A STORY ABOUT AN AMERICAN EDUCATORS
INTEREST IN VIETNAM'S CULTURE.
by DAM TRUNG PHAM
Educator William R Eubank uses "The Tale of Kieu" to teach
English to Vietnamese students at the James Bowie High School
at Arlington (TEXAS).
Mr. William R. Eubank is an American educator interested in
Asian culture. He is nearly fifty years old. His wife is
Chinese. He taught English for many years in China. At this
time he is an English teacher of Vietnamese students at James
Bowie High School in Arlington. Arlington is a wealthy city
located between Dallas and Fort Worth. I Have met Mr. Eubank
several time concerning the establishment of a Vietnamese
library at school where he is teaching - Last Saturday, April 8th,
he gave a talk about the topic "Lessons from the Tale of Kieu"
at a meeting for E.S.L. teachers at the University of North Texas
Mr. Eubank is a talented and kind teacher. Through out his
lecture he conveyed a deep knowledge about the real value of
a progressive education. At the break time, I ask him about
his reasons for using the bilingual Vietnamese and English "The Tale of Kieu"
translated by Mr. Thong Huynh for instruction in his English IV
class. He said: "I am fortunate to teach English to many Vietnamese
students at Arlington." With his sincere voice, he continued;
"The Tale of Kieu" is a famous piece of Vietnamese literature.
By using this literature, I want to show the students that the
Vietnamese culture has real value and they can be proud of it.
Beside, the students as well as their parents are knowledgeable
about "The Tale of Kieu" so when they read the translation of
Professor Thong Huynh, all of students easily understand the story
and can focus on the English." I agree with Mr. Eubank that his style
of teaching is very useful because students can review native
literature and learn more English as a Second Language.
In the past month, twenty Vietnamese students (grades 11 and 12)
used English as they analyzed and evaluated "The Tale of Kieu".
Students also wrote a theme to describe the two sisters, Thuy Kieu
and Thuy Van. They also discussed the theory of tuong do in the
old Asian society and in the present situation of the United States
All of the students were very interested and proud of studying
two languages at the same time at a high level of knowledge.
Student Hanh Nguyen said: "This book helps to remind me of where
I come from, what I am, and what am going to be. It helps me
understand a part of Vietnamese tradition that I need to preserve.
Kieu displays one good characteristic that I need to learn from,
that is how to sacrifice for family ... !"
Another student Trang Tran said: "Studying Kieu helps me learn many
difficult words in English by looking up the Vietnamese side
of the page.... This book helps me to have many experiences
about how to love my parents like Kieu did, and how to be brave
when I face the world all alone by myself."
Mr. Eubank also encourages his students write articles in
Vietnamese language and to send them to the school newspaper.
This is a progressive method of education. It prepares
students for a job when they get out of school. Students
are proud when their articles are published because they
have the readers that are friends and also their parents.
After studying "The Tale of Kieu", students Tien Nguyen,
Phuong Le, Anh Luong, Man Pham, Tan Do, Tu Le and Phu
Nguyen wrote an article "Feelings after studying the
"The Tale of Kieu" and sent it to the school newspaper.
I have reviewed the articles they wrote and I think
all Vietnamese readers can be very proud of these
students and their skills in writing clearly and
correctly in their native language.
The students that wrote about their feelings said:
"The Tale of Kieu" is not only famous in art and
literature, it also has moral value too. It effected
us in many ways and showed us many sides about persons.
These situations (in the story of Kieu) can happen in
any society and at any time. Besides having the poem
in Vietnamese, we also have the poem in English, it helps
us to have rapid progress in English. It helps us to
understand the main idea of the story."
"By studying "The Tale of Kieu" this way we have occasion
to review our knowledge of the Vietnamese language and
to learn more about the native language. In this epic
poem, we know about the real power of love over Kieu,
we also learn about the courage and bravery of Tu Hai.
We also learn about the reverse side of any society, that
there are deceiving and untrustworthy people such as Tu
Ba, Ma Giam Sinh..."
In the future when we aren't wandering, this coming generation
can return to their native country and they can have honor
when they show their knowledge about "The Tale of Kieu" that
they studied when they were living in the UNITED STATES OF
In my capacity as an educator, I hope for the continued
study and preservation of the Vietnamese culture and
Vietnamese language in a foreign country. I send to Mr.
Eubank my sincere thanks and my praise to all the
Vietnamese students at James Bowie High School who
are returning to their native country through its
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William R. Eubank
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East Lansing, Michigan 48823
United States of America