#31 - Thuy Phan

Thuy Phan

This story was originally published by our partner Women Techmakers Hanoi


Before I learnt how to write, I was already strutting away in styles in computer skribbles. I received my “Bachelor’s Degree” in Dressing GirlsGoGame and already mastered every skill sets there is for the Multiplayer Game - “BOMB IT!”. I was ravaging my brother in these battles left and right and claim my championship with pride. Needless to say, I was the original “IT kid” before it was cool.

But then came the time when I HAD indeed learn how to write.

As the teacher firmly hand the Literature neat sheet graph paper - ready to be adorned with meticulously sculpted third-grader’s cursives, my hand reached for the worn-and-torn pink ink pen, in preparation for a prose that could tug at every reader’s heartstring. Until my eyes encountered the đề bài that read as such: “Hãy miêu tả cây xoài trong vườn nhà em” - I have never seen one, or perhaps, a tree of such kind never truly caught the eyes of an inquisitive child of eight. Flustered and scared at the prospect of not turning in the perfect literary paper as usual, I embarked on a journey - to CREATE my own cây xoài.

A splatter here and there, embellished by a few many brushes of leaves enhances the youthful greenery oceans of the mango tree in my imaginary. Dangling freely are its offsprings - the mouth-watering “trái xoài”. The artist me would then proudly proclaim the painting “the most cutting-edge” - with all its part done in MICROSOFT PAINT! And it was there and then that my eternal love for Computer Science has sprouted.

If the writer’s most powerful weapon is her pencil and empty sheets, then my ride-or-die is my worn-and-torn keyboard, imprinted with many a code hurried in attempt of solving an intriguing riddle.

Sheltering far away from the madding crowd, I was as merry jolly as a deer with my Coding. A love that still ripples in my daily life today, a companionship that never failed to support and encourage me to reach out and create. Amongst the parlieu of Internetland, my aspirations and knowledge widen to places I never knew I could. I have worked on a Website Project with an all-girl team to make learning Sign Language for the Hearing-impaired and have embarked with young ladies of my school on an expedition to help children at need through our Baking Project, with all of the preparation production done on the screen-borne archives. Upon these little achievements we, together as women, supported each other and uplifted one another in times of hindrances and several many mental breakdowns along the way. It is the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Computers” that has lit a fire under me to keep striving forward with pride.

I coded my starlit airglow with CSS and rediscovered a deep-hidden love for learning Mathematics and Physics once again with its community wide-spread upon the Coding Community, equipping me with the growth mindset and the PERSEVERANCE needed to uphold, whether time of struggles or just a incredibly mind-boggling Physics homework. I found their encouragement resonating in times of sheer pressure of the exam week, I encountered their profound wisdom within times when all seem lost and gone - as it always creep up at the challenging essence of Trigonometry or Mechanical Physics.

But far from a rosy portrait, my journey to Coding and Physics has not been the path of least resistance. Distorted verdicts were made within classes and discouraging remarks dampened my naivety with their ill-intentions. I crawled into a shell that took me a staggeringly long time to get out and reclaim myself, having to shy away from opportunities to make mistakes and learn how to overcome them in these crucially transformative early years of my life. The chances to raise my hands and proudly claiming the chalk to expand my take on the Physics problem was relinquished - the very prospect of humiliation and embarrassment were sheer enough to declare defeat, and so I lowered my hand and heightened my defeat.

The lethargy and cowardice within me feared the prospect of failure and pitfall marked on these perfect streaks. I let my fear guide my path on learning and rob me of my ability to map out a problem and strive through the challenges it posed, and instead deliberately neglect and overlook them. In pursuing the effervescing heights of perfection, I neglected my small achievement along the way, the small yet rewarding “Hooray!” after solving a Geometry problem or the mistakes learnt on a Electrical Circuit homework.

Coding have helped me see my inner bravery and make mistakes while many teacher didn’t. Coding and Physics combined have steered me to a viewpoint I’ve never reached before - the Patience and Endurance to keep coming back to a troubling riddle and get a better view of it each and every time, may it be a week, a month or perhaps a year. They keep me on my toes and sustain my inherent love for learning with an everlasting and resourceful expanse of knowledge.

My third-grade “cây xoài” essay returned with flying colors, but as I progress upward to higher grades, the strange and absurdity now become far more complex: a never-seen-before 3D graphs of an Ellipsoid or an interaction between two negative-charged atoms in a Uniform Electric Field. But what has never changed is my approach: I now work and learn relentlessly to one day be able to fathom and grasp their unique characters within my lines of code and bring an intuitive description of these abstract definition to life with Python.

Today, as I take a breather under the perfumed air of the honeysuckle, as glimpses were caught of the soaring aeroplanes under my humbling balcony, I find the stamina to keep striving forward as an aspiring Computer Scientist and remain foreverly grateful for the Sisterhood made along the way and the everlasting longings for knowledge. And as a token of my gratitude, I will foreverly apt to encourage and uplift women and young girls with all of my humbling experience and efforts through handing them the toolkits through my Baking Project and teaching Physics to young girls.

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