Monday, May 12, 2014


Together with my colleague James, I was teaching a class of novices how to use the possessive forms "apostrophe s" and "s apostrophe".  I was looking for an example of a plural noun that does not end in "s" and therefore requires the "apostrophe s".  I came up with the word "sheep".  But none of the Novices had any idea of the meaning of sheep.  

Thinking back to the excellent instruction sessions I attended at the beginning of my time as a volunteer, I remembered the importance of acting and mime as teaching tools.  So I got down on my hands and knees, looked as stupid as I possibly could and said "Baaaaa,   Baaaaa".  Immediately the novices erupted in laughter and told me that they now understand the word sheep.  I was particularly proud of my performance.

Out of curiosity, I asked the class, "what is the Lao word for sheep".  With a big grin, one of the Novices told me: "Baaaaa".
- This blog post was written by Rod Tucker from Australia who was on the project for 4 weeks with his wife Gretel.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

March 2014 Monthly Achievement Report: Internship

For March 2014, GVI Laos celebrates the achievement of having 2 long term volunteers on our Internship Program.  GVI Laos has received the benefit of these 2 committed volunteers simultaneously. Also celebratory, is the fact that one of our Interns is a returning volunteer.

As participants of the GVI leadership course, they have been kept busy with the everyday work of teaching English, and have also completed specialised training in the area of leadership, attended meetings and debriefs with their staff mentor and completed a wide range of tasks and assessments to build their skills in team leading.

In the past three busy months of their Internship, they have been introduced to the theoretical concepts of leadership, gained knowledge about the processes, responsibilities and difficulties of leading a team. However, one of the most valuable marks of the GVI Internship programme is its practical approach and the many possibilities it offers its participants to employ their newly acquired leadership skills.

A highlight of the Interns’ past three months was the village trip they each organised. Not only was it an occasion for them to demonstrate their organisational skills by establishing contact with a Lao teacher in a village outside Luang Prabang, arranging the transportation, a visit of the village and an English lesson at the local school, but it was also an opportunity to prove themselves competent team-leaders. As such, their preparatory tasks for the day comprised writing a comprehensive risk assessment, delegating the tasks to their team members and leading team meetings.

Both the preliminary tasks as well as managing the field trip itself offered invaluable opportunities to develop and expand communicational, organisational and leading skills, all on top of spending a memorable day with a their fellow volunteers in an astounding Lao village.

Read more about the Laos Internship Program on:

Written by Esthi Waldemeir, GVI Intern (pictured above) and Tricia Feeney, GVI Laos Project Manager.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

February 2014 Monthly Achievement Report

February saw the beginning of a new chapter for GVI Luang Prabang, as we began working with students who have hearing impairment and / or intellectual impairment at the School for the Deaf (SFD). This new environment provided a unique set of challenges, forcing us to rethink our teaching practices so as to best meet the specific needs of the students.

Our time at SFD has reiterated the importance of the unique skill set that each volunteer brings to the program. We were lucky enough to have two wonderful interns working at SFD, one with a background in signing, who have both been able to help establish best practice as we developed methods for working with students with disabilities. The passion, enthusiasm and patience that each volunteer has brought to the program have ensured the delivery of high quality lessons, the creation of invaluable resources and made for a very promising start to GVI’s involvement with SFD.

As well as confronting the difficulties inherit in working with students who have a hearing impairment, GVI has begun implementing inclusive practices aimed at meeting the educational requirements of the school’s high need students . This development culminated in the creation of Individual Education Plans for two students with intellectual impairment. The innovation was an immediate success, allowing GVI volunteers to structure their teaching in a manner that tailored the curriculum to the specific needs of the students; an important step in bringing modern and inclusive teaching techniques to a community where education for people with disabilities is still in its infancy.

The success of GVI’s first month at SFD is something to be proud of. The positivity and desire to learn shown by the students has been matched at every step by the dedication of our volunteers, and we look forward to its continued growth.

To find out more please visit our Twitter Page @GVILuangPrabang or find us on Facebook at GVI Luang Prabang.

Written by Patrick Rose, GVI Field Staff


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Holidays to everyone all around the world!!


This will be our last Blogspot post but please stay tuned in early 2014 for our brand new blog site.


We had a fantastic year in 2013. Here are some of our highlights:
- Volunteers and staff traveled to Xieng Khouang Province with over 100 college students to tour the famous Plain of Jars

- We raised 3640USD in our annual Charitable Trust Challenge when GVI staff and volunteers woke up at 5am 5 days in a row to give alms to Buddhist monks and novices

- We started an Arts and Childcare project where we have taught arts through English to over 50 Lao children

- Our construction volunteers completed many projects around the community- at temples, The School for the Deaf, Xayadeth College and  My Library


Thanks to all our supporters of 2013.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Volunteer Blog Post

In 2012 I spent 6 weeks teaching English in Luang Prabang. I had a fantastic time and fell in love with Laos. I loved the program and being able to teach novice monks was a real privilege. In October this year I returned  for 4 weeks with my newly retired husband, Rod. I wondered if it could possibly be as good again. I quickly decided that yes it was – my time in Luang Prabang was just as rewarding, fascinating and wonderful but in different ways. Teaching lay students was fascinating and I learnt a lot about Lao life from them. Life was a bit more relaxed as I didn’t feel the need to visit every temple in town – in fact I only went to temples novices and monks invited us to. The food was just as good – perhaps even better sharing it with Rod!  I planned our trip to coincide with the festivities at the end of Buddhist Lent – an experience we will never forget!

- Written by Gretel from Australia who is thinking about returning on the project for a 3rd time!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Volunteer Profile

                 Good day! My name is Ben Cohen and I just finished the English teaching program in Luang Prabang, Laos, with GVI. My story is a unique one. I was born in Bucharest, Romania, I was lucky enough to be adopted by my mother at the ripe old age of two. Although I have Romanian roots I really consider myself an Arizona boy, since I've spent most of my life in Phoenix, Arizona. I have a deep love and appreciation for the 110 degree (F) summers (43 C), the blazing sun, the cactus covered landscape along with a special place in my heart for hanging out poolside with a cold beer on a hot day.

                  My mother always had a bit of a travel bug and it has seemed to rub off on me a bit over the years. I was lucky enough to travel when I was younger and those experiences shaped where I am at today. Seeing as I just finished up my two year degree at college I thought it would be a perfect time to take a break from Phoenix and see the world a bit. Through GVI and some other independent travels I have been able to start my journey, going through such countries as Laos, Cambodia, China, Thailand and South Africa. I'll be doing all sorts of things from teaching English, to working with sea turtles, to working in a resort on a Safari. And six of my eight months of travel will be with GVI over three different programs.

                Teaching was an amazing and humbling experience. I honestly had no idea what to expect from Laos. But whatever expectations I did have, Luang Prabang definitely blew them away. The students have such a passion for learning that it makes it hard to not be motivated and inspried by their attitudes and commitment. The staff and accommodation were more than generous and extremely helpful whenever I needed anything. It is very clear that everyone on the program is passionate about creating a positve educational environment for all the students.

                As far as Luang Prabang goes it isn't a big city but there is definitely plenty to do. Between the waterfalls, village treks, elephant riding, caves, and a decent selection of bars around town  there is a little something for everyone. Laos was my first stop in Southeast Asia and to be honest, its a perfect introduction to this part of the world. The Lao people are genuinely friendly,  the food is great and the beer is cheap. Asking for a better experience for my first two months would be selfish. Although its sad leaving Laos and the many amazing people I've met a long the way, I can't wait to see a little bit more of the world both independently and with GVI.  Cheers!

 -Ben Cohen


Monday, December 2, 2013

Lives as Novices Spent Studying, Meditation and Working (written by a novice)

If you become a Novice Monk, first you have to study about the Pali language, second, Buddhist teaching and third, meditation. All this things are very important for Novices.

When you become a Novice, you must change everything, such as clothes, body and mind. Buddhist people are not allowed to suggest another person should   believe in Buddhism. If people want to know, they have to learn by themselves. Buddha says every religion is very good, and people can choose what they would like to believe. After you become a Novice for a long time, it depends on you which subject you want to study next. Like me, now I'm studying English, Japanese, and Chinese. I also study the Lao language at the Monk’s school. At the Monk’s school we have twelve subjects, sometimes making me crazy about studying so many things.

            Novices and Monks usually practice meditation. When they practice meditation, they have to be calm and peaceful. For example, while they are practicing walking meditation their mind must not be thinking about their family, work or the world. If they don't have an empty mind they can't call it meditation.  They have to stop thinking about their work, family and friends. But they have to think about the present moment and be aware of their body and their breathing.

            On the weekend, Novices usually work around their temples. At their temples, they have a leader Novice when they work around the temple. He usually gives advice to the small Novices. Some Novices sweep around the temple's yard, some Novices clean around the temple, and some Novices cut the firewood in the forests. Some days they work very hard, but some days not as hard. Most Novices get very tired except the old Monks because they study about Buddhism instead of working.

            The lives of Novices and Monks in the temple are very busy. They spend many hours working, studying and practicing meditation.