Wow, exactly one month ago I landed in Vientiane. Time flies. August was mainly coined by a constantly-thinking mind and tonnes of new impressions that kept tumbling down on me. And, unfortunately, my first tropical parasite which stopped me for an annoyingly long amount of time.
Now, routine is slowly settling in.
My work schedule is rolling now: Teaching is a lot of fun, all my students are super motivated and I’m trying my best to keep it as interesting as possible. Sometimes, the language barrier is pretty high though – some of my beginners don’t even know the English alphabet while others in the same group roughly have an A2 level. And since people at KM8 are frequently away traveling in the rural provinces for work, I often can’t stick to my thoroughly prepared lesson plan – sometimes, I have one student, on other days 20 and I am constantly forced to adapt to their individual level. It’s challenging at times but I’ve come to appreciate the vast heterogeneity of the group because everyone is helping each other out. My best buddies are definitely flashcards, exaggerated mimic and pantomime by now 😀 Gesa, the Clown aka “the challenges of a TFL classroom”…
I will soon give my first workshop on innovative teaching methods (in Lao, classes tend to be very teacher-centred!) and learning apps. The latter might sound pointless first, but the truth is that most teachers and students here in Vientiane have a smartphone much newer than my own. They don’t own many other valuables but I’ve seen just as many golden sparkling I-phones as in Germany.
Furthermore, the Resource Centre is slowly taking shape under the skilled work of mixed group from DVV and NFEDC. The pictures below will give you an impression of what kind of resource digging I am pursuing atm. No nuggets were found yet, but some interesting teaching material indeed (and I don’t mean the epic JustJustin magazine). However, there’s also a lot of junk to be found, e.g. dead bugs, spider webs, books with missing pages, random sachets of instant coffee and plastic bottles. We are simultaneously trying to get various embassies and NGOs to donate some books. Lemme know if you have any helpful contacts 😉 The Resource Centre will also be designed as an online tool (website, facebook, online resources, …) in order to open up these possibilities for a greater range of non-formal educators not living in Vientiane. The concept itself might not sound new to you, but it would be a first in Lao. I’m very curious how it will turn out, they hope to complete it within a year.
This reminds me of a joke I have just recently heard (told by a Laotian, mind you):
“What does LAO PDR stands for?”
–> LAO PEOPLE DON’T RUSH ♥
As for my remaining two months here, I have planned various weekend trips including: trekking, biking, caving, rock climbing and a charity run… So don’t worry, this blog will soon tell some more outdoorsy stories instead of ones tasting of office dust! But since I said “soon”, I will conclude this post with yet another statistic from the highly recommendable tool Gapminder: