Lao student studies Vietnamese to achieve artistic dream

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Ting during an Erhu class with his teacher at the Military University of Culture and Arts. — Photo courtesy of Ting Yangkeo

Bảo Ngọc

Before deciding to study in Việt Nam, Ting Yangkeo was already passionate about one thing: art.

The Laos native, who goes simply by Ting, was born into a family of seven with creative roots. Traditional art was not only the family legacy but also a way for him to express himself.

“The fact that I was born into a family that values the arts makes me feel enormously fortunate and proud,” he said.

“It was so wonderful to grow up with a passion for art in your genes. I remembered spending a ton of time as a child listening to music and watching cultural programmes on television.”

At the age of 11, with the encouragement of his family, Ting spent seven years studying traditional instruments at the Lao National School of Music. During that time, he also learned to play the xylophone and a flute-like instrument called “the khene”.

He then joined the cultural and artistic troupe of the Lao People’s Army, right after graduating from music school. There, Ting has worked as a performer in a wide variety of shows at home and abroad.

Ting while working with the cultural and artistic troupe of the Lao People’s Army. Photo courtesy of Ting Yangkeo

The talented young man decided to study in Việt Nam at the age of 25, describing the experience as “challenging and thrilling.”

“I had a hard time adapting to the new environments because I had no prior knowledge of the Vietnamese language or culture,”

“Sometimes I don’t even understand what people are saying to me,” he admitted.

Ting was then required to complete a one-year Vietnamese language course at Division 871 of the Vietnamese People’s Army’s General Department of Politics. This is the essential procedure for him to enrol at a university in Việt Nam.

He shared: “For me, the most challenging part of Vietnamese is the pronunciation, which is complicated by the language’s numerous tones. In terms of sentences, if you translate a Vietnamese word into Lao, it might represent a variety of things.”

“I spent a lot of time thinking throughout that period. As soon as possible, I want to be fluent in this language, and fortunately, the teachers use an approachable teaching style that makes it easier for me to retain what they are teaching,” he added.

Ting (far right) at the closing ceremony of the Vietnamese language training course for students from Laos and Cambodia in the 2017-2018 academic year. Photo courtesy of Ting Yangkeo

Truth be told, Ting also revealed that he made use of after-school time spent in public places to practise his Vietnamese communication skills and gain a better understanding of his new home country’s culture.

“Taking advantage of bustling public spaces like markets or parks to learn more about the Vietnamese language and lifestyle is an excellent idea. I also study on my own in the evenings, doing assignments, writing a lot, reading a lot, and going over prior lessons to master the language faster,” he said.

After a year, Ting was allowed to enrol in the Military University of Culture and Arts. Here, the 30-year-old student has found love with đàn nhị (erhu), a Vietnamese bowed two-stringed bowed musical instrument and bamboo flute.

Ting found his passion for Vietnamese ethnic musical instruments at the Military University of Culture and Arts. Photo courtesy of Ting Yangkeo

“Learning about art involves more than just skill. It requires a lot of hard work and practise, as well as love and enthusiasm.”

“Fortunately, my Vietnamese teachers and friends are always there to lend a helping hand when I need it. I feel that with my own efforts, I will grow more confident and successful in the future,” he said.

In addition to the schoolwork, Ting also actively engages in numerous sports events, voluntary blood donation movements, cultural and artistic activities of the university, and most recently the “National folk instrument solo and concert 2020” competition.

Ting performing with the Khene, the national instrument of Laos. Photo courtesy of Ting Yangkeo

Ting said that all of these activities help him find and cultivate other skills that contribute to his personal development.

He has received various certificates of honour from the university as a result of his tireless dedication to learning and public service, including the Certificate of Merit for students who made significant contributions to the Arts in 2019, Certificates of Merit for students who excellently completed their tasks in 2020-2021 and for those who participated in voluntary blood donation in 2021.

Regarding his future ambitions, the 30-year-old shares his hope that his story will inspire many other young people and encourage them to pursue their passions with confidence.

“I hope that I can return to Laos soon, and when I do, I will carry with me the skills and knowledge I have gained over the previous five years in Việt Nam to apply in my home country.

“I also hope that my story may motivate others to pursue their passion and live confidently.” he shared. VNS

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