Boarding school nurtures students' passion for ethnic minority culture

(VOVWORLD) - Students in the Tien Yen mountain district of Quang Ninh province have been taught the ethnic culture of their own groups and also of others. Many Dao, San Chi, and Tay boys and girls are dreaming of becoming artisans. These special classes are part of local efforts to promote ethnic traditions.
Boarding school nurtures students' passion for ethnic minority culture - ảnh 1 Tien Yen boarding students practice folk songs and dances. (Photo: Truong Giang/VOV)

Every Saturday, students of the Tien Yen boarding high school gather at their ethnic folk art club to sing and dance together. The club, which debuted in 2012, now has 60 members including Dao Thanh Y, Thanh Phan, Tay, and San Chi minority people.

They learn songs and dances that celebrate a bumper crop or praise the beauty of Vietnam. They have different mother tongues but share an interest in folk songs and performances of all local groups. 7th grader Chiu Thi Chi is from the Dao ethnic group but also loves “then”, a typical singing style of the Tay. Initially, it was hard for Chi to remember the lyrics because she didn’t understand the Tay language. But things have improved thanks to tutoring by her Tay friends. Now Chi can sing in confidence.

“At first, I didn’t want to sing in an ethnic language. But more and more friends joined me so I felt happy and have loved to sing ever since,” she told VOV. 

9th grader Ban The Huong, while playing the “tính” – a two-stringed musical instrument of the Tay – proudly announced that he is one of the best singers in his class. Huong can remember a great number of folk songs. His friends love his singing and encourage him to try new things. 

“I feel very comfortable at the club which provides us a joyful learning atmosphere. I learn a lot about ethnic culture. I want to learn more songs and chants of other ethnic groups across Vietnam and how to play their musical instruments as well. My dream is becoming an artisan,” Huong said.  

Boarding school nurtures students' passion for ethnic minority culture - ảnh 2 Performances of folk art are given at local festivals.

According teacher Pham Chung Thuong, singing the folk songs of different ethnic groups drives away the shyness of those, who first just talked with friends of the same mother tongue. Teachers of the Kinh majority group sometimes struggle to teach ethnic songs because they don’t know the languages so the Tien Yen high school invites local artisans to teach both teachers and students. The teachers then take notes of these special lessons to help teach back to their students and also to learn their ethnic languages as well.

Ms. Thuong said:  “It was actually very difficult at first but the more we understand the songs, the more we love them. Ethnic culture is very interesting. Learning ethnic languages is essential to teachers, making it easier for us in daily communication and in folk art teaching”.

The teachers also learn folk dances and teach them to students. Performances have since been given at local festivals. In addition, the club presents lessons on brocade embroidery of the Dao people and the methods of wearing traditional costumes, which ethnic students wear every Monday.

Tien Yen school holds regular competitions of folk singing and ethnic costume presentations. Many of the club members also join folk art clubs at their places of residency. Those activities help, day by day, build up a greater love of teachers and students for local traditional culture.

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