WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Vietnamese IT expert to the rescue

Father Kevin Neal

May 2014

Opinion

Fr Kevin Neal

The week was starting to look good. Even our broadband supplier had given uninterrupted service for weeks without being struck out by peculiar enemies from some faraway place and I had remembered most of the things I was meant to do. Life was good.

I had a lovely printer that was more than 10 years old. I paid a lot of money for it because it had an attachment for converting my many slides to photos. Then it started showing signs of age and replacement parts were becoming harder to find. With all this mind, I decided to buy a new printer and, because I didn’t need to copy slides, the cheapest printer on the market would do.

The cheapie I bought lasted nearly a year before needing new ink. When I came to replenish the ink supply, I realised that the cartridge cost more than the printer and lasted just three weeks. So I would have to buy a decent printer but I don’t have the smarts to install it anymore – another legacy of the stroke.

A Vietnamese student, here to study English in preparation for priestly studies in the seminary was briefly staying in our house. In Viet Nam he studied computing. He left his family and friends behind as well as his language. The first year of study in Aotearoa New Zealand is devoted to learning the predominant language, English. When students have mastered the language, the seminary studies can start. He will have to learn more than a smattering of te reo Maori, too – a huge linguistic ask!

I can warm a little to that. I started out as a De La Salle brother in the late 1960s in Australia and, when it came to teacher training, a senior brother whispered in my ear ‘these children have the right to be taught in their own language, the Australian language’. He wasn’t being smart. The differences between our two versions of English were relatively small but they took quite an effort. Imagine then, learning two entirely new languages as the Vietnamese are doing. I had only to learn a few nouns, verbs and minor pronunciations.

Nearly 50 years after doing my religious training, I was fortunate because this Vietnamese man about to start his seminary training, was able to install a wonderful new printer in a matter of minutes. The printer needs no cord to connect it with the computer and will print from the iPad as well. Excellent!