GVI: Volunteer in Laos

Video and Photos

luang prabang, laos, volunteer abroad, GVI
luang prabang, laos, volunteer abroad, GVI
luang prabang, laos, GVI, volunteer abroad
luang prabang, laos, GVI, volunteer abroad
luang prabang, GVI, laos, volunteer abroad
luang prabang, GVI, laos, volunteer abroad
a temple in Laos
a temple in Laos
laos monks english teaching
laos monks english teaching

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 has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

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

91%
based on 22 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 22
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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.
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Joscelyne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A memorable experience !

I have recently completed 6 weeks volunteering in Luang Prabang, Laos on GVI’s Women’s Empowerment project. I had decided to take a year away from my western world and planned to travel solo throughout SE Asia. My decision to volunteer as part of my travels was spurred on by the wish to immerse myself in local culture and do something worthwhile rather than just being a tourist and GVI Luang Prabang did not disappoint me! The friendly staff were on hand to support with every step of lesson planning; clear instructions and training were provided and all the volunteers in my group were made to feel welcome and at ease.
My experience on this project left me feeling very humbled. I was unsure exactly what ‘Women’s Empowerment’ meant. I found myself teaching two very different but inspiring groups of women. The first, on a buffalo farm about 45 minutes ride outside of Luang Prabang. Here I met four incredible employees, who were striving to improve themselves by learning to speak English to enable them to engage with tourists visiting the farm. I was struck by how enthusiastic they were, and I really enjoyed our time together.
The second group was an amazing group of young women who were awesome in every way. In Laos many young girls living in the countryside have less opportunities to study as they must help their younger siblings. So, women have to work incredibly hard; leave their homes and move to Luang Prabang to pursue their dreams. Each young woman I taught had their own story but what struck me the most was how determined they all were. Relaxation time was something they experienced very little of and every moment was used to better themselves.
Whilst I was with them, we learnt about the skills of debating and held a debate with another young adults’ class on whether it was better to live in the city of the countryside. Debating is a difficult concept, but they managed this in another language so confidently and it was remarkable to witness. We followed this topic by looking at interview skills – the young women found it very hard to ‘blow their own trumpets’ but with practice and encouragement they achieved a good summary of what they could say in an interview.
As my 6 weeks came to an end, we had just started looking at successful young Asian women and this brought up another discussion regarding of all things, Philanthropy! A difficult subject to talk about in especially in English but they managed with ease and enjoyed learning along the way!
It was a privilege to be part of something so worthwhile and I was so impressed by the student’s determination to learn and the respect and gratitude that they showed.
If you’re considering volunteering then GVI Luang Prabang is special, so much so I plan to return next year! If you’re worried about the teaching side, then don’t be! You’re not expected to plan alone as help is always on hand from staff and other volunteers.

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Mia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible volunteering experience

I have just spent six weeks volunteering with GVI in Luang Prabang on the Women’s Empowerment Program. This was my first time volunteering and spending six weeks in one place, and it was an amazing experience. When I arrived I was nervous about my ability to lead a classroom and provide lessons which had an impact on the children’s English.
In my first week I was provided with training and given a mentor for each of my classes. This meant that I soon became confident enough to start planning and teaching by myself. After two weeks I felt very excited to make resources and tailor the classroom to the students I enjoyed teaching and getting to know.
The beauty of the GVI program is the diversity of the partners in Laos – I taught at a temple in the morning with novice monks, then at a buffalo farm with local village children 40 minutes away from Luang Prabang town. In the afternoons, I had my women’s empowerment class, which was primarily teaching English to a class of 10 hardworking girls. For me, this meant that each class was very different and I was able to have variety in my teaching because of the range of classes you teach.
The volunteers all live together in one guest house, which means you quickly become close to the whole group. I came in an intake of lovely volunteers who all were keen to start making an impact in Laos, we were of all different ages which meant we had different strengths and different stories to tell. We had weekends off which allowed us to explore Luang Prabang as a group. We went to the waterfalls, jewelry class making and learnt how farmers make rice at Seven Brothers Farm.
I cannot recommend volunteering enough and Luang Prabang is the perfect calm town to spend months getting to know and live in.

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Julie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Would highly recommend!

Volunteering with GVI in Luang Prabang, Laos, was an incredible experience. From the moment I arrived I felt welcomed by the staff and other volunteers alike. The GVI staff is so dedicated to their work and to helping new volunteers get properly introduced to the program. During my 4 weeks stay I had the amazing opportunity to teach both novices and lay students. All the students were a joy to teach and each day with them was completely new. The accommodations were great and there were Asian as well as western foods to choose from. During the weekends there was time to explore the city and organise trips such as bathing elephants and seeing the famous Kuang Si waterfall. I loved every day of my time on the program and hope to return again soon.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
As someone who had no previous teaching experience it can seem overwhelming to be a teacher in a new environment but the GVI staff is so helpful and ensure that you are comfortable before being alone in a classroom.
Recess from teaching in the Mekong cafe
Liz
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Cultural Experience

I took retirement from my job as a nurse manager in the UK and needed a diversion to help me adjust to this life change. I searched the internet and was instantly attracted to the Womens Empowerment Programme run by Global Vision International (GVI) in the beautiful city of Luang Prabang, Laos.

GVI provided me with 10 hours of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and issued me with a certificate. This guidance, from GVI staff, gave me the necessary preparation for my teaching role. The instruction on lesson planning and using different teaching techniques and games were particularly useful. The GVI teaching staff provided mentorship, so I always felt supported.

My involvement with the Women's Empowerment Programme, where I was involved in teaching English and running careers workshops, was very rewarding. I had the opportunity to make a positive difference to these young women who have limited access to education and often limited life choices. GVI recognizes that teaching English improves employment opportunities for this group of young women. Also, the aim of the careers workshops is to help broaden their awareness of employment opportunities and choices. It was a pleasure to see their enjoyment when participating and they even chose to attend on a bank holiday!

Through volunteering with GVI I was also involved in the Days for Girls (DfG) menstrual health programme. This initiative provides health education and reusable menstrual hygiene products for women in rural communities. I taught a young Laos man about menstrual health which prepared him to be an ambassador for the DfG programme. It was a privilege to be part of a programme that is making a difference to the health, self esteem and daily living of these women.

Volunteering for GVI was an amazing cultural experience which I gained from immersing myself in the culture whilst working and living in Laos. For example, when teaching I had to dress appropriate to the Laos culture and wore a Sinh (Laos skirt) and collared shirt. This meant I was recognised and respected as a teacher by students and local people, hence I felt part of the community.

I learnt about the local customs, language and Buddhism through cultural talks run by GVI which enabled me to behave in a culturally appropriate way. My learning about the Laos language helped me to consider the difficulties in learning English and to adapt my teaching accordingly. I could speak a few words in Laos and locals appreciated a friendly greeting 'Sabaidee' with 'nob' gesture. As volunteers we participated in chanting and meditating at temples and gave early morning alms to Buddhists. I felt fortunate to participate in these rituals as a volunteer who was contributing to the community rather than observing as a tourist. I even experienced tourists wanting to take my picture when wearing my Sinh!

Another positive part of my time as a volunteer was experiencing the beautiful UNESCO world heritage sights and local countryside. The highlights of my trip included visiting temples, the food market, waterfalls, and the Mekong river.

My immersion into the culture when living and working for GVI in Luang Prabang has helped me adjust from retirement and consider new opportunities for my future. Overall my experience of volunteering and the country of Laos has been amazing. Being part of projects that are sustainable and make a difference to communities has made my experience all the sweeter.

What would you improve about this program?
Improved IT resources and database of teaching aids
Read my full story
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Julie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in Luang Prabang Laos

I had a wonderful experience with GVI in Laos. I first went to Luang Prabang in 2012 as a tourist and I promised myself to go back one day. In 2017 when investigating where to teach in the world, Luang Prabang popped up on my screen, I was thrilled to go back. I had never taught English and I never spent eight weeks half way around the world. When I landed in Luang Prabang and was met by GVI’s staff and four other starting volunteers all worries were put to rest and knew I had made the right decision. There are anywhere from 12 to 20 volunteers at any given time. Some come for two weeks, others stay six months. Volunteers come from all over the world and are all age groups. The GVI staff are incredibly dedicated to their work and their enthusiasm is contagious. In the first week you’ll attend morning classes teaching you how to teach. They have a wonderful resource library and are very organized in the lesson planning. Every morning you will meet with your GVI mentor who will help you plan the day’s lesson, but it’s up to you to decide how to teach, what games you might play and to bring the needed resources to class. It’s a lot of fun to think of new ways to keep the students engaged. I taught two classes a day (along with another wonderful volunteer). The morning class was for novice monks, young boys that come from the neighboring Wats in order to learn and practice their English. My afternoon class were local girls and boys who are in school during the day and come to GVI for English classes. The kids are incredible, so happy to be learning and appreciative of your time. Most of the volunteers stay in the GVI guest house but there are options to stay in more private accommodations nearby. You’re given meals at a restaurant around the corner from a large set menu, but there are so many restaurants and the costs are very inexpensive, you’re also free to eat elsewhere. The volunteers have weekends off and there is loads of things to do in and around Luang Prabang. There are waterfalls and hiking in the mountains, art or cooking classes, visiting elephant sanctuaries, exploring the many Wats or just hanging out in the funky bars and restaurants. Luang Prabang is a hidden gem of a town on the Mekong River nestled in the mountains. I hope to make it back one day, I miss it and think of my time there often.

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Henry
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Six months in paradise

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.

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Fanny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching experience

It's the 4th time I go teaching with GVI in Laos. It's an amazing program with real impact on the students. They are always doing their best and want to learn as much as possible. The staff is organized and truly involved!
The accommodation is really nice with well functioned showers and western toilets which is not in the most of volunteer programs. The volunteers are staying in the same house so everybody hang out and do some activities together. You can make friends, see another culture and help the most amazing people I've seen in this world. Lao are the nicest and they always give you the feeling to be welcomed.

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Barbara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life changing experience

Spending 8 weeks teaching Novice Monks English in the beautiful UNESCO location of Luang Prabang was the most life changing, rewarding, fulfilling opportunity. Words cannot describe the immense support and care shown by GVI to their volunteers. Support began before leaving home, to collection at the airport, organized accomodation, training, support during teaching the lessons and even help with appropriate clothing required to wear in the classrooom. Support even continued after leaving and returning home. Highly recommend this program to all, whether you are a gap year student or mature aged like me.

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Sophie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Phenomenal Experience with GVI Laos

I spent a short three weeks volunteering in Luang Prabang, Laos with GVI where I taught English to novice monks and local school children. The accommodations were simple but great, the food was excellent, the work and the students made it all so deeply rewarding. I was especially grateful for the incredible team of volunteers and staff who were so supportive and fun and made the whole experience such a positive one. Getting to know the community in Luang Prabang and connect with students in an authentic and meaningful way made this a profound experience for me. I always felt safe, stimulated, and motivated. I would go back in a heartbeat.

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Yvonne
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Unethical pricing

I returned home a couple of weeks ago from volunteering with GVI. I found out within a few days of me starting that they charge different amounts depending on where you live. For example I live in the USA and they charged me about $700/$800 more than somebody living in the UK. I confronted GVI with this unethical way of doing business during my exit interview and have had two more conversations about this appalling way of doing business upon my return. They are so concerned about the culture and habits in the countries they have their volunteer opportunities and educate and stress with the volunteers how important it is that we do not offend anybody because GVI wants to uphold their name to high standards. But than they turn around and treat their volunteers in a disrespectful way by charging them different prices for the same thing depending on where you live. Shame on you GVI....Your volunteers are the backbone of keeping your business going. If you do not treat them right than it is just a matter of time your business will fail. A very unacceptable way of doing business.

What would you improve about this program?
Pricing should be the same no matter where you live
Response from GVI

Hi Yvonne,

We're really sorry to hear that you weren't fully satisfied with your GVI experience.

Unfortunately, the cost of marketing and recruitment is radically different in different markets. Currently, it costs us three to four times the amount to recruit participants via advertising from within the US as it does in the UK. This is something however that we are always looking to refine and improve upon.

I'm glad that you have already been in communication with our Alumni and Field teams. If you have any further questions, please do contact us at [email protected], as we're very happy to discuss this more with you at any point.

Best

The GVI Team

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Lou
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

I'm glad I had the chance to discover Laos with GVI ! it's totally different than travelling on your own. It's nice to stay in a place and start to live a bit like the local people. It's another way to travel and I think everyone should try this at least once in their life.
It was such a great experience. I met so many people that i won't forget, I bounded new friendships with the volunteers and I still keep in touch with them.
I'm also happy to have meet the Novices and Monks that taught me so much about their cultures. I had another vision of life when I came home.
I decided to go back this year and I hope it will be as great as the first time I went there !

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Mhairi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Luang Prabang 2017

I couldn't recommend volunteering in Luang Prabang, Laos more! Luang Prabang itself is such a magical and enchanting place and the people are so friendly and interesting that it makes volunteering even more special. Getting to know the local people, who have such a different way of life to my own, was fascinating and made the trip even more special.
If you'd told me I would be doing a women's empowerment project in Laos last year I would have said you were mad but with the training and support given it makes stepping into the classroom with confidence easy and fun! At first it may seem a little daunting but the first few hectic days are worth it for the fun and rewarding classes you get after the initial training days.
I found the accommodation and staff lovely and had much nicer accommodation and better support than I imagined would be provided. The food was great, lots of variety and some amazing restaurants around if you need something different.
During the Womens Empowerment project I was introduced to Days for Girls and taught menstrual health workshops to local girls and found this the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I'm already planning a future project doing something similar but I wouldn't hesitate in returning to Luang Prabang to do the same project again!
I feel doing the project has opened so many doors for me. I have volunteer projects upcoming in 2018, am raising money to go to Nepal, and have been offered some volunteer work with a local Trust near my home after the founder heard me speak about my time in Laos at a Rotary Club meeting. Thank you GVI for the experience! Can't imagine ordinary backpacking without any volunteering now!

What would you improve about this program?
I would say some more support to pairs of volunteers who have less experience (and perhaps less experience in the teaching field) and being flexible with volunteers who wish to try different things.
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Fanny
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience

I spent 7 weeks teaching english to Novices and Monks in Laos. They are kind and they want so bad to learn new things. We always enjoy the class all together. The staff are professional and organized but also really nice and fun. Luang Prabang is a city like no other. There is temple on every corner and smiley people on the street. It's a unique experience and it changes your life!
I really recommend it!

Read my full story
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sophie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

CONSTRUCTIVE 2 MONTHS SPENT IN BEAUTIFUL LUANG PRABANG

It comes a time in life when you want something different. Not better, not more, but different!
And that's exactly what I found in Luang Prabang by joining GVI and teaching English to novices and monks for 2 months. I could have never expected such a fulfilling experience. I gave all that I could, they took what I had to give and they were not only happy, they really made progress – what an incredible satisfaction! The project in Luang Prabang is varied and extremely interesting. The support of the staff from day 1 allows you to do things you didn’t expect or think you could. And actually, now that I’ve lived this volunteering experience, and not only have taught English but have also learned so much from such a humble and culturally fascinating population, I wonder how visiting a new country as a tourist will feel like from now on!
Thanks to this project (1/150 GVI has to offer worldwide), I found out that you are able to spend precious time with the locals, discovering the city and its outskirts on weekends, whilst making a positive impact on the lives of wonderful people – A special thanks to all the amazing people I was lucky to meet and “rub elbows with” !!!

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change anything

Location

Location:
Laos
Currency:
Laotian Kip

Laos is typically not regarded as touristy, especially in comparison to its highly touristy neighboring countries of Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia; however, this is slowly changing as people now associate Laos with a laid back style of living.

Interviews

Alumni Interviews

Staff Interviews

About GVI

Founded in 1998, GVI runs programs in various countries around the world, each manned by our own staff and aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), as well as the objectives of local partners. We welcome participants...