Letters from Laos (Savannakhet, no. 2) – “A special gift from Germany” by Viengvilaiphone Botthoulath (Erasmus+ participant)
My name is Viengvilaiphone Botthoulath. I am 26 years old and as my background is Biotechnology therefore, I am recently working as a lecturer at the Department of Food Processing Technology, Faculty of Food Science, Savannakhet University. Currently, I am mainly teaching Food Microbiology and Food Biochemistry, plus English for development and technology subjects for senior students in my department.
As my background is Biotechnology therefore my working is almost involved in laboratory. Taken together, I also teach English in both internal and external University. For the external teaching, it is my part time job.1
In my spare time, I love to listen to music, listen to philosophy, cooking, and doing Yoga. I am always excited and delighted to learn new things, exchange experiences with experts, help people, and make new friends.
When I was young, I had a dream that I would like to have a chance to touch the spectacular of reality Europe countries. Then I know that I got invited to be one of the exchange staff mobility for training between KarIsruhe University of Education, KarIsruhe, Germany and Savannakhet University, Laos. At that time, I just told myself that wow! my dream comes true. Now, it’s time for me to get rid of all hesitation. I should let my feet off the ground, the time is now my journey is going to start. I am very lucky that I got a chance to meet Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin and her volunteer assistant, David Schrep.3 I am in his class, and he showed us many new teaching techniques.
They gave me such a wonderful gift in my life. Therefore, I should take this opportunity to do my best. For my visiting 2 months there (in May-June) on a “Training Mobility”, I will have many activities to do such as job shadowing of colleagues in the Biology and English Department, Lesson observations, exchanging and learning about the biodiversity of both countries, tandem-teaching, visiting at schools or relevant institutions. I can also visit any classes at PH Karlsruhe.
I am very happy to learning as much as possible about German culture and language. I am also really looking forward to meet Dr Martin Remmele from PH Karlsruhe for his presentation on interest topics such as digital visualizations for learning biology or species knowledge and species identification when he arrives in Savannekhet soon on his “Training Mobility” in the project. This will be initial for our collaborative research in the future.
I am sure that I this project will be enriching my experiences as internationalization and I can convey the knowledge learned, to bring most benefits to my university.
See you soon!
Text by V. Botthoulath, notes by I. Martin
Photos by V. Botthoulath & A. Sayta
1 It is normal for Lao teachers to have a second job (e.g. private English lessons) for subsistence and/or to have a small family farm, rice-fields, or fish ponds on the side because salaries are low or may not be paid regularly, sometimes not at all. University teachers with a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree who come from other provinces may be hired as “Volunteers” without pay for three or four years. Depending on their degree but also on performance amongst other things, they may then get permanent positions. The salary then depends on the degree and position, from then on also on the length of service. The average salary for a Bachelor teacher at university is about $120/month, for a Master about $150/month, and with a Doctorate $300/month.
2 The dam collapse in Attapeu on 23 July 2018 after heavy rains caused flash flooding through dozens of surrounding villages, a high number of casualties, and homelessness to thousands (cf. The New York Times, The Guardian, or BBC news report).
3 SKU and PH Karlsruhe have two cooperations: One is the Erasmus+ Mobility Programme (2018-2020), the other one an independent cooperation between both universities formed on 23 April 2018 “to enhance academic cooperation and to develop academic mobility as well as cultural exchange, student and staff exchanges, reseachers, and other related activities” (MoU confirmation letter of 21 February 2019). It is part of the larger educational network strengthening ties between Europe and Asia. (New blog posts about these are forthcoming.)