I recently spent six months volunteering with GVI Laos in Luang Prabang and, despite some initial nerves and scepticism, it was by far the most exciting and rewarding thing I have done in my life so far.
Luang Prabang is one of GVIs most established bases having been running for a number of years, as a result the links and partnerships with local institutions are extensive and all those involved are held in very high regard within the local community. The success of GVI’s Luang Prabang base can be put down to the quality training and inclusive,supportive atmosphere generated by the team of staff, headed up by the project manager whose energy, enthusiasm and dedication is as infectious as it is inspiring. The training received by all volunteers in the first week gives a comprehensive overview of the key aspects of effective EFL teaching, so even if you have no previous teaching experience you will still be equipped with a range of skills when you enter the classroom.
I could not have asked for a better experience from the team at GVI from pre-departure to the end of my project. However, it was the location and the people that I very quickly fell in love with. The Luang Prabang is situated within in the spectacular forests and mountains of northern Laos on the banks of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. Within you will find a huge number of beautifully preserved bhuddist temples, the food in Laos (as well as the coffee and the beer!) is delicious and there are seemingly hundreds of independent cafes and restaurants to choose from, especially on the stunning banks of the Mekong. Most special of all however are the locals and students. Laotians by nature are quiet and mild-mannered and I found the locals to be some of the warmest and most hospitable people I have ever met. The students were a joy to teach, so energetic and keen to learn with seemingly permenant smiles, as well as demonstrating the keen and sometimes cheeky sense of humour that Laotians are famous for!
I would recommend this programme without any hesitation. GVI is a wonderful organisation and their Laos programmes have a justifiably excellent reputation. Be prepared to work hard but you will be motivated and inspired by the dedication and gratitude shown by the students. What you get in return is an immense feeling of pride in knowing that you have contributed to something that is making a positive and lasting contribution to people’s lives.