The La Pagoda Center at 12/2E Quang Trung Street in Go Vap District of Ho Chi Minh City belonging to the Buddhist Shangha of Vietnam and managed by Venerable Thich Nhuan Tam, is a refuge and haven for numerous poor students from the provinces.
Monk Thich Nhuan Tam says, “At the beginning, the Pagoda just opened free literacy classes for about 30 poor children from the neighborhood, then with an increasing number of students, classes were upgraded to include free language training for five foreign languages including English, French, German, Japanese and Chinese”.
These modest classes in a poor neighborhood are small but thousands of poor students attend them. On certain rush day’s students have to sit on the pavement to study.
Le Thi Xuan, a third year student of the University of Food Processing Technology said, "I was introduced by friends to this free foreign language class which is three times a week. I'm very happy with the class”.
Similarly, Le Thi Nhat Hoa, a third year student of the College of Customs Finance, confided, "Learning in a foreign language centre, the tuition is from VND500,000 to 1 million per month. I dare not go there to study because I have to care about school fees and house rent, etc.”
The reason why this place is so attractive for students despite the poor infrastructure is the warm and welcoming attitude of the monks and teachers.
|A teacher teaching the poor students at La Pagoda Center|
The La Pagoda Center has more than 20 teachers who hold master’s degrees, bachelor degrees and are teaching in foreign language centers at universities. "I heard La Pagoda is organizing free classes for poor students. I was moved and requested the Pagoda to let me teach here for free,” said Nguyen Van Nghia, a Chinese teacher.
English teacher Tran Thuy My Duyen from the HCMC National University told reporters, "By chance I heard about La Pagoda where classes are free, and I wanted to contribute, to teach English to disadvantaged students. Through teaching, I found most of them were quite intelligent, hardworking, and quick at learning".
Bui Thi Thanh Thuy, a student of Industrial University in HCMC expressed, "In addition to learning a foreign language for free, we are also equipped with life skills, ways to deal with people via camping, charity activities, and so on... and we can be more confident after graduation”.
Word spreads far, now every year there are more than 300 poor students from various places who continue to enroll in La Pagoda. The numbers of foreign language classes have increased to 26 more with 1,000 poor students.
The La Pagoda classes have become quite crowded. However, recently, many kind hearted people and overseas Vietnamese have supported the pagoda by their generous contributions.
Classes have been enlarged and many more students are able to study here. Many of the grateful students who studied here for free have even returned after getting jobs to donate their first month’s salary to La Pagoda.