Tien, age twenty-six, was born into a farming family in Thai Nguyen province, about one and a half hours north of Hanoi. His father, age fifty-three, and his mother, age fifty, still live on the family farm, cultivating rice and tea for a living. His sister is married and expecting her first child in November of this year (2020).
Tien was born seriously vision impaired but still able to see well enough to attend public school, though he felt so limited in school that he thought he had no potential for success in any of his studies. Accordingly, he never took any particular interest in his classes at school even though he had some friends at school who helped him out, and would sometimes come to his rescue when others picked on him or bullied him. He complains that sometimes other students would even hit him.
During his childhood and until leaving school at the end of tenth grade Tien mostly stayed at home, consoling himself with his love of music and sometimes helping with the housework, though he was unable to assist with the farm work. It was during his tenth year in school that his vision, already quite poor, deteriorated radically, to the point that TIen is now only able to make out the vaguest of shadows and shapes and distinguish primary colors, but only in good light. Even so, Tien declines to use a white cane, insisting that he can see well enough to get around without it. When challenged, he admitted, however, that as the shadows lengthen in the afternoon he only goes out when accompanied by someone else. As visibility, for him, goes to virtually zero in the evening he simply doesn’t go out at night.
Tien is a self taught transverse bamboo flautist and loves playing for himself and sometimes for and with others. His favorite music to listen to is traditional and romantic Vietnamese music. Before coming to Omamori he had met several of the visually impaired therapists working here, at least two of whom are also flautists. We talked about the possibility of forming a flute quartet, given that there are at least three other flautists amongst our numbers.
When Tien left school he moved to Hanoi to get training in Tam Quat techniques at the Blind Association. Soon after completion of his training he found work in a studio owned by a friend. Thereafter, he returned to the Blind Association for more intensive training and found work in two more Tam Quat studios before deciding to come to Omamori for yet more training and a better opportunity.
Tien’s experiences at his former workplace were more positive than those of several of our other therapists. While he speaks of being aware of sexually inappropriate or otherwise disrespectful behavior on the part of a few clients he says he was seldom affected by this and that he enjoyed the respect and even friendship of many of the clients he worked with. Since coming to Omamori, however he has seen how profound the difference is with respect to training, professional procedures and the establishment of a calm and truly relaxing physical environment.
While Tien has just been with us since late February of 2020, his prior training and dedication to learning have meant that he was able to advance quickly under the tutelage of Nham, one of our Master Teachers, and has already begun offering our Omamori Massage to clients. It is hard to convey in words the intensity with which TIen was able to focus and listen to what I was saying during the course of our video chat. Even though his English is considerably limited I noticed that he was able to pick up more than many other new learners might, occasionally responding with a few words of English over the voice of our interpreter. His intense focus and eagerness to learn mark him as a student that any teacher would be glad to teach.
Modest, soft-spoken and quiet, Tien is a man of few words. At the same time, he is a listener and a thinker, choosing his words carefully before responding to questions. Though he tells me that he finds it difficult to express himself in words, I found the words he chose to use to be always worth listening to. I’m also inclined to believe that when he says he plans to stay at Omamori so that he can learn all that he can about not only massage techniques, but also about what it means to operate a high end spa of this quality, he will do exactly that.
He says that he doesn’t really have a dream in life as of yet. But then he goes on to say that he is determined to open his own spa, rivaling the service and professionalism of Omamori someday. I believe that Tien has the character and determination to do exactly that.