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Fullname: Phạm Quốc Định
School: Hà Nội - Amsterdam
Grad Year 2005
The most respectable people in my life
Virtually, people do not see how much they love each other until they are apart. It was my parents’ business that makes one of them sometimes live far away from family. Having stepped on the age 17, I soon realized how much they mean to me in times like that.
Undoubtedly, the most influential and respectable people in my life have been my mom and dad. This means there is no one of them that I adore, love or respect more. And, because I cannot describe both of them in this writing work, so I choose my dad this time!
It was the longest time my dad lives far away from home. Ironically, through this my dad has given me a chance to face reality head-on. Before (since my middle time in secondary school), my relationship with him was warm, but fraught with tension. He never seemed satisfied with what I did and reprimanded me for every wrong step I took. He had strong opinions about my hairstyle, clothes, friends, and - above everything else - my academic performance. When I was not sitting at my desk in my room, he invariably asked me why I had nothing to do and told me I should not procrastinate. He stressed that if I missed my teenage years of studying, I would regret it later. He didn't like me going out with my friends, so I often ended up staying at home - I was never allowed to sleep over at other students' homes. All I had to do since then is going to school and coming back home. I was confused by my parents' overprotective attitude, because they emphasized independence yet never actually gave me a chance to be independent.
In terms of career, my dad often lectured me about which ones are acceptable and which are not. He worried incessantly about whether I would ever get into university, and often made me feel as if he would never accept my own choices. Rather than standing up for myself, I simply assumed that if I studied hard, he would no longer be disappointed in me. And although I tried hard, I never seemed to get it quite right; he always found fault with something. As if that weren't enough, he frequently compared me to my over-achieving older cousin, asking me why I couldn't be more like him. I must admit that at times I even questioned whether my dad really loved me, and used to keep the thought that he may be a very good human being, but definitely not a good father at all! After all, he never expressed admiration for what I did, and my attempts to impress him were always in vain.
In retrospect, I don't think I fully understood what he was trying to tell me. Those days, when I came home to an empty house, it stroked me just how dependent on my parents' care and support I had been so far. Now that my dad was far away abroad for business and my mom was always working, I saw that I must develop the strength to stand alone one day. And, for the very first time, I realized that this is exactly what my dad was trying to make me see. I understood that he had a big heart, even though he didn't always let it show; he was trying to steer me in the right direction, emphasizing the need to develop independence and personal strength. He was trying to help me see the world with my own eyes, to make my own judgments and decide for myself what I would eventually become. Before, I took all of his advice the wrong way. I should not have worried so much about living up to my parent's expectations; their only expectation of me, after all, is that I be myself. My dad often said that "You can take the horse to the river, but you cannot make it drink the water".
In mapping out my path to achieving my independence, I know that education will allow me to build on the foundations with which my parents have provided me. My academic interests are still quite broad, but whereas I was once frustrated by my lack of direction, I am now excited at the prospect of exploring several fields before focusing on a particular area.
Strangely, dealing with my father's absence has made me believe that I can tackle just about any challenge. Most importantly, I am more enthusiastic about my education than ever before. In embarking on my high school career, I will be carrying with me my father's last gift and greatest legacy: a new desire to live in the present and the confidence to handle whatever the future might bring. Nevertheless, my parents’ strength and courage will remand a constant source of inspiration to me, I feel confident to greet the future with a resolute sense of hope and optimism.
By Dinh Pham (2004)
11A2, Hanoi-Amsterdam High School
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