A happy Tet with Vietnamese godmother

Lieutenant Colonel Chanpheng, Head of the Department of International News of the Lao People’s Army Newspaper, is our interpreter on the trip. She is so kind and considerate both at work and in life. Chanpheng said that she was sent to Vietnam to study at T1 School when she was ten years old. She was among eight students from Naoum Village, Kham district, Xiengkhuang province, who were studying in Vietnam at that time. As she remembered, they had to walk for a month to reach the borderline of Vietnam and then continued traveling to Thanh Thuy district, Vinh Phu province (Phu Tho province now), where the Lao Boarding School (coded T1) was located.

Major General Siphon Chansomvong (third from right), Colonel Sithar Vixay (first, right), and Lieutenant Colonel Chanpheng (second from left) and PAN's reporters

In the first two years, she stayed at the school. However, all teachers and students of her school had to be evacuated to local houses to avoid U.S. bombing. She recalled, “Vietnam was in wartime and faced economic difficulties, but local families warmly welcomed me and other Lao students and treated us kindly. Each family accommodated several students on average. The Vietnamese families loved and treated us like their relatives. We could feel family love of our Vietnamese parents and brothers.”

In 1972, Chanpheng and her friends enjoyed the first Tet with their Vietnamese family. Staying with her Vietnamese mother Dinh’s family were a Vietnamese teacher named Trai, and two other Lao students. On the last days of the lunar year, they watched mother Dinh make Chung cakes, then cooked the cakes and they enjoyed the Lunar New Year’s Eve together. She said she cannot forget the warmth from the fire, the atmosphere of family reunion and the smell of Chung cakes. Especially, the first meal on the first morning of the Lunar New Year was her unforgettable memory. After that Tet, she and friends returned to the school, but still visiting mother Dinh sometimes.

In 1979, she graduated from the high school and returned to Laos, bringing along numerous memories about the Vietnamese people and country.

Colonel Beemua Faidayiacha, Deputy General Director of Star Telecom Company, a joint venture group between the Vietnam Military Industry - Telecoms Group (Viettel) and the Lao Asia Telecom, is also T1 School’s former student. Faidayiacha’s father was a revolutionary, who died at the Plain of Jars in Xiengkhuang province. Two years after his father’s death, Beemua Faidayiacha went to School T1.

During the evacuation, Beemua Faidayiacha and another Lao student stayed with a Vietnamese family. He said that his godparents have three children. The eldest brother was of the same age as him while the youngest sister was only three or four. The godmother took care of them like her own children. Forty years later, he was able to return to Phuong Dao village in Dao Xa commune, Thanh Thuy district to find his godmother. However, she had passed away and her children had moved to other places to live. He could never meet his godmother again, but he still wanted to come back one day to find her daughter.

This Tet, see you in Hanoi!

Colonel Sithar Vixay, Commander of the Vientiane Capital Military Command said so when talking to the visiting delegation of Vietnam’s PAN.

As he told us, the Vientiane Capital Military Command and the Hanoi Capital Military Command had a close relationship. Especially, the two units have twinned since 2005.

Major General Siphon Chansomvong, Political Commissar of the Vientiane Capital Military Command, still remembered his latest visit to Hanoi on the last day of the Lunar Year 2017. His family and other friends could not forget the Tet atmosphere during their trip. Each family they visited has an ancestor altar with traditional offerings for Tet. They also had a chance to watch fireworks show at Hoan Kiem Lake on the Lunar New Year’s Eve and visit several friends’ families.

Colonel Sithar Vixay revealed that he is going to be posted to Vietnam, so he will celebrate the 2020 Tet with us. He promised to call us when he is in Hanoi.

We bade farewell to our Lao friends and left the peaceful country when the Tet Festival 2019 is coming in Vietnam. We hope to meet again Colonel Sithar Vixay, Colonel Beemua Faidayiacha, and Lieutenant Colonel Chanphen.

Translated by Trung Thanh