One year after the start of “The Crack“
Today – Thursday, 25 March 2021 – at 8:05 a.m., after one full year of no possibility to travel to or from Laos in our “Bi-directional teaching and learning” project, Ms Leya Benita Hoenicke (Team XI.5) touched down in Vientiane after a two-day flight journey via Doha and Kuala Lumpur.
It had been a week of holding our breaths in incredible suspense. She (and we) did not know until one hour before her departure for Frankfurt Airport on Tuesday whether her passport with the long-awaited VISA stamp from the Lao Embassy in Berlin would arrive in time, because the necessary papers and stamps from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) – the last authority in line (in a long line of authorities to go through to get entry to Lao P.D.R.) – only arrived at 4 p.m. (German time) on Monday. And the Lao Embassy in Berlin needed permission by the MOFA to issue the VISA.
The Embassy issued the VISA within 30 minutes after receiving the papers and then were even so very kind as to take her passport to the post office to be dispatched by express service at 5 p.m. It arrived at 10 a.m. the next day.
Ms Leya, having packed her bags on Friday (which is when the stamped papers by the other ministries arrived), was thus able to leave her hometown Pforzheim in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, on Tuesday, 11 a.m.
She is now in quarantine for 2 weeks in the “One Vientiane” Hotel in Souphanouvong Avenue, Chanthabouly District…
… and will start tandem-work at the Lao-German Technical College 0n 7 April.
We – this is me, the project leader on the German side, and Ms Julia Friedl (International Office of the University of Education Karlsruhe) – are most grateful to our Lao partners who made this possible in the shortest time (un)imaginable, at the very last minute, after endless initial obstacles: Mr Somlith Virivong (MoES), Mr Saythong Insarn (MoES), Mr Thanongsak Oudomsin (Oudomsin Trading & Travel Service Co., Ltd.), Ms Moukdala Keomixai (LGTC), and, of course, His Excellency the Lao Ambassador Mr Phomma Boutthavong (Berlin). “TheLaosExperience“!
And now we will exhale, have a good night’s sleep, and trust – know – there is a future for our project. Tomorrow, we will resume work on getting two of our doctoral students over to Savannakhet and our next four Savannkhet partners over to Karlsruhe for the summer term, for the end of April.
Ms Leya will share her diary of the last week here shortly in detail. You can expect a page-turner… and her reports on her tandem-work (and, no doubt, more adventures…) will follow.
Last, but not least: Congratulations, Ms Leya, on your immensely steady nerve and unfailing trust, which we all admire and are grateful for. You did not only get yourself to Laos under very difficult circumstances, but shone a significant light for us all through the cracks.
My sincerest thanks to you and all involved,
Text by I. Martin
Photos by L. Hoenicke & T. Oudomsin