All my meals were provided at a restaurant local to the volunteer accommodation and a Cafe linked to the teaching centre, which served tasty Laos and Thai dishes, with some western options. After breakfast, usually pancakes or local fruits, I took a TukTuk or bike ride to the teaching centre. Travelling in the heat and negotiating busy traffic on unmade and waterlogged roads was quite an experience!
My timetable included 3-4 hours teaching per day with time scheduled to meet my mentor for lesson planning. GVI provided 10 hours of certificated training in Teaching English and Foreign Language (TEFL) and an introduction to Laos language. This provided me with a good foundation for teaching and gave me confidence.
Initially, I taught alongside a more experienced volunteer and felt ready to take on my own classes after 1 week or so. I appreciated that GVI recognised my specialist skills and gave me freedom to plan careers workshops. They also gave me an amazing opportunity to teach on an extra curricular first aid program, which involved staying overnight in a rural community.
In my second week, I attended daily cultural sessions facilitated by GVI, which gave me an insight into Buddhism and social norms. I later realized how much this understanding showed me how to respect the local culture and had influenced my behavior. When teaching and living in Laos, I was a respected member of the community, which was an enriching cultural experience for me.
Every evening I met up with the other volunteers to share stories and experiences of different projects. In the evenings, we often walked to the night market, strolled along the Nam Khan river, and sometimes ate a meal in a local restaurant or went to a local bar.
By the weekend, we were ready to explore Luang Prabang and enjoyed visiting the Mekong river, temples, waterfalls, botanical gardens, etc. We also took time to visit temples for chanting and meditating, and early morning alms giving.