17 November 2006

Tuổi Trẻ

To maintain and encourage the use of Vietnamese literature and culture, VAYO periodically published the magazine Tuổi Trẻ, which means Young Age in Vietnamese. The articles were mostly written by VAYO members and some were translated from English sources. I cannot recall if the children who learned Vietnamese through VAYO contributed or not. What I do remember is the tedious process involved in getting a set of pages that consist of the magazine, usually the Lunar New Year edition, ready for photocopying. Probably all the articles were submitted handwritten so the first thing to do was to type them into the computer. In the beginning, we didn't even have Vietnamese input software and had to add the diacritical marks after printing out the articles. The arrival of VNI Ta^n Ky` was a welcomed relief. Desktop Publishing, or DTP for short, was already well-known back then, the early 1990s, but because we didn't want to make the most of the freely available manual labor, or perhaps we didn't have the DTP software, we produced the magazine one page at a time. I think each page was made from Microsoft Word, with illustrations either pasted on or drawn directly onto the page AFTER the page came out of the laser printing. No fancy online page layout here. Again, because I'm not skilled enough with the Vietnamese language to contribute articles, I helped out with the typing and illustrating. The picture above is from the cover of the 1993 VAYO Tuổi Trẻ magazine, some year of the chicken. When I first saw it again today, I recognized my own drawing style and handwriting, but had no recollection that I drew it. It took me a few additional minutes to locate my signature. The moniker of Qaptain Qwerty hadn't been invented back in 1993, or at least it wasn't used for this particular picture. I think I drew it based on some greeting card or similar source. Likewise, many pictures in the magazine were "borrowed" from other source, usually straight classic cut-and-paste.

So the work was tedious but we had the manpower, or woman-power, in some cases. It's amazing how much could be accomplished when ones didn't have family responsibilities - not that family responsibility is a bad thing! We would stay at H's office late at night, I think one time even overnight, to help ourselves to his office's equipments such as photocopiers, laser printers, and of course computers. From time to time, while rummaging through my worldly possession, I would re-read some of the articles in Tuổi Trẻ and get a smile out of them.

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