Staff Spotlight: Leyla Isin

GVI Laos Program Manager


Leyla is from Canberra, Australia. After completing her degree in International Relations from the Australia National University, volunteering with GVI in Kenya and gaining a TESOL certification, Leyla joined the GVI team in July 2015. Leyla is a passionate person with diverse interests; she has been playing the piano since age 6, is moderately fluent in French and is currently studying Lao. She loves running and doing yoga and has fallen in love with Laos where she currently resides.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Living and studying (and exploring!) in Lyon, France, on a semester university exchange.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working with GVI has changed me forever. On a professional level, I have developed and enhanced essential skills for the future and have been part of a passionate international team of inspiring people.

On a personal level, I've gained new perspectives. I've met the most kind and generous community and have been lucky enough to participate in traditional ceremonies.

I've met volunteers from all over the world and visited parts of the world I never thought I would. But most importantly i've had the opportunity to help increase students' access to education in Laos and these students are the most dedicated, motivated, appreciative, kind-hearted students I've ever met!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Our students are incredible. Notably are the Lao students who finish their studies and take on Translator, National Scholarship Program, or Community Liaison positions with GVI. Since July 2015, we have had 5 students join our staff team. It is so great to see how dedicated they are to developing new skills, enhancing their teaching skills and devoting their time to helping us to help Lao students; giving back to their community by passing on the skills they have learned to the next generation, while gaining invaluable experience in the process!

We also have many returning volunteers and even more who extend their time on the the project, including one who recently (originally staying for 6 weeks) extended 5 times, staying an additional 14 weeks!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose the GVI Laos Women's Empowerment Project. I believe that females' access to education is paramount for individual self-determination, employment opportunities and for broader community and international development.

The program currently focuses on providing access to various aspects of education including English language, health, life skills and sponsorships, that also help build confidence and opportunities for Lao females in the process. This is something I am extremely passionate about.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

GVI's work as a non-political, non-religious organisation that runs bottom-up, inclusive projects what I find important and unique. After volunteering for 6 weeks with GVI in Kenya, I knew I wanted to make a long- term commitment to the organization and I was lucky enough to get the chance to do so!

Every day, I am reminded in new ways how the success and impact of our project depends greatly on the inclusion of the local community; our projects make a greater sustainable difference and we are able to make a more meaningful contribution when our actions are done in collaboration with local partner individuals and organizations.

GVI's work and relationships with our local partners and the wider GVI family that we have here are things that I am proud to be a part of; past and present students, translators, staff, former and present volunteers, loyal donors, local partner individuals, organizations and communities.

It is when our projects are driven by the cooperation of passionate individuals, regardless of nationality (both foreigners and locals) that our impact is sustainable, real and meaningful. I am humbled to be involved in such a project and community.