Student wins writing contest with anti-traffic letter

By Binh Minh   April 27, 2023 | 04:50 pm PT
Student wins writing contest with anti-traffic letter
Dao Khuong Duy, a 6th grader at the Huynh Tan Phat secondary school in Ben Tre Province in southern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of the school
A 6th grader in Ben Tre Province won first place at the national UPU letter writing competition, topping over a million other entries by writing about becoming a superhero to fight traffic accidents.

"I’m so happy, I never expected to win such a high prize," said Dao Khuong Duy from the Huynh Tan Phat secondary school in the southern province.

For winning the first prize in Vietnam, Duy was rewarded with VND5 million ($213).

This year’s theme for the Universal Postal Union (UPU) International Letter-Writing Competition for Young People was to imagine oneself to be a superhero, with the mission of making the world a better place for children.

Duy said he was excited upon reading the prompt, adding that he had been fascinated with the character of Superman for a long time because he "could fly and help other people."

In the letter, addressed to his parents, Duy wrote about becoming a superhero to fight with a devil-god representing traffic accidents.

He chose to name his superhero S-24/7 because it was a "simple, easy-to-remember" name.

"The letter ‘S’ is the beginning of many beautiful words, including 'superhero,' 'sacrifice' and 'safety.' 24/7 means the superhero is always ready anytime, anywhere," Duy said.

Duy’s S-24/7 superhero had many special abilities, including shapeshifting, faster-than-light travel and thought manipulation. But the most valuable thing about S-24/7 is his unconditional love for all things in the universe.

Duy’s letter ended with a note of hope.

"Whoever’s been away longs to go home, even superheroes," said Duy.

"I won’t go home until every road on planet Earth is truly safe for children," said the superhero in the letter.

"That day might be far away, but I hope you can keep the hope alive with me," the letter read.

Duy said the idea from the letter came from everyday situations he sees from his house, which is located near a national highway. Duy has seen the problems traffic causes in a neighborhood, including many horrific accidents.

"I want to tell people to abide by traffic rules and don’t drive haphazardly," Duy said, adding that he wrote the letter in 20 days. He asked his parents to proofread it.

Huynh Thi Thao Tien initially did not believe her son had won first prize.

"He grinned all the time out of happiness," she said, adding that Duy has always been fascinated with books since he was young, especially books about history and superheroes.

"He memorized Vietnamese history, to the point that he did not need to review lessons or his history classes," Tien added.

Teacher Le Hoang Phong, who manages the Huynh Tan Phat secondary school, said Duy had participated in and won prizes at several school competitions.

Duy is the first student from Ben Tre to win the UPU letter-writing contest’s first prize at the national level, Phong added.

Duy’s letter will be translated into either English or French.

The translations, along with the Vietnamese original, will be sent to the UPU office in Bern, Switzerland.

Out of the millions of letters sent from around the world, organizers will select three to win prizes.

Last year, 9th grader Nguyen Binh Nguyen from Nguyen Tri Phuong secondary school in Hanoi won first prize of the contest at the national level, and a consolation prize at the international level.

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