- Posted October 3, 2013 by
Luang Prabang, Laos
This iReport is part of an assignment:
This is a business trip?!
This is work?!
When I was finishing my Master's Degree in Development Studies, I chose to do my field research in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. I am a teacher by profession, but I have a keen interest in all things involving education, including learning and adapting to new situations. This trip was especially unique because I am a US citizen and currently live in Bangkok, Thailand, both VERY developed in comparison to any place in Lao PDR.
When I arrived for my field research, I knew that I was going to focus on education and learning. I visited several non-formal institutions ,which promoted the learning of different languages, skills and activities. I came across an independent project on the internet, which would later become a major part of my research, called the S.M.I.L.E. Project. The ultimate goal is to provide access to free education, shelter and nutrition to underprivileged youth in Luang Prabang town. I immediately decided I wanted to be a part of it, so I began volunteering with the director of the project to help disburse materials and information to the needy students.
It's incredible how much the students actually want to be there. The class begins at 7:30 in the evening and takes place every night in a temple. The temple is a previous UNESCO funded temple, but has ceased to be one since 2007, leaving the classroom a tattered but quaint area for learning. There are between 18-30 students who currently attend this free and non-formal class.