Alumni Spotlight: Francesca Bianchi


Francesca is an Italian student of Political Science and International Relations in Rome, Italy.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose IVHQ as suggested by a Portuguese friend who went on the same program in Bali. I chose the childcare program because I reckoned that helping kids build up their English skills is really important for their future. Also, the children are really sweet and cute!

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

They helped by giving me a lot of information about the necessary documents as well as the kind of clothes I had to bring. They also had been really efficient in answering my e-mails. They organized my pick-up from the airport of Ventiane to the accommodation. On my own, I had to organize the documents, the vaccinations, and the flights.

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

My suggestion is to be open to everything Laos has to offer – kind and smiling people, tasty food, amazing green landscapes, and the calm and the willingness of enjoying life. It's a third world country full of happy people who appreciate the little things. Be spontaneous, and the kids will adore you. Teach them with fun as they are always enthusiastic to learn something new. Let go, and don't be afraid of being judged because the volunteers are going to look forward to enjoy time with you and to know a bit of your story.

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

During the week, you have a fixed timetable. Every morning is a good morning because you are welcomed by the kids once you arrive at school. I always had fun in my class, playing games and thinking of different activities. Preparing the activities doesn't take a lot of time; I used to do it every day after dinner (and dinner was at 5 PM so I had the time to prepare lesson and to chill). Once a week, there's a trip in the afternoon to Ventiane where you can have dinner with the other volunteers. In the weekend, there's the possibility to organize trips around the country with them.

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 had just two fears: the one and a half-hour of lesson that we were supposed to prepare (I had no experience with kids and teaching!) and the bugs. However, after half a day of the program, the first fear was gone because my heart just melted seeing all the children’s cute faces; teaching became really spontaneous, thanks to the other volunteers.

There were bugs and many other insects, but I was overwhelmed by so many amazing things and people that I didn't care that much about those bugs anymore. This experience had been so incredible that I also dealt with insects!

Will I have to do most things on my own?

If you are thinking of travelling on your own, don't be scared. You're not going to be alone except for your last flight. You are going to share a wonderful experience with the helpful staff and people who will become your friends. I'm of the view that the experiences that you start on your own are the ones that enrich you the most. If you have no experience, don't worry. There’s always a first time for everyone!