Vietnam Time

4/9/2018 3:17:10 PM

Chinese teacher’s marathon journey to collect items of Vietnamese students

Over the past decade, teacher Nguyen Trung Nguyen, Director of the Memorial House for Vietnamese Schools in Guilin, China, has traveled to every corner of Vietnam  collecting items to display at the Memorial House. Nguyen says Vietnam is his second home.

Teacher Nguyen Trung Nguyen has visited Vietnam numerous times to collect items related to Vietnamese students in Guilin.

Nguyen Trung Nguyen says he can’t remember how many times he has been to Vietnam. He has visited schools, libraries, museums, and private houses to collect items related to the first generation of Vietnamese students in Guilin in the 1950s-1960s.

“I’m always welcome in Vietnam. People treat me like a Vietnamese and I feel like a Vietnamese. Before a trip to Vietnam, I’m always as nervous as if I were returning to my homeland,” Nguyen told VOV.

Before the Memorial House for Vietnamese Schools in Guilin was inaugurated in 2010 to mark 60 years of Vietnam-China diplomatic ties, Nguyen had collected a great number of items and placed them in storage. Unfortunately, some domestic workers thought they were junk and threw them all away. It took Nguyen a week to recover most of the lost items from landfills and recyclers.

The Memorial House for Vietnamese Schools in Guilin has become a popular destination for Vietnamese and Chinese students.

Not all of Nguyen’s trips to Vietnam have been successful. Once he visited the owner of a cup used by Vietnamese students in Guilin but he didn’t dare to ask for it. Nguyen said that because the cup is preserved as a family treasure, he just took a picture of it.

 “It was not a failure but an unforgettable experience. I understand that the cup is valuable to them because it is a reminder of a special period in their life,” Nguyen said.       

Traveling back and forth between China and Vietnam, Nguyen has witnessed changes in Vietnam and in the relationship between the 2 peoples.

 “Vietnam has changed a lot, with improved infrastructure. Once I was in a great hurry and had a traffic accident. People took good care of me and only left when they were sure that I was OK,” Nguyen recalled.    

Nguyen and his colleagues have collected more than 1,000 items and photos of the Vietnamese schools in Guilin./.  

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