General’s valuable advice to young generation

There is one story that happened four years ago but its significance remains unaltered. That significance comes from the valuable advice a well-known general, Vo Nguyen Giap, gave to a student in particular and to the young generation in general.

General Vo Nguyen Giap talks with and gives his profound advice to Le Vu Hoang on October 2, 2005, when Hoang won the Olympia contest (Photo: SGGP)

On October 2, 2005, Le Vu Hoang, a poor student from central Quang Binh Province, won the “Way up to the top of Olympia” contest. His success was publicized and he became a high profile media story, which praised him for his great efforts to overcome challenges and hardship.

However, few people knew that on the evening of the same day, General Vo Nguyen Giap had an intimate talk with the outstanding student for 45 minutes, at which this author was glad to be among the witnesses.

“How are you feeling about the contest this morning?” asked the 95-year-old general, starting the talk between two people of two different generations but from the same native land: Quang Binh.

“It was a very hard contest, but I prepared for it for a long time. Through the other contests I have experienced, I realize that to win a contest, contestants must be very confident, must keep calm and must prepare well.”

Hearing Hoang talk about his family, Gen. Giap paid special attention to the fact that Hoang’s mother was in hospital on the day Hoang attended the contest. 

Asked about his future plans, Hoang said: “My wish is to become an electronics engineer and apply my knowledge in building the country.”

Gen. Giap advised: “Well, you should continue your efforts in study, since you are still very young. Our Vietnam is considered a heroic example for its past performances that are well known and recognized by everyone around the world.

“Under the Party’s leadership and President Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam is a heroic country, but it is still a poor country. Today, you and your friends must contribute to make Vietnam not only remain a heroic country but also become a prosperous country with a just society, capable of walking abreast with other countries in the world.”

Holding the general’s left hand with his two hands, Hoang said: “I promise you that I will try my best.”

“Well, you should exert yourself. Your wining the contest is great, but do not rest on your laurels. Do not be self-satisfied. There is a long way ahead for you to travel. You have won a contest, but in fact, but what have you really done for the country. Our country is still poor. Remember that, my dear,” replied Gen. Giap.

Still closely holding the general’s hand, Hoang replied: “Yes, I will always keep it in mind.”

After hearing Hoang talk about the situation of education in Quang Binh, Gen. Giap presented him with two books, one about Dien Bien Phu and the other about the liberation of Saigon.

On the first page of one of the books, he wrote: “Congratulations Le Vu Hoang. Hoping you to follow Uncle Ho’s instructions, to improve your virtue, develop your talent and make more progress, all for the fatherland – a socialist country of Vietnam.”

He also signed the two books before handing them to Hoang, and said, “Remember my words, dear.”

“Yes, I will remember,” Hoang replied.

The general added, “If you agree with this, let’s shake hands to show unanimity on a ‘contract’ between us.”

Their shaking hands won tremendous applause from the witnesses.

After posing for a photo with everyone in the room, Gen. Giap told Hoang about the content of the two books and said that to be successful, people must have determination and a practical action plan for what they need to do.

Today, General Giap is 99 years old and Hoang is studying in Australia and pursuing his goals that he promised to the general. As for me, I will always remember the advice the general gave to Hoang, as well as to young people in general.

By Tran Luu – Translated by Vinh Tho

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