GVI: Volunteer in Laos

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About

In the mountainous city of Luang Prabang, once known as the royal city of Laos, you can choose a focus in childhood development, teaching, or health and wellbeing. Each program is conducted in collaboration with local communities, GVI partners and participants, and aim to reach short, mid, and long-term goals that are measured against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In your free time, travel among hillside valleys to visit traditional villages, or experience the cascading levels of Kuang Si waterfall. This is an opportunity to contribute towards meaningful sustainable initiatives, while surrounded by the connecting Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, forest lands, and mountains. Form connections with local community members, learning about their linguistics and culture.

Highlights
  • Stay and volunteer in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, learning about culture, linguistics, and the history of Laos.
  • Assist with initiatives that work towards reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Learn ethical and responsible ways to travel and volunteer abroad, collaborating to make a meaningful impact in sustainable development.
  • Enhance your skills with practical and immersive experiences.
  • Work alongside other like-minded international volunteers.

GVI global programs are open!

We're thrilled to announce that nine of our global locations are now open, including Greece, Thailand, Nepal, Seychelles, South Africa, Costa Rica and Mexico. We're also taking bookings for our Thailand, Chiang Mai, Lao and Peru locations for 2021. Stay tuned for more locations coming your way soon, including a new location addition in the Canary Islands.

Popular Programs

Monks studying in Loas

Teach English to Buddhist novice monks and local youth in the age-old city of Luang Prabang. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site it holds an intricate history which merges religious, and architectural heritage. GVI is committed to upholding the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and maintains a strict Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy to ensure ethical best practices are in place.

Volunteers teaching in Loas

Teach practical and conversational English classes, while also conducting life-skills workshops to support local women’s empowerment initiatives. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the diversity of Lao culture and improve your practical teaching skills. You’ll be supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality.

Volunteer working with children Laos

GVI maintains a strict Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy to ensure ethical best practices are in place. Volunteer responsibly to teach English to the local youth while enjoying travel adventures in your free time. You have an opportunity to experience culture, cuisine, and linguistics while in the country.

Questions & Answers

Definitely enough time to get a feeling for the country and to give back. First time, I went for 3 weeks and then returned for 6 weeks the next year.

Reviews

9.28 Rating
based on 29 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.8
  • Value 8.8
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 29
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Lea
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful time teaching English in Laos

I spend two months with GVI in Luang Prabang, Laos, volunteering as an English teacher. I felt very much welcomed and the field staff took great care of all volunteers. After a few training sessions, I jumped right into teaching. Working with the students and novice monks was a lot of fun, sometimes challenging, always rewarding. We were encouraged to get creative in our teaching and not to be afraid of making mistakes or looking funny. During my time in Luang Prabang, I learned as much from my students as they learned from me. Besides teaching, I had plenty of time to explore the city and surroundings. Laos is a beautiful country and home to kind, respectful people. I was fascinated by its nature and eager to learn about Lao culture and ethnic groups. I am very grateful for this experience and all the memories I collected.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
After my first week, I took over a class of Buddhist novice monks on my own. Like all young boys, there were a little cheeky, not paying attention very well, and all in all a challenge to deal with. I kept smiling and was trying to make the lessons fun. After some time of getting to know them, I connected better to the students, learned what worked well for them, and enjoyed working with them a lot. I will never forget the smiles on their faces.
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Lina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

3 months in Lao

Hello there,
You're probably reading this review because you want to know more about the volunteering experience or are not too sure about this experience. I hope I can ease your mind. Those 3 months were breathtaking. The students, who you have the honor to teach, are so extremely hard working. You can truly see their excitement and eagerness to learn. Teaching in this extraordinary atmosphere was easy and wonderful. I taught children starting at age 9, up to teenagers and even college students. Every class was a bit diverse and challenged me in different ways. I was scared first, because I've never taught anyone before. The staff members held a one week training course, which helped me immensely. Even after the 1 week course they were always there for you and helped you with any questions you had. With time, I got super comfortable and felt a ease standing in front of my classes and even teaching them alone (which you don't have to, if you don't want to!). You can always talk to the staff members if you're not comfortable with specific classes, if you're feeling not challenged enough or challenged too much. Even outside the class room the staff members became such good friends. With Valee, one staff member, and some Lao students we played football on the weekends. Before a game, Valee went to the market with Krishan (a Volunteer and now a very good friend of mine) to buy some football shoes, which was an impossible mission because of the shoe size. :)
You're honestly making friends for life throughout your experience there. Everyone that arrives at this magical place, has something in common from the start. Helping these amazing students with their English. Working together and spending time after class helps you to bond with everyone very quickly. I've met so many amazing, open, heart warming people in my time there.
With my 3 months I was one of the people staying the longest and even then I had the feeling it went by way too quick. Take some time. Don't come for just 2 weeks. The students have to get to know you, you have to get to know the work and people there. Stay for as long as you can, you won't regret it, I promise.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Everything is transported by motorcycles. Everything. People passed by with a chicken stuck under their armpit. Or with construction material or a cupboard. Oftentimes there are 4 people on one bike. Or litte kids at the age of 7 driving one on their own. At first it was super weird. I've never ever seen it before. After seeing it a couple of times it just became normal and one of the many things I love about this city and country.
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Krishan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best experience I have ever had!

The 2 months I spent teaching in Luang Prabang have genuinely been life-changing for me. I was nervous at the beginning - I didn't know what to expect, especially since this was my first time travelling abroad alone not forgetting about the distance. Upon pre-departure, the team was excellent they provided lots of support with documents and any queries I had regarding VISA's, money and communication throughout my journey. I was picked up by George, one of the local staff members, who was extremely welcoming. The introduction to the programme and the town was well put together and detailed. The staff were so easy to talk to. If I had any problems they were resolved promptly. I was eased into the teaching and took things at my own pace. I was allowed to do as much as I felt comfortable doing. The first week you have training sessions in the morning that prepare you for teaching the classes. It's very easy to follow even if you don't have prior teaching experience it helps immensely for the duration of the programme. The students had such a hunger to learn and were kind and welcoming too. There are certain rules to uphold but it wasn't difficult to do, I eventually got used to it especially when it came to teaching the novice monks. The local people were kind and generous, I felt like I became part of a community, I made so many friends with not just other volunteers but the locals, and students too. There were lots of places to go and visit, like the Elephant Sanctuary and Kuang Si waterfall- there was always something to do. You have weekends off to go exploring, or to relax if you wish to. I loved this experience and all the people I met and would 100% recommend it.

What was your funniest moment?
A novice monk I was teaching in Want Mano, got a little bit too excited when we were playing slap and ended up punching a hole through the board!
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Melanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best of experiences!

Everything about Luang Prabang draws volunteers into its spell. The city itself is compact, lovely and spiritual and packed with beautiful people, temples and scenery. GVI make it particularly special. I absolutely loved it!!
My experience as a volunteer - teaching English on the Women’s Empowerment programme in Laos - was the most positive time imaginable. The GVI staff are friendly, knowledgeable and supportive. Training courses during your first week prepare you for classes and the staff are always on hand to advise and direct. Students are an absolute delight. So hardworking and respectful. You can’t help but grow to love them. I taught two classes. One of young ladies - a mix of English classes and Women’s Empowerment workshops. And a class of young men and novice monks - English mostly but free to develop a Geography workshop towards the end of my stay. There is also the opportunity to teach one to one classes if you have strengths to share!!
There is ample opportunity to explore the city and further afield, take part in chanting and meditation, yoga and alms giving. The city is small, accessible, lively and fascinating.
I would recommend this programme to everyone.

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Damian
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful Buddhism, soak up the happiness and embrace a vibrant culture leaving you wanting to stay longer!

Step into another world and experience a completely new culture and you'll learn so much more about yourself that you probably thought you never would... Yet you are just in another country, with the most welcoming and kind hearted people who want to joke around and laugh with you, but most importantly they want to share their experiences with you and get to know you. But don't forget you're there to volunteer and teach! Teaching English to Novice Buddhist Monks in Luang Prabang, Laos in 2017 was my 3rd time volunteering abroad and of my international experiences the one I’ve taken the most away from. From start to finish the whole GVI team were there to assist in every way possible. Settling in during the first day was easy, everyone was so happy to be there and willing to jump right in and start planning for the weeks to come. The GVI team assist with everything for the lesson planning and organising so all the volunteers feel confident to begin class the following days. The journey to the temple on day one was full of excitement and the moment you see the Novice Monks dressed traditionally the eyes light up around the bus, I distinctly remember this day when the Novices ran over and wanted to know all about us, our names and where we were from etc. A typical day after classes at the temple led us to the library in the township where we would teach smaller classes of teenage Novice Monks, these smiling Novices were a barrel of laughs and were so much fun to teach! The evening was for classes at the Mekong English Centre, not just teaching Novice Monks but also local students wishing to learn English too. The whole experience from arrival to leaving Laos was incredible and I would go back any day. Next stop volunteering with GVI in Nepal!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Exploring the local markets during the afternoons led us to a stall where we tried local bugs... Very interesting taste!
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Alicia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What an experience!

This trip was life changing! Working every day in a school, with children who are all so deserving of this help. Each day is so rewarding, seeing the students learn over the course of the program. The volunteers as well - everyone there wants to be there to help others, same reason as you, so there is an opportunity to meet some truly inspirational people. There is also such an amazing opportunity to become immersed in the local culture, as well as learn some of the language, allowing communication with locals.

Overall, this program is an opportunity not to be missed!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun! That is the most important thing - to take advantage of every opportunity you have while there, and enjoy it!
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Manuela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning through teaching

I had the incredible opportunity to spend two months in the unique city of Luang Prabang, Laos volunteering with Gvi to teach English to young adults and novices and monks. It was such an enriching experience in so many different ways. On one hand, i was trained in TEFL and learned lots about the Lao culture and Buddhism. Spending time with young novices made me appretiate their culture and their values more than ever and the way they made me feel from being so grateful with everything I taught them was simply unforgettable. On the other hand, I could spend all my mornings, nights and weekends walking around the small city if Luang Prabang which I found so different from any other city thanks to its small buildings, calmed streets, lovely people and numerous temples all around. I really enjoyed and would totally recommen the project to anyone who likes interacting with students and helping them. It is not hard to teach, it only takes love and disposition.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I found was how much the religion is seen in their cukture and city. It is simply admirable, and it was very interesting to visit all the temples located all throughout the city.
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Mia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Experience

In being a city-bred, metropolitan, well-educated young woman, sometimes I don’t know how good I have it in Vancouver, British Columbia. So I leaned into my spiritually esoteric inner child and accepted a humanitarian mission abroad to teach English to the monks in Luang Prabang, the beautiful capital of Laos, a UNESCO world heritage site and the only landlocked and Communist country.

This was an incredible experience that unearthed my greatest love of all: serving others. It was life changing and I recommend it for anyone who loves travelling. I thought of this while listening to a podcast and re-folding my clothes once I landed for my first day in Luang Prabang: it feels really liberating to engage in a completely novel experience not because I have to.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The monks were answering their cellphones in class.