In Vietnam, it is extremely rare for a woman to choose to become a mechanic, let alone a mechanic working on an ocean liner, so Hua Nguyen Hoai Thuong’s story catches everyone’s attention.
“Men usually go with each other on ocean voyages, while Thuong is working alone at sea,” Thuong recited old folk poetry to describe her work as a mechanic on an ocean liner traveling around the world.
“When I was a child, I had a boat powered by an AAA battery that was made by my brother.
“He and I often played with the boat in the afternoon in a river behind our house, where I began dreaming of becoming a mechanic in the future.”
The only female ship mechanic
Thuong, 23, is currently working for Truong Phat Loc Shipping JSC based in Ho Chi Minh City. She is the only woman who works on the company’s ocean trips.
“There have not been many female ship mechanics, only two so far,” general director Le Minh Dung said, adding that one of them is working on an international liner.
Having a special love for ships during her childhood, Thuong found out she was really interested in the engine room on huge vessels when she studied at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport.
Despite understanding that ocean liner voyages can last many months or even a year, she was determined to become a seafarer.
“I feel like being challenged in the engine room operating a ship,” said the young female technician.
“I dream of traveling around the world while taking the job as well.”
The woman has taken the duty as a mechanic on a ship for less than a year. Thuong is working on an international voyage these days to transport goods for her company’s business partners.
Every day, she has a morning meeting that usually lasts 30 minutes with other co-workers. The chief engineer will control the meeting while the second engineer will point out the duties for each crew member during the day.
After discussing potential obstacles relating to the duties as well as finding solutions to them, each sailor will try to finish their own work.
Thuong will never forget the happiness of working as an official mechanic on the first day on the ship.
“I have served my internship many times before having a chance to work officially in the position,” shared Thuong.
“I have to learn how to use support tools, how to control the technical equipment in the engine room, and how to fix a problem when it occurs.”
Despite taking a lot of training classes before working on a ship, Thuong felt unavoidably nervous.
Thanks to working directly with technical systems and equipment, the young mechanic feels more confident with the passing of time.
“I remember how extremely happy I felt when I could operate the waste burning system on the ship for the first time.
“It was beyond all words.”
|Hua Nguyen Hoai Thuong operates an oven to burn garbage on the ship. Photo: Thy Hue / Tuoi Tre|
‘It is not arduous work’
Working as a mechanic to Thuong is not a tough duty. In contrast, she feels so proud of herself to live day by day with her passion for contributing to the ship’s safety in voyages.
“I really cannot remember how many enjoyable moments that I have had while working on the ship,” Thuong said.
“I am asked to do tasks suitable to my strength and always to be instructed by older co-workers.
“Because of my young age, I am considered as a little sister on the ship by everybody.
“I always get the love from them.”
There is a popular myth that scares many women from choosing a career as a sailor. They are told that working on a vessel can cause infertility.
Like many other women, Thuong knows about this before deciding to become a seafarer.
“From my experience, I think that we can be affected badly by the work when we don’t comply with established guidelines,” she said.
“For example, we may fail to wear personal protective suits when exposed to chemicals or any equipment on board.
“You will not run into any health problems if you meet all safety standards.”
As Thuong’s current instructor, chief mechanic Pham Ngoc Anh gave incredibly positive feedback about his subordinate.
“Thuong has put a lot of effort into the work,” said Anh.
“She is quick in both gaining knowledge and putting it into practice at work.
“She is friendly with everyone and she is working as well as other peer male co-workers.”
Thuong intends to study more to become a senior engineer in the future.
She will try her best to achieve this goal, which will be a crucial step that would keep her career growing.
According to Le Minh Dung, female mechanics have difficulty getting a certificate of technical capability from the Vietnamese marine administration despite the job being recognized by the 2019 Labor Code.
Currently, Thuong works as a staff with certificates of basic training issued by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport in lifesaving, fire extinguishing, first aid, and safety situations.
She will be able to get an official position on board only when she has a certificate of technical capability.
That is why Thuong has not been added to the list of on-duty staff on the ship.
Thailand and Việt Nam: Advancing a Strengthened Strategic Partnership for a sustainable future
An article by H.E. Mr. Nikorndej Balankura, ambassador of Thailand on the birthday anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, Thai National Day and Thailand Father’s Day (December 5)
Every year December 5 marks the most significant day for Thai people around the world as we commemorate the National Day of the Kingdom of Thailand, the birthday anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Thailand’s Father’s Day.
In addition, since 2013 the day has been observed as the World Soil Day by the United Nations to honour the efforts and dedication of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great in the field of soil resources based on the adoption of the “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP)”.
The home-grown approach, comprising the three core principles of moderation, reasonableness and self-protection, has been translated in to over 4,000 royal initiatives and projects that have been guiding Thai people in achieving sustainability by drawing strength from within.
Despite his passing, the late King’s legacy for SEP lives on and has paved the way for sustainable development, not only in Thailand, but also in many parts of the world.
In Việt Nam, the first SEP-driven sustainable community development project was introduced in Thái Nguyên Province in 2019 to promote the development in agri-processing and community-based tourism. Its success can be witnessed through enhanced knowledge of people in local communities, which has equipped them with greater resiliency. To build on the momentum of this cooperation, this year Thailand and Việt Nam agreed to further expand the SEP community development project to Bến Tre Province in Mekong River Delta.
Sustainability is also the cornerstone for celebrating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Việt Nam in 2021. As two neighbouring countries with long standing friendship of over 100 years, our peoples have always been very well-connected and continue to be the backbone of our relations.
Since the formal establishment of bilateral relations, the special relationship between the two countries has matured and enjoyed the status of “a Strengthened Strategic Partnership” since 2019.
This year, Thailand and Việt Nam are celebrating the 45th anniversary of our diplomatic relations amid a the new set of challenges accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the partnership between the two countries has broadened and deepened in all dimensions.
Recently, Don Pramudwinai, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Thailand, and Bùi Thanh Sơn, minister of foreign affairs of Việt Nam, co-chaired the 4th Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation on November 19 2021, which has paved the way for exchanges of high-level visits in 2022, including the 4th Joint Cabinet Retreat to be co-chaired by the two prime ministers.
Furthermore, the Thai Private Sector in Việt Nam will establish the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ThaiCham) to promote Thai trade and investments in Việt Nam, as well as create a more conducive environment for the two countries to prosper together sustainably. Meanwhile, the friendship between our youths has broadened thanks to modern and alternative communication channels and digital platforms, laying the firm foundation for a new era of cooperation.
Thailand and Việt Nam’s golden jubilee anniversary is just around the corner. Both countries will continue to be key contributors to sustainable growth and prosperity in South East Asia and beyond, particularly when we re-emerge more resilient and stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a view to achieving our goals, the two countries will advance the Strengthened Strategic Partnership through greater supply chain connectivity to achieve a trade target of US$ 25 billion by 2025, while facilitating travel resumption at the earliest opportunity.
Furthermore, Thailand and Việt Nam will explore potential collaboration on new frontiers such as digital economy, e-commerce and Bio- Circular-Green Economy at bilateral, regional and global levels for more inclusive and innovative growth. These issues will also be prioritised during Thailand’s Chairmanship of APEC throughout the upcoming year.
In the midst of a challenging and increasingly complex geopolitical landscape, we are even more confident that our deepened cooperation and widened collaboration through the Strengthened Strategic Partnership will help shape a sustainable future for both our peoples. VNS
Replica history complex inspires young students
By Nguyễn Bình
Newly built replicas of relic sites and landscapes at the Trần Mai Ninh Secondary School are making history and geography classes more vivid for junior students in the central province of Thanh Hoá.
Autumn sunlight is spread out over the replica complex in the schoolyard inspiring students to learn a new subject — location education.
Some of the 15 replicas such as the Hồ Dynasty Citadel, the Hàm Rồng Bridge, Ba Đình Square and others are set in a 2,000 square metre yard in the school. The complex was completed two months ago to meet the demands of teaching the new subject for the 2021-22 school year.
The complex was built during the summer vacation with a view to serving Grade 6 students under the Ministry of Training and Education’s instruction and the provincial Department of Training and Education’s curriculum, according to Trần Thị Phương Lan, principal of the school.
“The replicas aim to help students see historic relic sites and landscapes of the province at the school who have not had a chance of going to the real sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lan said.
“It also makes teaching and learning more effective and noteworthy, inspiring students in patriotism and national pride. The students will be aware of the tradition of preservation and development. Field trips cannot be held due to the pandemic, so the replicas are really helpful for teaching and learning.”
The highlights of the site are the replica of Ba Đình Square and the statue of President Hồ Chí Minh reading the Declaration of Independence to establish the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam in 1945.
It is a nice surprise for students who mostly have not had a chance to visit Ba Đình Square in Hà Nội. They possibly do not know that the square was named after the historic Ba Đình Uprising in Nga Sơn District in Thanh Hoá Province in the 19th century.
Each replica in the complex is accompanied by an information board.
Near the gate of the school is the replica of the relic of the citadel of the Hồ Dynasty (1400-1407), which was recognised as a World Culture Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011.
The citadel, mentioned in Đại Việt Sử Ký Toàn Thư (The Complete Annals of the Great Việt), was built during the reign of King Trần Thuận Tông (1388-98) by Prime Minister Hồ Quý Ly, who acceded to the throne in 1400.
It is the only fortified citadel with unique stone architecture remaining in Southeast Asia.
Another replica, Ngõ Nhân (Nhân Lane), was selected among five lanes, namely Nhân, Nghĩa, Trí, Lễ and Dũng, representing the five constant virtues of kindness, uprightness, wisdom, decorum and braveness, in a Đông Sơn ancient village to be placed at the site.
It is the only original lane gate remaining in the village, according to the principal.
A replica of a Đông Sơn bronze drum is placed together with Ngõ Nhân to let the students know more about Đông Sơn culture. Đông Sơn District was the first place to unearth ancient Đông Sơn bronze drums dating back to more than 2,000 years ago.
Selecting the historical sites and landscapes symbolising the province development was discussed by the teachers, according to Lan.
“We want the students to have a comprehensive view not only of history and culture but also society and economy,” she said.
This explains why the complex also comprises of the Nghi Sơn Economic Zone, Sầm Sơn Beach and Pù Luông Natural Reserve.
“The complex is beautiful and useful for us,” said Trương Gia Bảo, a pupil from Class 6H. “It encourages me to learn about the popular historical relic and geographic sites in Thanh Hóa Province.”
Trần Hữu Phước from Class 6B also expressed his interest in the site.
“This is a wonderful model helping us know more about the historical sites and landscapes of my homeland in an effective way,” he said.
According to Lê Hà Nhật Lâm, from Class 6A, the complex inspires her and her classmates to learn the new subject in their first year of secondary school.
“It is amazing to see the vivid replicas at the school,” Lâm said.
“We do not have to sit boringly in the class reading books and watching a projector. We can go to the complex to see the replicas which help us learn about culture, history, geography, society and the economic development of our province.”
The complex was completed at the end of August, aimed at welcoming in the new school year. In a short time, it has been effective for both teaching and learning, according to literature teacher Nguyễn Thị Loan.
“The students who are lacking knowledge of local history will get to know milestones of the provincial history,” Loan said.
“They will be active to learn and be more proud of their homeland and other cultural values of the nation. I assigned the students a task to research and collect information about the relic sites to summarise both in Vietnamese and English. These presentations will also boost the English learning and presentation skills of the students.”
A large mural on the wall opposite the site gives historic development and geographic milestones helping not only students but school visitors understand the project.
The site construction won the second prize at the provincial 2021 Science and Technology Innovation Awards. It is one of the nominations for the National Awards, which will announce the winners in December. VNS
It’s time to take the Golden Rule more seriously
by Anh Đức
“Treat others as you would like others to treat you” is probably one of the most common teachings people come across. The great philosopher Confucius is widely known as among the first to preach this idea, and it can also be found in other religions and cultures across the world: in a verse of the Bible, the teachings of Buddha and Prophet Muhammad’s Hadith. It is called “the Golden Rule”.
As society and technology progress, it is confusing and sad that the Golden Rule is being ignored. People now tend to mistreat others, and do whatever they want without consent. And sadly, in most cases it is women who bear this mistreatment, offering little to no retaliation.
An expat TikToker in Việt Nam has become famous for his “crazy” videos. One of his latest videos was, however, polarizing. It shows a young girl sitting alone, happily eating noodle and sausage. The TikToker then shows up, scooches closer and closer to the girl, and gestures for her to put “something” in his mouth as if mock begging. He repeats this for almost a minute, with the girl looking at him angrily, clearly uncomfortable.
The comments in response were of two different worlds: some viewers denounced the TikToker for blatantly harassing the girl for internet fame; others viewed his stunt as “just a joke”, saying “it’s okay for westerners to do such things, their culture is more easy-going”.
The young girl, Ánh Ngọc (not her real name), aged 23, said that what happened in the video did not show the bigger picture. She recalled that man was catcalling Vietnamese girls in front of the convenience store where she bought her food. After a while, he started to film his aforementioned “prank”, without the consent of the girl, nor did he blur her face in the video. Ngọc demanded an apology but the prankster ignored her, and so she turned to social media to help report and remove the content.
“But after I publicly condemned him on Facebook, his wife started to harass me through private messages. The couple even hosted a livestream where my face was again used without my consent and ridiculed,” Ngọc said. “All I wanted was just an apology, nothing more. I felt scared and ashamed.”
But Ngọc’s story is sadly just one of many, and not even the worst example of harassment and mistreatment of women. There are stories of women getting teased, or abused, either in public or private spaces, no matter what they are wearing or what they are doing. And some of those perpetrators are, you guessed it, pranksters doing it for their fifteen minutes of fame.
A prank or a joke by any definition should be funny and make people laugh for the right reasons, not cringe-worthy and make people feel bad. Even hidden camera prank shows like “Just For Laughs” ask subjects for their consent to use footage of their face. People who are annoyed, or scared by the pranks are apologized to immediately. No person should ever be the target of public humiliation.
And in what “easy-going, open” culture is such street harassment appropriate? If you harass people on the street, you can be fined up to 750 euros in France, or spend a month in jail in the Philippines. This is not to mention the public backlash you would almost certainly face if the act was recorded and posted on the internet. You would be ashamed, not the other way around.
Dear readers, how would you respond if what happened to Ngọc happened to your children? Would you want to see them suffer, not only the initial harassment but the ignorant responses of the public? Or would you fight for them and stand up against the bullies and such behaviour? Small “jokes and pranks”, if encouraged and not met with a response, can turn into worse behaviour against women or underprivileged groups.
Equality, either for gender, race, or anything else, does not start with something big and ambitious. It starts with the proper respect that people should give to each other, regardless of who you are, or where you are from. It is only from these small deeds that we can truly try to understand each other more, and foster bigger conversations for grander causes. The Golden Rule needs to be followed and passed down among generations for it to be forever golden. —VNS
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