‘Be their Santa Claus!’ Vietnamese teen’s appeal wins a world prize

By Duong Tam, Sen   October 12, 2018 | 08:00 am GMT+7
‘Be their Santa Claus!’ Vietnamese teen’s appeal wins a world prize
Nguyen Thi Bach Duong has won bronze medal at the international UPU Letter Writing Contest 2018. Photo by Duong Tam

A heartfelt plea from a 14-year-old Vietnamese student to fulfill children’s aspirations has won third place in a letter-writing contest.

Nguyen Thi Bach Duong won the bronze medal at the United Postal Union’s (UPU) International Letter-writing Competition with a message for adults, calling on them to become a Santa Claus for children.

The contest’s theme for 2018 was the question: “Imagine you are a letter traveling through time. What message do you wish to convey to your readers?”

Duong had to go through a tough selection process at the national level for her letter to be submitted to the UPU’s international bureau.

After going through 60 letters submitted from around the world, the contest organizers announced last Tuesday that the first prize has been won by Chara Phoka, 13 years old, from the Republic of Cyprus, followed by José Duarte, 10, from Portugal, and Duong.

Duong is a 14-year-old student of the Nguyen Trai SecondarySchool in Hai Duong Province in northern Vietnam. Her letter was inspired by the question an eight-year-old reader posed to U.S.-based newspaper The Sun: ‘Is Santa real?”

Responding to that question, Duong’s letter makes an impassioned plea that Santa becomes real.

Roughly translated*, it says: "Despite hunger, suffering and loss, children don’t stop dreaming. The dreams of children speak to us about their soul, pure as crystal, against the background of disability and misery.

“The dream of any child is beautiful and deserves equal respect. And Santa Claus is a miracle that helps them fulfill dreams that adults cannot help with. He is someone unfortunate kids lean on. So please do not take him away from them.”

Duong’s letter ends with a compassionate appeal: "No matter who you are, where you are, and what your status is, if you are with a kid, be their Santa Claus!"

At the national awards ceremony held in May, the jury evaluated Duong’s appeal as natural, creative and rich in humanity. They said she had an emotionally expressive writing style and that her words were well visualized.

Duong’s is the fourth bronze medal that Vietnam has won at the UPU Letter-Writing Competition, the previous occasions being in 1993, 1999 and 2004.

Duong is also the second student of the Nguyen Trai school who has won a prize at this contest. Her senior, Nguyen Thu Trang, won the gold medal at the 45th edition in 2016.

In total, Vietnam has won 14 prizes at this contest: two gold, one silver and four bronze medals; and seven fourth prizes.

*(The official translation in English and French sent to UPU’s office in Switzerland for the international competition is not yet available on the union’s website.)

 
 
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