So today is day 5 (I am late publishing since our wifi is anything but reliable…) and we have already experienced so much that I am struggeling to recall everything.
On Sunday, Ingrid showed us around Vientiane. We strolled through the city centre (DRIPPING with sweat…) and along Mekong river, gave Thailand a little salute from there, ate delicious street food and also bought a few clothes for me on the night markets. As you can tell, my backpack has still not arrived. We keep calling the airport but all attempts to track it have failed. Big bummer. I am trying to stay optimistic, but I am getting a little more nervous with every passing day… It’s not really about my clothes (those, I could replace and would most likely get a compensation from the airline), but I packed important meds and teaching material I won’t be able to buy here. Oh and my diary was in there, too I guess it’s s a lesson learnt for life. Next time, I will simply smuggle a 50kg piece of hand luggage on board, yes.
The staff from DVV (Deutscher Volkshochschulverband) gave us a really, really warm welcome on our first day. Both our bosses accompanied us to the two work locations and made sure we would get introduced to everyone. Goals and working times were agreed on and many nops practised.
They also helped us to get a Lao simcard and haggled like a pro to get us a good price for bikes and the traditional Lao skirts (Sinhs) we will need to wear at work. Plus, they organized a little gettogether on our first night. We played the popular national sport Pétanque, drank Beerlao and nibbled on some delicious nuts. Aye, and the mosquitos did more than just nibble on us… Random fact about Beerlao: one could call it THE most successful aid project of all times – it was the former GDR that sponsored the first brewery!
After we got introduced at both working locations, it was decided that Bella should work at the Ministry of Education and Sports in the city-centre. There, she will teach English to the staff and help with the translation of documents. Classic working times: Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm. And maybe she’ll have a cup of tea with Dr. Ka every once in a while, the big boss with the big golden ring whose excessive air-conditioning gave me goose bumps as high as the Kilimanjaro. I am still not used to the 20degree difference between in- and outside….
Frankly, I was equally interested in both job opportunities, but I am kind of relieved to work in a less formal environment. I was never much of a pencil pusher. Instead, I will work at a place we call „KM8“– a very gangster name, right? It’s about 8km outside of the city centre, that’s where the name derives from. From GLAD guest house it’s even a little farther. My working routine will therefore start and end with a decent bike ride of 23km, just how I like it 😉 KM8’s official name is Non-Formal Education Development Centre (NFEDC) and consists of about 5houses nestled together on a lush green compound. They offer a wide range of non-formal education courses to Lao people (children as well as adults). For example, there are classes on sewing and agriculture. Additionally, they work closely together with local schools, agree on curricula and provide teaching material. As for myself, will have three main duties there:
- Teach English to the staff of NFEDC:every afternoon, one course for beginners and one for intermediate learners (including the English teachers of KM8).
- Teachers‘ trainings/class visits: They asked me to assess their teaching and give them feedback and tips afterwards. If possible, I’m to organize some sort of training once a month.
- Inventory of the library: It broke my heart to see that the centre’s library is currently not even in use. The door is locked and there are messy stacks of books and spider webs everywhere. No-one is really responsible for it and no-one knows what useful teaching material could be among those books. A huge task which will very unlikely be completed in 3months. I’ll try my best to create a foundation for whoever is taking over in November.
Additionally, Bella and me will meet with the DVV once a week because they would like to track our progress and check on us. All organisations work closely together and we are in very good hands. I am super motivated and feel honoured how much confidence they have in me. I will surely do my best.
So much for the grown-up part of my life! And P.S.:
One thought on “Rolling up my Sleeves”
Sounds like you’re having a lot of great work in a friendly environment ahead of you.
Frankly, I too have never understood why people turn up their ACs to bring eternal arctic winter to the building when outside people are melting away. It’s hard to adapt. So, I guess you got the better job :D.