She Skypes, uses Facebook, and has spent her life fighting stereotypes with her hunger for learning new things.
“The greatest enemy of a person’s life is stupidity”. At the age of 97, Le Thi is connecting with the world, one Facebook status at a time. Read more about how she’s been defying expectations all her life, with her hunger for learning.”
At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss Le Thi as just another raddled old woman. At 97, she has lost almost all her teeth and a severe hunchback impedes her movement. She spends most of her time lying in bed on her side, slowly chewing betel nuts.
But the almost-centenarian perks up the moment she is asked about her passion for writing, painting and, above all, learning.
She swiftly rocks herself upright, a glint in her eyes and a grin that stretches from ear to ear, to talk about life in French-colonised Vietnam over half a century ago; Skyping with her grandson who lives in Moscow; and writing a book at the age of 87.
“If there are 10 things I don’t know, I want to learn however much I can,” she said. “I used to be an illiterate child, you know.
It is this burning curiosity and passion for knowledge that may have made Le Thi the most internet-savvy grandma in Vietnam.
She gets her daily news from Google and Yahoo. She actively updates her Facebook page, and keeps in touch with family and friends this way and via Skype.
Le Thi first learned to use the computer in 2007 because she had been writing a book about her own life but found it hard to continue with pen and paper. “My hands were shaky, and I couldn’t see things clearly,” she said.
Her struggle prompted her grandchildren to get her a laptop and teach her to type. Three years later in 2010, she launched her 600-page autobiography,
Her digital foray has earned her many young fans who have given her nicknames like “Lady Teen” and “Forever Young”.
“Though I am almost 100 years old, my soul is 20,” said Le Thi with a toothless grin.
WATCH: Defying expectations of age and gender (2:46)
(Originally appeared at CNA, click here for more)