Sightseeing Off The Beaten Path And Working As A Volunteer in Laos.

As you probably know, I love getting to know other countries and cultures by volunteering abroad. One of the goals for this blog is to make it easier for you to volunteer abroad too. I have already volunteered in Russia, USA and Thailand – but I haven’t been everywhere yet 🙂 That’s why I invite other bloggers to share their experience with you.

Today, Antonio from Vietnam Chronicles shares about his volunteering in Laos.

And if you want to know how to arrange your own volunteering time, check this step by step guide!

Volunteer in Laos

volunteering in Laos

Why did you decide to volunteer in Laos?

Volunteering in Laos was my third or fourth project (lost the count already) after volunteering and traveling around Vietnam for the whole year.

For this particular project, I decided mainly because I wanted to experience true and authentic Laos.

I was looking for many projects on Workaway, but the majority of the options to volunteer in Laos were in hospitality. I’m not actually a supporter of doing something that local people can do. I’ve decided I want to focus on education, a field I’m passionate about.

After a week of searching, I finally found an interesting project in a small village called Nakai (south-central Laos). I contacted the host and he was very positive and happy about my coming. Also, I felt he is very passionate about this project so it was more than enough for me to go to volunteer in Laos. 

volunteer in Laos

Related to volunteering abroad, I’ve started at the beginning of 2018 in rural Vietnam. I dropped out of college at that time and I felt bored. I thought I could do more with my life. Choosing Vietnam, among other countries, was totally random and I’m very glad I picked that country that I call home now.

It’s been almost two years that I’m living, traveling and volunteering around SEA. So far, I’ve visited Vietnam (traveled the whole country by motorbike a few times), Laos, Cambodia (traveled the country by motorbike) and Malaysia.

How did you find the organization to volunteer in Laos?

host and volunteer

I found the project on Workaway – a platform for finding interesting volunteering projects. I had a few requirements for the project. It needed to be related to education, it needed to be located in a rural part of the country, volunteers shouldn’t take away work from local people.

The project met all of these requirements and I just needed to contact Thon, my beloved host that I’m going to visit this month. His story touched me and I wanted to be involved in helping locals to learn more. 

Here you can find this amazing project on Workaway. If you need help or have any questions related to the project, feel free to hit me up. I’ll be more than glad to help you and hopefully, meet you in Laos.

Can you describe your daily tasks?

Basically, I had a tremendous amount of free time during my volunteer work in Laos. We had lectures every day through workweek from 5 pm – 9 pm. It was about 20 hours per week and no one ever asked me to do anything more.

I had a pretty cool routine there since I had a free morning, a motorbike, a bicycle and a stunning amount of natural beauty around. I would wake up around 9 am, get a breakfast that was usually a sandwich (Kau chi pate) or fresh fruits (bananas or mangos), open the map and randomly pick the location to explore, come back, take a shower, teach and repeat. It was a great time!

When it comes to the project, we had 5 groups of students that were separated by knowledge and age. I was mainly teaching kids since I’ve had a lot of experience with kids and really enjoyed teaching them.

You start at 5 pm and the first class finishes at 7 pm. The second class starts at 7 pm and finishes around 9 pm. People are genuinely interested in lessons and you have a complete freedom to do whatever you think is working. It was a great feeling to have the freedom and it was even greater when people appreciate the advice and look forward to improving themselves. 

What were the most rewarding parts of your volunteering in Laos?

volunteering in Laos - classroom

There were good and bad sides of course, but generally, it was one of the best volunteering experiences so far. 

Most rewarding parts during my volunteering in Laos: teaching local kids who were extremely interested and passionate about learning a new language (way different than my experience in Vietnam). Exploring the beautiful nature around the project, being accepted by local people as one of them. Learning a lot about Laos as a country and the culture in that part of the country, getting a new international family that’s very close to my heart. I will definitely visit them again and again.

Any negative sides?

Laos countryside

Bad part related to the project, was the lack of organization when it comes to teaching. It was an extremely new project (a month old). I had a hard time to control 20 kids in a room designed for a maximum of 10 people when temperature is higher than 35C.

It was understandable since my host and his family were giving their best to teach other classes (there were two English speakers, two of my hosts who were working 2 or 3 jobs at the same time).

The worst part, unrelated to a project, was the dry and hot season. I’ve never experienced that hot weather. It was like a desert and sometimes it was very hard to go through a day. 😀

What’s the most interesting story from that time? 🙂

volunteer in Laos

A very cool experience that I’ll never forget was when I went camping and my host joined me. We drank a few beers, burned a fire and all of a sudden, he told me to go to the lake to catch some food. I’ve never done something similar as going to the lake in the middle of the night in Laos. It didn’t seem like the safest idea.

But we went straight there. He showed me how to catch snails and we caught a crazy amount of them. Afterwards we cleaned them and fried them on the fire until they were ready for eating.

We ate them without any seasoning or spices and it was extremely delicious. After a month or two, I got a parasite on my liver. It was a very painful experience and recovery is still going on (6 months already). Point of the story: don’t eat snails in Laos 😀 

About the author

author

I am Antonio, a Croatian travel blogger currently living in Vietnam and occasionally traveling around SEA region by motorbike. I’m very interested in SEA region and I’m trying to learn as much as possible about the people, culture and daily problems in order to help these beautiful people to shorten the gap in education and living conditions. I’m the owner of Vietnam Chronicles, a travel blog that focuses on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

And if you want to read more volunteering-related fascinating stories, check the below articles 🙂

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