The story of ông Bưu

A very personal candidate to Make a Wish 2015


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the passing away of ông Bưu. Born in 1905, he was the second son of a rural family of Northern Vietnam, in Hà Tây province (now part of Hà Nôi). After he married the daughter of a famous family of vietnamese poets from the Chua Thây village, his mother sold half of their lands to afford him a boat trip to France, so that he could study chemistry in Marseille. Back in Vietnam, he worked as an engineer to contribute to Vietnam's independence and development, as much as he could. In particular, he founded, with a few of his scientific friends, the Vietnamese Association of Science and Technology, where he was Chief Editor of the only significant scientific review in vietnamese language, aptly named "Tập San Khoa Học Kỹ Thuật", from 1957 until 1973.

Actually, ông Bưu had many many projects in his life. He produced vinegar, washing powder, wrote a diet book, worked for governments, and much more. It's not overstated to say he spiritually incepted Officience, raising his children, then his grandchildren, into love and affection for technology, France, Vietnam, globalization, sharing knowledge, social responsibility. But his contribution was not only spiritual, as the story doesn’t end here.

In 2007, Officience was just a 1-year old baby, and with anh Phong we were looking for a new building to expand. Quang Tuân, our Office manager, fell in love for a private place with a garden in front, and two big trees. When we visited, handing over my business card to the landlord (a 70+ years old retired math professor), he read my name and asked :

- Hà Dương Đức ... Hà Dương ... hmmm ... do you know Hà Dương Bưu ?

- Yes, it's my grandfather

- Oh, I knew him ! His brother was a good friend of my father-in-law ! I even had to pick him up (the brother) at the police station, when they both got caught for playing cards during Têt in 1966. Here look, I still have the receipt for that fine !

He then made a short break, thoughtful. He stared at me very seriously, putting his hand on my shoulder, and summoned :

- Now, you shall not dishonor his memory.

A few days after the visit, we met his daughter to discuss our price offer. She told us : “We don’t know why, we have many offers higher than yours, but our father said we must sign with you..”. 12 years after passing away, in 2007, ông Bưu’s spirit and reputation reached over to that small house in Nguyễn Trọng Tuyển street, to help further Officience dream to become true. And my commitment to our Causes went to another stage.

We are now in 2015. After some research, my uncle Cu found at Stanford library’s archive the (almost) complete collection of “Tập San Khoa Học Kỹ Thuật”, in pdf image format. His wish is that these documents can be OCR’ed, at least the summary tables, for a release before the 20th anniversary celebration that will take place on August 8th 2015. I wonder if that could be done...