After completing high school, Sari, a resident of Can Duoc District in the Mekong Delta province of Long An, made the decision not to pursue higher education and instead sought employment to contribute to her family’s financial needs.

During the following years, she faced numerous challenges. She embarked on a journey to further her education as a university student and successfully obtained a degree in English. Despite her physical limitations, she also managed to participate in and succeed in international swimming competitions.

Despite facing numerous obstacles, she persevered and accomplished even more by opening a free English class in her community.

The classroom where Sari teaches is a cozy space measuring approximately 10 square meters. However, it is consistently bustling with enthusiastic students every Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 5:45 to 7:30 pm. Despite its compact size, this room fully accommodates their learning needs, providing ample resources such as a sturdy board, well-equipped desks, and comfortable chairs.

In just seven years, Sari has successfully educated over 100 underprivileged children from Can Duoc and neighboring districts in English, math, and literature through her dedicated teaching efforts.

“When I initially began my English language learning journey, I lacked any foundational knowledge of the language. As a result, I harbored concerns about my ability to keep up with my peers in the classroom. Additionally, I faced financial constraints that hampered my ability to afford supplementary lessons,” shared Sari.

“This class is an opportunity for underprivileged students to enhance their skills, ensuring they have a more successful journey than I did.”

Poor students attend Sari’s free English class in Can Duoc District, Long An Province. Photo: Supplied
Poor students attend Sari’s free English class in Can Duoc District, Long An Province. Photo: Supplied

I am honored to be referred to as a “teacher”.

Sari holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Studies, although she does not possess a pedagogical certificate. Nonetheless, she possesses a strong desire to assist students in need.

Sari frequently requests permission from her supervisor to leave work early in order to accommodate her dual commitments as a swimming instructor and a member of the national disabled swimmers team.

Van Huynh Nhu, a third-year student at Van Hien University in Ho Chi Minh City, has expressed her gratitude towards Sari’s class, which she had attended in her earlier years. Currently, when she revisits her hometown, she seeks guidance from Sari regarding any uncertainties she may have with English grammar.

Nhu praised her four-year education under the tutelage of Sari, commending her exceptional skills as a language instructor and her unwavering dedication to teaching.

A highly accomplished swimmer with a disability

Nguyen Thi Sari, a highly accomplished member of Vietnam’s national disabled swim team, has been awarded a remarkable total of 26 gold medals, 13 silver medals, and one bronze medal throughout her illustrious career with the national team.

During the ASEAN Para Games, she achieved remarkable success by winning a total of five gold medals, ten silver medals, and four bronze medals.

She was recognized as the top swimmer at the ASEAN Para Games 2009, earning an impressive trio of gold medals.