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.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Tuesday

"Giving Tuesday" is THIS Tuesday, December the 3rd! What is Giving Tuesday? It is a full 24 hours when Microsoft and Global Giving will match your donations 100 % !!

Would you like to sponsor a student for English lessons? If so, go to the following website:

One whole year of English lessons is only $144 USD!!

The time to donate will begin  on December 3rd, 2013, at 12:00:01 PM (noon) ET and will end December 4th, 2013, at 11:59:59 AM ET.

Thank you!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monthly Achievement Report October 2013

Arts Program Begins in Luang Prabang, Laos

Our new Arts and Childcare project is up and running! So far we have had 2 creative volunteers sign up to share their love of art. Together they have given 41 Lao children experiences that they may never have had before.

The very first Arts volunteer was Asia from Australia. Asia taught 30 children between the ages of 4 and 10 years old at the library in town. The children learned English while also experimenting with different types of art. One day the children learned different colours and painted a colour wheel to see what happens when primary colours are mixed together. Pattern and the alphabet were also topics of another day so the children drew all sorts of unique patterns on alphabet posters. We made homemade play dough and formed triangles, squares and circles to practice shapes, self-portraits were drawn and lots of fun messes were made.

Our second Arts volunteer Naomi, is from England and currently on the project for 6 weeks. Naomi has a class of 11 students between the ages of 10 and 18 years old. Many of these children have lost one or both parents and all live together in a house a little outside of town. The students have made dream catchers, their own homemade books about sheep in England, tissue paper lanterns, maracas and animal masks, just to name a few of the activities the students have loved doing.

To find out more about our Arts and Childcare project please look at the following link-


Monday, November 4, 2013

Nursing School

Two of our former students, Khamphet (on the left) and Goun (pictured in the middle) are leaving Luang Prabang and moving to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. They will both be attending nursing school for the next 2 years. They are pictured above with our project manager, Tricia Feeney.

Good luck Goun and Khamphet!