The first Vietnamese woman to win Pushkin medal

Associate Professor and Doctor of Science Nguyen Tuyet Minh was the first Vietnamese woman to receive the Medal of Pushkin in 2017. Minh has made major contributions to building the friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

Sixty years ago, 17-year-old Nguyen Tuyet Minh was one of the first Vietnamese students to be sent by President Ho Chi Minh to study in the Soviet Union.

After a year and a half of learning Russian, Minh studied at Lenin Pedagogical Institute. This was an important start for Minh to become a leading linguist and lexicographer of Russian in Vietnam.

After graduating with a degree of excellence in 1961, Minh returned home and taught literature at the Literature Faculty of Hanoi University of Education. She later worked as a lecturer of Russian at the Foreign Language Faculty of the Foreign Language Teachers’ Training College. Minh said teaching both literature and Russian gave the foundation for her later work of compiling the Vietnamese-Russian dictionary.

Nguyen Tuyet Minh (second from left) meets President Ho Chi Minh during his visit to the Soviet Union. Photo: Files

Minh (fifth from right) and scientists receiving
the Medal of Pushkin 2017 pose with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Files

Minh (second from left) with Vietnamese students who were sent to the Soviet Union in 1961. Photo: Files

In 1986, Minh was invited to compile the Vietnamese-Russian dictionary, a cooperation project between the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union (now Russian Academy of Sciences) and the Committee of Social Sciences (now Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences). Minh was one of the two principal editors of the Vietnamese-Russian dictionary, which was launched in late 2012. Minh was called “Ms. Soviet Union” after the launch of the 80,000-word dictionary, a name which implies her broad knowledge of Russian.

Minh is now the advisor at the Russian World Reading Room, Faculty of International Studies, Vietnam National University-Hanoi. Earlier, she was the vice head of the Faculty of Russian Language and Culture, University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University-Hanoi. She also participated in the compilation of Russian text books, a project between the ministries of education of the two countries.

While teaching Russian, Minh considered teaching the culture of the country important as well because “the language of a country reflects its culture.” Minh’s students were inspired by her love for Russian which “is not merely a language, but a great culture and an advanced science.”

Minh was the first Vietnamese woman to receive the Medal of Pushkin.

The Medal of Pushkin awarded by Russian President Putin.

Minh is one of the two principal editors of the Vietnamese-Russian dictionary, one of the largest Russian dictionaries with over 80,000 words.

Minh still keeps objects and papers related to her studies in the Soviet Union 50 years ago.

Now, at the age of 80, Minh still writes and translates books according to the life philosophy “we work as long as we live” she had learned from the Russian people.

Nguyen Tuyet Minh received the Medal of Pushkin from Russian President Putin at the Grand Kremlin Palace in 2017. The Medal is awarded to Russian and foreign citizens for achievements in the arts and culture, education, humanities and literature. More than 900 people from 90 countries have received the Medal.
Story: Thao Vy – Photos: Viet Cuong & Files