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Hello, Youth!

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By Phùng Thị Thu'o'ng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: Jan 28, 2022

[Vietnam] Phùng Thị Thu'o'ng, Nanning Normal University

Phùng Thị Thu'o'ng [Photo provided to chinadaily.com]

“I’m still the same young man without any change

Time is just a test of the faith planted in heart undiminished

This young man still has the young face

Never will he retreat in spite of hardships”

Listening to this song, have you ever recalled your youthful appearances, and the fond memories of youth?

I am an international student from Vietnam. I come from Nanning Normal University, and my youth belongs to the Green City – Nanning.

Welcome to listen to the story of my youth.

My youth is seeking knowledge.

I remember when I first started college, I was afraid of strangers. Strange people, strange city. There was a lot of pressure for me to attend classes with my Chinese friends because the school was new, the teaching methods were new, everything was new and I really wasn’t used to it yet. At the end of the first semester, I had to take a make-up exam for a course. I am a very proud person, and it was unacceptable for me to take a make-up exam. At that time, I was a little bit frightened inside.

Then Ms. Pang, a teacher who cared about me most, learned about it, and talked to me for a long time, comforting me a lot. All my problems were solved that day. When she had time, Ms. Pang would always teach me carefully and explain to me where I didn’t understand. Not only did I have teachers guiding me in study, I also had many Chinese students who were especially helpful in every class. I have learned a lot in both books and life.

My youth is confidence.

If you think international students have fewer opportunities to go to events, then you are wrong! In my university there are not only international students from Vietnam but also those from other countries. We often organize exchange activities. I participated in a competition in 2019: the first etiquette competition for Vietnamese international students. This competition was held by Nanning International Students Association and participated by all universities in Guangxi.

The performances were grand in scale and held great significance. I trained from morning till night, and often just took a few bites of food haphazardly before going to practice. And I would hang up after a few quick words with my parents on the phone. Finally, when I stood alone on the stage in the big auditorium under the golden lights, I became suddenly aware of who I am and what I should do. There are things which, if you don’t dare to do, or try to do, you will never know what you want to do and where your limits really are.

The campus of Nanning Normal University [Photo provided to chinadaily.com]

My youth is loving and being loved.

The weather in Nanning is similar to that in my hometown Hanoi. I would sneeze and feel uncomfortable every time the weather changes. I remember when I first came to China, I didn’t know a soul. I was sick in bed while my roommate was on a trip. They say that people are most vulnerable when they are sick. It is true. I lay in bed missing my parents and the good times I had in Vietnam, and cried silently. Suddenly there was a knock on the door.

I quickly dried my tears, climbed down from the bed and opened the door. It was my classmate A Hui. She said, “I know you are not yet used to Chinese food, so I made some porridge for you. Have a good rest after you take the medicine. I’ve told the teacher that you won’t go to class tomorrow. Tell me if there’s anything you need. I’ll be around.” I cried again. Suddenly I realized that when you open your heart, when you care for others, the whole world will love you again.

My youth is knowledge.

My knowledge comes from traveling. I am very fond of traveling and love to learn more new things, especially in China. Every place in China has its unique local characteristics and historical stories worthy of being explored. I was much impressed by the taste of tea in Guangzhou, and I was also amazed by the architecture and history of the temples in Hangzhou.

In front of “Guilin landscape tops those elsewhere,” I suddenly lost my consciousness for a moment. The more places I traveled to, the smaller I found myself. The world is so big, and there are still many interesting things waiting for me to explore. When you study in another country, you should go to all parts of that country. You can also keep thinking: How does China develop itself? Why are young people in China always working hard? Youth is traveling, and you don’t need to fear the hardships on your road.

The city view of Nanning, capital of the South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com]

My youth is peace.

Some people say that we must do great things in youth. But everyone has his own opinion. For me the meaning of youth is embodied in those very, very small things. Youth is the satisfaction from seeing the sunrays coming in through the window at the break of dawn; youth is the 13-year-old boy in morning news who found 30,000 yuan and took it to the police station to return it to the owner; youth is doing what Ms. Yi often says to me, which is that I should pay attention to her lectures; youth is a bun given to me by my friend Xiao Lu in the morning; youth is holding a camera on a beautiful day, taking pictures of the scenery of Nanning and saving the rhythm of life of this city; youth is the happiness of two old people holding hands in the street in the endless flow of people ... These small things alone are enough to make me happy for a whole day.

Once I read a sentence: “At that time he was the best he, and later I was the best I. But the best we are separated by a whole youth. Uncrossable youth, with however much running. And we have to hold out our hands and say goodbye.”

Youth is like a painting, which takes the combination of all colors, and you are the painter. I am always hoping that someday in the future, when I leisurely take out the “pictures of youth”, look at them, and tell my children how wonderful my youth was, I must have a smile on my face.

May you always be happy. May you always be free. Promise me that while we are still young, we must cherish our most beautiful years. Will you?

The story is from "My Beautiful Encounter with China" Essay Competition organized by the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchanges (CSCSE).