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Introducing our Librarian and Resident Author

Truc Nguyen is our beloved librarian here at BVIS. She is a dedicated member of the Vietnamese and international community. And… she is now a published author.

Thanks to the help of her daughters, Nha and Lam, we have the pleasure of introducing her to you.

Ms Truc went to Simmons College in Boston, USA. She has a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science.

She has worked for “Room to Read” and has spent countless hours raising the profile of reading and literature in Vietnam.

She was awarded the prize of ‘Most Dedication to School Libraries in Developing Countries’ in 2011, but she didn’t actually receive her award until August 2015, when she flew to the Netherlands and joined a conference to receive her well-deserved prize.

Ms Truc decided that she wanted to become a librarian when her first daughter, Lam, was more than 1 year old. She was offered a scholarship to study, however, she decided to reserve it for a few months. Unfortunately, during that time, she became pregnant with her second daughter, Nhã, so she had to reserve it for a few more months and, when Nhã was nearly 1 year old, the school contacted her and said she had to go then because the scholarship was only available until 2003. She was utterly confused and didn’t know what to do; that was when her mentor stepped in and advised her to do the right thing. So with her elder daughter aged 2 and her younger aged 12 months, in 2001, she left Vietnam for Simmons College, USA. She did return after her studies and became an absolutely wonderful mother in 2003.

After joining BVIS, she began to feel rather critical about children’s books. Based on her experience from her last job, and years of training back in the USA, she felt the books here in Vietnam weren’t good enough. That’s when she decided to write her own books, starting in 2012.

At first, she didn’t want anyone to know about her books. She saved the files onto her laptop and hid them away. She was afraid no one could be the illustrator she wanted, or could turn her ideas into pictures – her demand for perfection was as high as ever. However, in January 2015, she decided to reveal her books to a friend at Tre Publishing House. Ten months later, six of her books were published.

One of Ms Truc’s inspirations comes from her career-long work with children. The innocence in their eyes when they say, “I love the library,” inspires her most of all. She feels the utmost satisfaction, and pride, as well as pleasure rushing through her veins whenever a child points out a tiny, yet vital, detail in a picture of a book. She describes it as sheer euphoria to spend time searching for a book and reading it to them, seeing the look on their faces. Children naturally express themselves and can grow to love books, so she says it is a tremendous honour to be able to help them.

Lam and Nha write about their mother

Click here to read in Vietnamese | Bấm vào đây để đọc bằng tiếng Việt 

The writer sits at her desk. It’s a mess. Porcelain mugs, clammy with condensation, piled together like a haphazard construction site; coffee stains damping through the fine oak; uncapped markers dripping blood onto the surface; stacks of paper fluttering about, straining to escape the monotony. Her gaze fixes onto the laptop screen, willing it to give up its secret; the blank page stares back, all smug patience and pompous arrogance, daring her to outwit it.

The writer straightens, glances at the clock. A whole decade – like hour, and still nothing. She sighs, grabs at her cup, knocks over the contraption and sighs again as she bends down for them. Nudging herself out of the chair, she staggers a little bit, remembers the lunch she missed and the dinner she rushed. Definitely not the diet on the cover of Healthy Lifestyle, then.

Steering into the kitchen, she dumps the mugs in the sink and flicks on the tap. The water runs tepid, the exhaustive murmurs of the pipes commiserate with her. God, what was she even thinking when she said yes to that publisher? The uneven drone of the ceiling fan laughs at her. Oh she knew exactly what she was thinking. Books, children’s books, animated pictures and innocent words, childhood in a page, dream come true, the whole nine yards. If only time travel was real…

“Mom? What are you doing?”

Her daughter’s voice rings out against the tiled floor. Exasperated brown eyes watch her startle into reality; teenagers have no time for middle-aged reminiscing. “Nothing, well, except washing these cups, that’s all I’m doing.” She laughs softly; she’s starting to sound like a bad country song. She vaguely wonders how the girl would take her quitting; a disinterested glance, probably, an eye roll, maybe, a dismissive “uh huh” like the one when she broke the news about the books, most likely.

“What’s for dinner tonight?”  asked the daughter lazily.

“Hmm, frozen lasagna.” It just jumps out of the writer’s mouth; she doesn’t even bother to think about the menu now – her mind is on the book.

“Oh…” – the ring of an iPhone – “kay…” – a distracted laugh – “how’s your writing?”

“What writing? Oh, uh, fine I guess.” She lied.

“Uh huh …” That was expected.

The silence lengthens. She hums wordlessly, the foam bubbles swaying with her rhythm, little smiley faces popping up around the soapy water. The daughter’s voice starts up again, hesitant and cut-off, probably some school drama. She shakes herself out of her Johnny Cash mood.

“… and four-year-olds don’t actually talk like that….”

“Sorry, darling?” Kindergarten drama? This one’s new.

“I’m just saying” – tap tap tap – “you do know that no kid” – click – “would actually say “please may I have a ride on the seesaw”, right?”

“Uhh, all right?” said the writer vaguely.

The teenager lowers her phone and raises her eyebrows. “Do you even know what I’m talking about?”

“My…”

“Your book! The one you’ve been working on? Oh my god are you okay? Do you need to lie down? Do I need to call Da –” howled the daughter.

“Wait… You read my stories?” This is all too surprising for her.

“Well, duh, your laptop was on when I walked in. You said you wanted some feedback” shrugged the daughter “Wait was I supposed to wait till it’s done?”

The writer turns astonished eyes onto her visibly squirming daughter. The girl has never shown a flicker of interest in her writing before. The fan blades buzz cheerfully. The sudsy floating cups clink together, like a celebratory toast waiting too long to be let out. She crowds her daughter into a bear hug, ignoring her sharp squeal of protest at foamy fingers.

“Now what was it that four-year-olds really say?”

Ngô Thanh Nhã (Kaysie) 10B

and Ngô Thanh Lam 12V

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