Once I had finished my volunteer stint teaching English in Cambodia way back in December, I could not wait to get traveling and start moving around from place to place. Since arriving in Laos, however, I've been craving a little break from my nomadic life.
Spending five days doing practically nada in the capital city of Vientiane definitely gave me a boost but I still don't feel like my batteries are fully charged, which is why I've decided to spend about a week in my current destination of Luang Prabang. It's a charming city with endless amounts of boutique hotels and trendy restaurants that cater to the hoards of tourists who visit. It reminds me a lot of Siem Reap actually: at first glance it might seem like an upscale and almost artificial place for foreigners to eat and shop 'til they drop, but my experience teaching English in Siem Reap made me realize it's so much more than that, and I have a feeling Luang Prabang will be as well. I plan on finding out by teaching English here too!
There are several opportunities in Luang Prabang for people wanting to teach English, even if it's only for a day. The Luang Prabang Library holds daily informal conversation sessions, attended primarily by monks from the pagoda across the street. I showed up today hoping to help out but it turns out I'm not the only tourist in town wanting to volunteer! Seeing as they already had enough volunteers, I wandered over to The Children's Cultural Center (The 'CCC'), a building attached to the Library that seems to host a sort of drop-in program for kids of all ages.
When I arrived the kids were in a circle listening to a man (who I assume to be the Center's program leader) playing the guitar. One girl greeted me by shouting 'hello!' and then shyly hiding behind her friends. I went over to the group and started chatting with them, only to discover that many of them had a pretty high level of English. I asked them if they wanted to play some games, and after getting an OK from one of the staff I taught them how to play duck duck goose and go go stop, and they loved it.
After playing for a bit a few of the older kids asked me if I would do an English lesson with them, and I said I would. They were a group of about 10 teenagers in total, all very bright and happy to be there. For an impromptu class it went extremely well, and when I asked the kids if they would like to do another class they said they would. I gave them some homework and will be seeing them again on Tuesday for our next class.
This evening I'm going to teach another English class at Big Brother Mouse, a more established organization that promotes literacy in Laos through book distribution. I had a look at the organization's center earlier and it looks great, so I'm excited to see what the class will be like.
I think spending some time teaching English here in Luang Prabang will be a perfect way to get geared up to start traveling again, and hopefully help some kids improve their language skills along the way!
I don't have any pictures of the kids (didn't seem appropriate) but I may have some by the end of the week!