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Whether you were raised in Vietnam or in Canada, you probably remember hearing your parents tell you this proverb while growing up. Usually they would pull the proverb out in an effort to make you study. The idea of sharpening an impervious chunk of steel to make tiny needles seems impossible since it requires days, maybe months, of meaningless, painstaking labor. The task is daunting and the proverb emphasizes the fact that if you work hard, you will eventually defeat the odds and do the impossible. The meaning is simple, hard work pays off. Be determined and tap into your willpower. If you work hard now and endure a certain amount of suffering, you will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor in time.

This proverb can be applied to all aspects of life — late nights studying for school for good marks, extra hours at work for a promotion, dedicated training sessions to improve your workout or contribute to a sports team. As they say, “nothing worth having comes easy.” If you persevere, you will achieve everything you set out to do.

This July, challenge yourself. Do something you’ve never done before. Culture wishes you an eventful summer!