. However, I was finally determined to try very hard to overcome the situation.

Bich Lan found her way out of this terrible situation by learning English on her own. She excelled in this second language without modern facilities and tools. After 10 years of study, she was able to become an English teacher and translate many works.

From the bottom of her heart she advised the students to overcome their difficulties and become useful citizens. Every difficulty has positive sides and should be used to transfer them into strength and willpower in order to overcome their challenges.

When suffering and feeling pessimistic, she thinks of family, siblings and loved ones, because they are the driving force for her and are always at her side to support her with all their love. Therefore, she tried to live her best by being happy and healthy. Her family and her loved ones did not have to worry too much for her.
Bich Lan confirmed that she never wanted to be a hero and have people honor her, she just wanted to be a hero to herself; that was enough. She said “when we have the will and energy, we can overcome all challenges and hardships. We live in a poor country where many problems cannot be solved, consequently, we have to learn how to overcome our difficulties in order to be successful in life.

According to Bich Lan, everyone grows up and matures. This is not just your own life but also the life of your family, friends, children, your loved ones, and other things that exist in and around our environment. We need to love and appreciate them all.

She further added “In life we must know how to arrange our priorities and  what comes next. We should be focused and highly determined. Our youth is precious and should be appreciated, and in our youth we should be able to make possible that which seems impossible.

Bich Lan was awarded by the Vietnam Writers Association for the translation of film “Slumdog Millionaire”. This surprised many people and they wondered why a disabled woman with so little education was able to translate such a famous film. She also received the Contemporary Woman Award along with Dr. Tran Thi Ngoc Phuong and surprised people even more. However, her life has not been that easy at all; she had to try to overcome more difficulties than ordinary people in order to succeed today’s world.

Through her heartfelt sharing, Dr. Bui Tran Phuong, President of Hoa Sen University expressed her emotions and admiration of Bich Lan. She said to her, “I have read the book ‘Daughters’, and as a person who specializes in Vietnamese history and women, I greatly admire the way in which you wrote it which is incredibly sharp. After becoming aware of your situation, I admire you more. I wish you good health and that you continue on being able to help more people".

Although Bich Lan’s health is not good, she still continued to enthusiastically answer questions through Skype from the audience who sent emails to her after the meeting. Each member of the audience raised an issue and Ms. Bui Tran Thuy, speaking for Bich Lan, represented her and read to audience. Ms. Thuy also read a thank you letter sent to Bich Lan by a student named Dang Anh Thu. The letter made the people at the meeting very emotional.

 Nguyen Bich Lan 

After that Nguyen Phi Cong, said thanks to Bich Lan on behalf of all students who received books from her. He expressed that youth like him have more energy, more determination to overcome all challenges and difficulties in the future after reading her book.

Another person in the audience, Ms. Cam Pho, who works for the Saigon Giai Phong newspaper expressed her emotions after hearing Bich Lan’s story. She said she has read much about Bich Lan on the Tuoitre news. However, this meeting with Bich Lan caused  Ms. Cam Pho to admire her even more.  Regardless of her serious illness, Bich Lan contributes so many positive things in life. Things in life that moves lucky people like us to treasure and appreciate life more than ever.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, a member of the library staff at HSU, also addressed her feelings. She said she has a sister who suffers an incurable illness and after she read the book “Don’t fall” by Bich Lan she could feel the pain of her sister who is pregnant. Huong has showed her empathy toward her sister and is willing to do anything to help her overcome her threatening illness.

Hoa Sen Smiling

Relative interaction with Ms. Tran Thi Quyen, the other seaker at the event, here was  another extraordinary example of someone who courageously overcame her fate. Quyen was born in 1975 in Quang Nam. Despite two crippled hands and both feet, she was ready to face prejudice and overcome the lack of commitment of the schools where she studied, hence she now works as normal people do.

She recounted the difficulties of her school experience as a student. Due to her disability, she was not able to have the opportunity for studying to obtain a higher education as her peers were. After three and one-half years of missing school, Quyen studied as a French major at the University of Social, Sciences, and Humanities with the thought that she would then go abroad to obtain artificial feet. After graduation, she thought it would be best for her to work at a school for the disabled because she thought that only people with disabilities would be able to understand her plight, the loss, the disadvantage, the pain, and the joy that she now has.

Following marriage in 2003, she went to work for Hoa Sen University. As a staff member she enjoys working everyday with students at the Student Office. She spends her time listening to their stories and sharing the many circumstances for her students.  There are those encountering financial difficulties and some who have issues with their families. Others are confused with their manner of studying and how to fulfill their learning workload.  She helps others have difficulties with their love affairs. They come to her because they feel she is a reliable person. Currently, she is a representative at the organization of Vietnam Les Enfants De la Deoxine and she also engages in charity work. In 2004, she was a member of the Vietnam Agent Orange Victim delegation that went to France to lobby for the Agent Orange victims in Vietnam.

Ms. Tran Thi Quyen

Quyen is a woman born disabled and brought up under miserable circumstances. However, she dared to dream of college and now lives a useful life. When thinking about Quyen, we think about an extraordinarily courageous person who always accepts her own shortcomings to rise up and become a useful citizen. Her smiling brings freshness and energy to people. Participants were very emotional when Bich Lan said, “Hoa Sen University is very lucky because Quyen is a living example for many students, staff, and faculty and they can learn from her without using board and chalk".

At the end of the event, a song named “De Gio Cuon Di” by Trinh Cong Son was sung. Every participant’s face and eyes were bright, happy and with high hope after meeting the two courageous people who overcame terrible hardships in their lives. The participants hoped that some day they will meet more people like Bich Lan and Quyen during upcoming events at Hoa Sen University. 


Cam Linh Huynh
Translated into English by Doan Thi Ngoc