To remember brothers Félicien Huỳnh Công Lương, Edmond Nguyễn Văn Công,
Bonnard Hồ Đình Bá and other brothers and classmates who unfortunately passed away…

Everything comes and goes away,
Only memory stays…

Nguyễn Hồng Phúc - Montréal, Canada
(Taberd 12B2 School Year of 72-73)

Lasalle Taberd Saigon which is not a usual name for students today but was synonym of “preparing study abroad after high school”. The school is situated in the heart of the bustling city of Saigon, at 53 Nguyen Du’s street. The name of this school represents “the confidence” as graduate students being ready to go abroad for continuing their universities.
I left Hoàng Diệu High School in the Fiery red summer 72 after the mobilization order was issued for all high school male students born before 1955. Most of students of this class must go to the military service obeying the new national order.
Some of us, including myself preferred to choose other alternative of not going to military service. I had 2 months to prepare the National Baccalaureate Part 1 examination. It was very tough to absorb a full-year program in two months. I went to Saigon looking for best professors for baccalaureate examination preparation.
I remembered I ought to write Baccalaureate examination in Vính Long city in 3 days. My father and my older brother went back and forth from Soc Trang to Vĩnh Long to follow the progression of my exam. Since this exam was a key success factor of my future, they did not mind to devote their time to support me during 3-days examination. I passed this Baccalaureate with good marks “Very Good”.
My older brother always had an ambition to go abroad for studying that was why he always tried to push me study hard to get a good result in 2nd baccalaureate exam. After the Baccalaureate 1st party, he convinced me to enroll my Terminal class in Taberd Saigon where most of high school graduates here went abroad to continue their universities.
In July 1972 my brother and I came to see brother Edmond Nguyễn Văn Công of Taberd Saigon to enroll the grade 12B2 and brother Edmond advised that I had to satisfy 3 conditions in order to be admitted to this catholic private school – first of all, to earn a minimum mark of “Very Good” in Bacc 1, secondly a recommendation letter from the principal of Lasan Khánh Hưng – Brother Gabriel Nguyễn Đăng Quang for good conduct and a Note bulletin for good grade 11 results. I wondered myself that my chance to be admitted to this school was very, very slim because I just satisfied the first one and how could I get the recommendation letter and the Note bulletin since I already skipped that grade. I had a week to come back with a complete file if I wanted to enroll to this school. Afterwards I suggested to my brother “why don’t we try to enroll in the public school like Petrus Ky, etc… as you know that my chance to enroll this school is very slim?”.
We came back to Soc Trang town. I came to see professor Phan văn Nhiều who was my former Math professor of grade 10B1 in Hoang-Dieu high School. I explained to him my plan and he understood. He was convinced that I was always a good student and deserved for that achievement. He told me to come back tomorrow for the letter.
I then went home from Lasan Khánh Hưng. I met my brother at home and he joyfully told me “we have the Note bulletin, don’t worry”. I was really surprised because of his skill to correct the grade 10B1 to 11B1, it was a matter of changing the number from 0 to 1.
I could not describe my luck at that time. Everything went so well and was beyond my expectation.
The week after that, I went to Lasalle Taberd and presented a complete application file for the enrolment to brother Edmond. He looked at the file and said “It’s very good and complete”. I was then accepted and I finally asked brother Edmond “Sir, since I am not catholic I would like to ask the school the exemption of religious ceremony in the class”. He replied “Although this school is a private catholic school but we accepted non-catholic students as well. Therefore you will be exempted all religious procedure in class but you has to follow all existing rules in place as other students”. I therefore pursued the class 12B2 in this school.
Back to school on the first day, I was excited because I had a chance to wear new black pant, white shirt with logo Taberd on it and new shoes. I could not describe my feeling in words when standing in front of Taberd Saigon’ school gate. New classmates like Nguyễn Ngọc Lâm, Trần Quang Nam, Lý Thanh Bình, Nguyễn Quang Thành, etc…came to give me help the first day because they looked at me as a new student coming from a little town. Everything was new for me – new school, new classmates, new professors and particularly new academic system…
Most of the courses were assumed by brothers excepting mathematics, geography, natural science and philosophy by other professors who came from Chu van An’s school.
After the first semester exam, my name appeared in the honors list  for “good conduct” (cong dan) course/material only.
Brother Edmond who taught French course and was also our tutor was very strict in school. In the class he discussed other subject outside the scope of work (cours de langue 2) and taught a few French words or grammars every session, two sessions of 3-hour per week. Most of the time he talked about politics, weather and news…all in french. After the first semester I started being worried about this french course because he just covered few chapters of the book. However we realized that even learning few french words and grammars but we understood very well every word. In the end we learned quite a lot of french material thoroughly…
Brother Bonnard Hồ Đình Bá, originated from the Center of VietNam who taught English in Taberd. He invited an American lady (Marian Thompson!) to the class to discuss various subjects in English. After every topic, the American lady asked the student a question or remark and expected a volunteer to answer. I remembered one time she asked the same question and no one raised hand for a while. Therefore brother Bonnard had to point out to my classmate in row 2 next to me. My classmate did not know the answer/comment to the question he then he benched down, the brother’s finger pointed it out automatically to the following classmate in row 3. That student did not know neither the answer then he shook his head. Fortunately another student in the corner who knew better English finally raised his hand to give comments. After the lady walked out of the class, brother Bonnard told the class “you all are nuts, all of you want to go abroad for attending universities but you could not answer one question?  How shameful you are! I met brother Bonnard in Montreal Catholic school in summer 1975 and I reminded him that story and he replied with a little smile “thank to my comments, they really helped you all comfortably study abroad after high school, right!”. Few years later he then moved and lived in Maryland, USA. He passed away in 1998.
During my study in Taberd I felt a fierce competition among students coming from different regions and famous high schools such as Pétrus Ký, Chu Văn An, Vỏ Trường Toản, Gia Long, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Fraternity, Marie-Curie, etc…
Students from the famous school in Saigon these days had a lot of motivation to study very hard. They all wanted to go abroad to attend their universities as there were many scholarships granted for high achieving students passing Baccalaureate II.
I thought that people who are born have the same level of intelligence. When they reach adulthood if there is a difference in talent and success due to the circumstances and competitive environment where they live and absorb education and learning experience in life.
I wrote Baccalaureate Part 2 in summer 1973 with score “Good” and an excellent mark of french course 15/20 which exceeded largely the requirement of Ministry of Education to pursue study abroad. Before packing and preparing luggage for Canada, I applied and passed the entrance examination for Saigon High Technology University. I hesitated between taking an adventure by going to Canada or a peaceful life in Vietnam with a girlfriend waiting for me in my hometown Soctrang.
My parents tried to convince me going abroad because there would be no hope for me to get advanced career with diploma earned in Vietnam since my family did not have a strong position and privilege in this society. Therefore my parents tried to provide minimal funds for me to leave Viet Nam in November 1973, and I assumed the rest of my financial support by myself in Canada…It was the beginning of my independent life…
Arriving Canada in December 1, 1973 I felt the competition tougher/fiercer because of the presence of other foreign students from other countries such as Chinese, French, American, Spanish, Italian, Philippine, Japanese, Egyptian, Lebanese, South American, African, etc… Since my mother tongue was not English neither French my studies were more or less affected while other French program students of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marie-Curie and Fraternité enjoyed and succeeded well in their studies. After 4 year of Engineering school I finally obtained the engineering degree and started working in different companies – aircraft, cement manufacturing and telecom.
Since I grew up in a small town and in an average family, I always dreamed to get a much better life for my family and for my country, I decided afterwards to pursue the Master of Business Administration while working full time. I obtained finally an MBA degree in Finance and pursued again the Master of Mechanical Engineering. With a lonely life and no relatives in this country, I decided to get married shortly after my engineering graduation. The busy life in Canada with a small family makes me disconnect with the former comrades of Taberd.
In a recent trip back to Viet Nam I found an Achievement Year Book (Palmares) of Lasalle Taberd showing all activities during school year 72-73. It had also shown honored students and pictures of everything from students to teaching staff-professors and brothers, picnic and musical activities, graduation ceremony, school facilities, etc…
Despite leaving 38 years from Taberd, the competition spirit among comrade is still unforgettable in my memory. Life changed with time, ups and downs, rich and poor, but my mind is still vivid with the old school time where my youth was existed.
In the occasion of meeting of former classmates of Taberd in China town - Nguyễn Ngọc Thuần, Nguyễn Xuân Vũ, Tăng Hùng, Việt and Đạo last week reminded me of all these souvenirs and brought me back to the old time of 1972. It also provided me an inspiration to write down this Memoir.
Reminding me also of all those brothers and professors who tirelessly taught students how to learn life lessons and prepared them for a brighter future.
Some of those professors and brothers as well as former comrades unfortunately passed away and the rest of us are getting older.
Those former students despite the fact that they are living in all corners of the world, will never forget their old Taberd school.

Through this writing we would like to thank all Taberd’s brothers and professors who provided us an excellent education.

Taberd Saigon is a school that had the deepest impression of my school years because this is the place where I felt the most academic competitive environment in my life and also it had created a basic, but very important knowledge for me in preparation for university in Canada in 1973. How I can forget the last day of school that we had to go to Taberd school yard to get the year book (palmares) and note bulletin as well as to enjoy the musical performance during graduation ceremony. I tried getting through the crowd leading to the yard in order to see former Taberd classmates to perform graduation ceremony event like Joe Marcel, Trường Kỳ and the band Tùng Giang, etc... Now brothers Edmond Nguyễn Văn Công, Bonnard Hồ Đình Bá, SH Nguyễn Ngọc Lộ, the brother principal Félicien Huỳnh Công Lương (brother principal passed away on March 2-2010 at the age of 91), teachers Lê Mậu Thống, Trương Đình Tấn, Nguyễn Văn Đàng and Đặng Đức Kim no longer teach here anymore. Where are they living now, those brothers and teachers! Are they still healthy and happily living in the retirement?
Today the teaching staff of Taberd Saigon is completely dissolved after 1975. Every time when I come back and stand in front of the main gate of Lasalle Taberd Saigon, I feel very strange as my heart saddened because the name Lasalle Taberd Saigon was replaced with a big and strange banner "Specialized Public High School Tran Dai Nghia."
Hopefully someday I return to same old place again "Lasan Taberd Saigon" and still could see all brothers and professors, old classmates and the old school with yellow walls. We would see students of the next generation in class listening to same old teachers and brothers who will be teaching French and English in the school where I already left 38 years ago…

Nguyễn Hồng Phúc
(Taberd Class 12B2 - School Year of 72-73)
Edited by Ngô Thị Xuân Nga – (TH Sa-Đéc 67-74)
Mục lục
Cập nhật 12-10-2012