Hello. Every hello comes along with a goodbye at some stage. For the rest of Team I (Franziska, Laura and me) and Prof Martin the time to say goodbye had come.
As you can imagine saying goodbye after such a long intense time is very sad and I still got a lump in my throat while writing these lines but our flights were booked and the luggage ready for departure.
The 6th of January was another lovely Lao day with blue sky and plenty of sunbeams. Nevertheless, the daily routine was sort of different to the usual procedure. In the morning we took the opportunity to say goodbye to our teachers and pupils. We handed over some useful presents like crayons and pencils for the kids and English dictionaries for the teachers. Everybody experienced some last heart-warming moments and one or another tear could not be held back.
Our last task had been to prepare a short workshop about our English Lending Library and all of the Lao teachers attended. This gave us the chance to give appreciation to them publicly for their work, help, friendliness and effort throughout this closing first chapter and pilot project phase.
Besides some warm words from our side Prof Martin and Johannes handed over “Certificates of English” to our Lao colleagues. They were really proud of themselves and could not hide it: Happy faces all around. Special thanks went out to the directors of both schools, who then took the opportunity to also give speeches of thanks (we think – this was in Lao).
The highlight of this farewell celebration was the deliverance of special “Vouchers” for four special English teachers. To foster their development in the English language Mit, Noy, Souvanh and Done Keo received a voucher for a visit to an English Language College in Great Britain. By their puzzled and surprised looks one could easily tell that they did not exactly realize what they had just received: The opportunity to go on a trip to Great Britain to improve their English in an authentic setting under the supervision of professionals for 3 months in a row. It took them a while to let this amazing news sink in.Prof Martin finished by extending the thanks round to our side of the team: We, the volunteers, Johannes, as well as Gerlinde Engel were presented with hand-made decorative boxes with home-made Xmassy sweets inside.
Then the time had come for some last words and hugs. Quite sentimental moments for all of us. After we took some last group photos on the schoolyard we had to rush off to catch our plane and that was the end of the first chapter in Laos. Goodbye.
Text by T. Mayer
Photos by I. Martin & T. Mayer