Ban Van Duc is of the Ban clan of the Dao Tien branch in the northern mountainous province of Son La. Born in 1968, Duc has been engrossed with ancient books of the Dao since he was little.
He has collected 30 Dao language books and many of them date back hundreds of years. Over the past 2 decades, Duc opened 3 free classes to teach the Dao language, each class having from 40 to 80 learners.
“I want Dao people to be able to speak and write the Dao language and sing Dao songs to better understand our origin. I have opened Dao language classes in the evening. People are very eager to learn reading, writing, and singing Dao songs which inspires me to carry on my work,” he said.
Duc is self-taught through Dao ancient books. He has categorized the information and written books for teaching. After a few months, his students can read and write the Dao language fluently.
“Lecturer Ban Van Duc is very passionate about Dao culture. He has many study projects and has been honored as Emeritus Artisan. I have been his students since I was 10 years old,” said Trieu Van Hong of Chieng Yen commune.
“He is a dedicated and responsible teacher. He has taught us letters as well as how to behave and to be good persons. Many of his students have succeeded in their careers,” Hong added.
Duc can perform 63 folk singing genres of the Dao and he teaches them to many people.
“Teacher Duc is very enthusiastic. We’ll never abandon our traditional culture. I attended a call-and-response singing class on Saturday evening with about 40 participants. Duc taught us carefully. We are grateful for his devotion to preserve Dao culture,” said Tang Quoc Khanh of Tan Lap commune.
He has taught the Dao language to Dao communities in other provinces. The Center for Sustainable Development of Mountainous Regions was established in 2012 with members from a number of northern and central provinces.
Duc was elected a member of the Center’s Management Board.
“I will try harder to teach the Dao language to Dao people and anyone who wants to sing Dao songs. The authority supports me to open more classes. I hope they will recognize Dao language project and issue certificates for the learners,” said Duc.
Luong Van Hung, Secretary of Van Ho commune’s Party Committee, said Dao culture has been well preserved and the result is party due to Duc’s contribution.
“Duc has profound knowledge of Dao culture and devoted his effort to preserving it. He is very enthusiastic even though he is not paid. We hope people of other ethnic groups will also try to preserve and promote their cultures, languages, and traditions,” he said.
The State President awarded Ban Van Duc the title Emeritus Artisan, an honorable achievement to motivate him to continue preserving Dao culture.