In early 2019 I decided to leave my job in the banking industry in London and take a short career break before searching for another role. I was looking for a way to give back to the community as well as exploring a new part of the world and experiencing a different culture. I came across GVI online and it immediately struck me as a very professional organisation with clear goals and well-structured programmes. GVI was also one of the few organisations to offer short-term programmes of only 2 weeks which was perfect for my itinerary. After being persuaded by the testimonials online and the lovely local office team, I signed up to the Buddhist Novice Monks programme (only 1 month before the start date!) and set off on my travels. I was apprehensive about how much of a difference I could really make in 2 weeks but I was totally blown away by how much I got out of the programme. Within 3 days of arriving in Laos I had received sufficient TEFL training to plan and deliver lessons to my students. I taught 3 classes a day of an hour each – 10 year old buddhist novice monks in the temple classrooms, 20 year old boys following a text book curriculum and 18 year old girls who I taught English with a theme of women’s empowerment. Each class took about 45 minutes to prepare – particularly thinking up interactive exercises and games to keep the lessons interesting. All of the students were so receptive to new volunteers – intrigued to hear about where we came from and our lives back home. In turn it was an amazing insight into life in Laos and their own culture. The students were determined to learn English to achieve a better life for them and their families and it made it a total pleasure to teach them. They also gave me kind thank you notes at the end of the two weeks saying how much they had appreciated my teaching. The programme reminded me of all the things I take for granted back at home, not least access to a good education and equality between men and women. I was so inspired by the students that I left with a promise to sponsor a couple of them through university. The GVI staff in Laos could not have been more supportive and encouraging throughout the process and I had a great time with the other volunteers exploring Laos on weekends – the Kuang Si waterfalls, Pak Ou caves and of course the infamous night market. I felt moved to become an Alumni Ambassador and promote GVI to others – for anyone considering the opportunity please seize it, I can guarantee it will be two (or more) of the most fulfilling weeks of your life.