How can blind students use computers, even connecting on Facebook?
How can blind students attend regular school, eventually enrolling in colleges and universities?
How can blind students participate in sports?
How can blind students grow up to support their families and take care of their children?
How can blind students work to give back to the centers where they learned?
All of these accomplishments come from simply having the passion to change for the better.
The blind students at the centers in Vietnam that BVCF supports have truly astounded me with everything they have done so far in their lives. After traveling to Vietnam, I received the opportunity to visit nine centers, hang out with the children, and observe their daily lives. I am truly thankful for this experience and consider the students my great teachers. Moreover, they became excellent role models for me because of everything they taught me during my time there. Not only have they helped me realized things I hadn't thought about before, but they opened my own eyes.
One thing that I realized right away is that these blind children use all of their senses. Even though they can’t see, they notice everything around them; they’re more aware than I am. If there’s even one change in the setting or environment around them, they notice it right away. They hear, feel, taste, and smell more accurately than I do. Also, they don’t think of their blindness as a disability, but instead, just a minor setback. Others outside of their community might think that they are disabled and will always need aid. But that’s not the case for many. As I talked to many children, I saw that they are constantly striving to become independent, and have adapted very well to their blindness.
They may not see, but they are certainly not disabled.
Even when I was simply talking to them, they were full of energy. They always greeted me with a smile; in fact, I never saw anyone at the center show a frown. One of the most admirable qualities is that they are very optimistic and positive. They overlook the negativity that they are sometimes presented in life and always exemplify a positive attitude. Every time I visited a center, I could never stop smiling and laughing after talking with the children. Their humor and bright personalities eventually spread to me as an overwhelming joy.
One of the questions I had in mind before my visit was how the children studied and went to school. I had previously heard of Braille, the language the blind use to communicate and write, but I had never seen it up close. After visiting the Vi Thuy Home for the Blind, I learned how to read and write my last name in Braille, but I wasn’t even close to learning all the complex patterns and combinations that the language has. I was definitely impressed after observing one child swiftly moving his hands over the dotted paper and reciting a story with ease. It took me a few minutes to read just one word. I’ve realized that when I learn, I only have to read and retain the information, but many of the children have to work twice as hard to recognize the information. But they don’t let the added difficulty stop them from learning. These children are really the most amazing students that I have ever met.
If I were to describe the children in one word, I would say that they are passionate. They are hardworking and diligent with everything they do. Whether it’s learning or playing, they give it their all to enjoy it. After they became blind, they didn’t simply give up on their old lifestyle and resign themselves to a lesser life. They learned to adapt and continued to grow. They have created their own dreams and chase them as hard as they can.
The challenges that I might face will never be as significant as theirs. They might not be able to see, but they absolutely have a bigger heart that I do. They cherish everything they have, which makes it easier for them to fight for what they believe in. That’s why with everything that they do, they never give up; they persevere until they reach their goals. They have the courage to face any challenge that comes their way. To them, nothing seems impossible, because they know that as long as they keep working hard, it will work out. They have the faith that they can change for the better and improve their lifestyle.
They have realized that the decision about how they live isn’t up to the people who care for them, it’s up to them and how they decide to live. The choices that they make take them one step closer to success and more happiness.
If there is one thing I learned from them that I will never forget, it’s that I must have the passion to follow what I want and always strive to change for the better.