Alumni Spotlight: Fanny Ferrillo


Fanny is a young woman from Switzerland where she studies GSI at University. She followed her passion and traveled for a year around the world, and ended up volunteering for GVI in Laos.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program for the uniqueness of the experience. Obviously, it's not every day I would have the chance meet Buddhist novices and monks. I also chose this program to improve my English speaking skills.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I wasn't enrolled in any school at that time. I planned my flight on my own but GVI helped with the rest.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Remeber to be respectful of the local culture when packing. Also, you should definitely take a bug spray, the mosquitos are (h)angry over there.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You have 2-3 lessons per day. After each class you meet with a member of the staff to plan the next day. In the evening you usually go out to eat with some volunteers. Sometimes you're out for a drink and some days you just stay in and play games or watch a movie.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was a bit stressed because I was the only French speaker at that time of the year. All of the other participants were from England or America. I was scared they wouldn't be able to understand me or I that I couldn't understand their conversations, their jokes, and their accents.

The first days were exhausting and sometimes I just wanted to speak in French with someone because I was too tired to speak in English, but I quickly begin to speak only in English. Finally, when I came back home I was exhausted to speak in French.

How are the living conditions?

I've already volunteered with another organization and it wasn't good. I'm happy I had this experience because I realized GVI was really organized and the conditions were really good. I was afraid of the sanitary and hygiene conditions, however, it all turned out to be okay. There were western toilets. Also, the rooms and bathrooms were clean. There was even a fan!