We are Team XI – Introduction
Team XI – Preparation in times of the Coronavirus
Today we are happy to finally introduce ourselves to you. We are Team XI, a team of five students studying Primary or Secondary Education at the University of Education in Karlsruhe.
Team XI includes Anne-Sophie Brunold, Leona Kemmer, Leonie Konstandin, Charlotte O´Dell, and Eleanor Wheeler.
Two of us are still in the Bachelor Degree programme, two are in the Master Degree programme, and one is currently doing her state examination.
We are all new to the project “Bi-directional learning and teaching project” (formerly called “Teaching English in Laos“) and have been looking forward to this adventure since being acepted into the programme. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus situation has made the preparatory process very challenging. Just like our predecessors, Team X, and all other teams before, we also had three 4-hour preparational workshops with Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin. Additionaly, we watched the news on the development in Southeast Asia, read the requirements for entry, and tried (and are still trying) to find flights to Laos. Currently we are still figuring out details regarding our visas, the mandatory hotel quarantine, and the corona rules in Laos.
Still we are optimistic that we will be able to come to Laos and support the project in person.
This is us:
Team XI.1 at the Sunshine School and at the Lao-German Technical College (LGTC), Vientiane
Hello, my name is Eleanor Wheeler, but all my friends and family call me Ellie. I am 24 years old and a student in my 5th semester of my primary school teacher’s degree. The subjects I study and will teach later on are English, history, German, and maths.
I will be working at the Sunshine School until February and then at the LGTC. Further details are still to be determined as the coronavirus pandemic keeps interferring with our planning. Nevertheless, I am already looking forward to getting to know the Sunshine School and LGTC teams very much! I look forward to my stay in Laos and to supporting the “Bi-directional learning and teaching project”. As I have not yet been to another continent I am very excited to experience Asian culture and cuisine.
In my free time I like to do sports such as jogging, cycling, and hiking in the forest. For my last holiday I cycled along the Danube river – 900 km in 7 days. Since 2007, I have been an active member of the local guides group the German Scouts. Scouting is a voluntary non-political youth movement. There I am currently elected to be head of guides of the federal states “Baden-Wuerttemberg” and “Bavaria”. Together with others I organise summer camps and other outdoor activities for different groups of youngsters.
Team XI.2 at the Vocational Education Development Institute (VEDI), Vientiane
Hello, my name is Leonie Konstandin, but I am often called by my nickname Leo. I am 22 years old and studying to become a teacher for elementary education. The subjects I am focusing on to teach later are German and English.
During my stay in Laos, I will be working at the Vocational Education Development Institute with Charlotte. We already know that we will be working with Mr Khonkhame as a tandem- teacher and will go ahead with planning details soon. I am really looking forward to the exciting time at the VEDI that lies ahead of me. When I was in 10th grade, I lived in the USA as an exchange student for a year and after my high school graduation in Germany I volunteered in South Africa as a childcare worker. Therefore, Asia will be the 3rd other continent that I will go to and I cannot wait to experience another new culture!
In my free time, I like to do many things such as meeting friends and doing sports like jogging. I love to cook and enjoy trying new food, which is why I am already curious about traditional Lao food. Furthermore, I love seeing new places. The last trip I took was to Berlin – the German capital.
My name is Charlotte O’Dell, but everybody calls me Charly. I am 27 years old and am currently finishing my state exams to become a teacher for secondary schools. My subjects are music, English, protestant theology, and art.
In my free-time I like to play the clarinet. I am a member of one of the local music club, the “Musikverein Knielingen e.V.”, and I am also part of the PH Big Band.
Additionally, I also teach the clarinet to children, and ever since 2017 I have been the conductor for the youth orchestra in Neuburgweier, Rheinstetten.
Furthermore, I enjoy playing bowling with my team “Fireball Feuerbach”.
Moreover, I have worked for the PH Karlsruhe as a tutor for TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) for the last three years, where my main objective was to help younger students to understand and practise methods and techniques for the English classroom in secondary schools.
I also enjoy tutoring primary and secondary school students in math and English.
In 2015 I was part of Prof. Dr. Isabel Martin’s “Singlish” Band, and we were performing two workshops for school children in the Castle Gardens on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the city of Karlsruhe when the Angels Foundation with their Lao delegation visited Prof. Martin for the first time. This is when I first heard of the bi-directional learning and teaching project in Laos. Ever since then I wanted to be part of this project, but due to my many other obligations I was not able to go to Laos. This is why I decided to use the three months between my last state exam and the beginning of my teaching career as the opportunity to be part of Team XI. I will be ideally working together with Leonie and our Lao partners at the VEDI if the Covid-19 situation allows it.
After 10th grade I spent a year in the United States of America, where I went to high school in Corrigan, Texas. Other than that I have never lived in a different country, so I am very excited to experience the Lao culture and country, especially since my only trip to Asia was an excursion to Israel in 2019, which was amazing, but sadly only very short.
Team XI.3 at the Sunshine School, Vientiane
Hello, my name is Leona Kemmer. I am 24 years old and I am currently in the second master semester, studying to become a primary teacher. My subjects are German, English and mathematics.
In my free time I like to read, meet my friends, and travel. I do athletics and I work as a waitress and babysitter, which is a lot of fun.
Anne-Sophie and I were supposed to be working at the Sunshine School in Vientiane from the end of September until the end of January. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the travel regulations, and the demands in our further studies, we decided to postpone our stay in Laos to the beginning of next year. We hope that the situation will have normalized to a degreee that we know we can enter and leave the country for sure. It was not an easy decision but nevertheless my thrill of anticipation to finally meet “Didi” (“sister”), the headmistress of the school, and her team is even stronger now.
My special task will be to take care of the Didactics room/Lending Library at the LGTC, which were modeled after the project’s Didactics Room and Lending Library in Ban Sikeud. We will bring a few books and items which will be added to the room or donated to our new partner.
I am really looking forward to the time in Laos.
Hello, my name is Anne-Sophie Brunold. I am 25 years old and currently studying in my second Master’s semester to become a primary teacher. My subjects are German, English and mathematics.
In my free time, I like to go to the gym, as well as dancing, singing, or going for a ride with my bike. Besides my studies I work in different theatres, and, due to the Corona Virus, also in video theater projects together with a theatre pedagogue, which is a lot of fun and combines my personal interests in theatre and performance with my goal to become a teacher and work in the pedagogical field.
Due to how things are going worldwide with the COVID-19 virus, Leona and I decided to postpone our stay in Laos. We really looked forward to going, and coming to this decision was no easy choice for us, but at the moment we cannot make any proper plans. We need to plan our next semester (enrolment starts today, on 1 October 2020), and so far there is little chance that we can spend the coming semester at the Sunshine School and experience Laos and its people in the way we hoped and wanted to. This is why we decided to go on with one more regular semester in Germany and hope things will be getting easier next spring.
We hope we are able to go next semester and then can also hopefully plan and prepare properly. We are positive-minded that things will get better and easier by March and look forward even more to really going then and getting to know all the helpful and nice people we got to know only via video calls and emails so far.
In the upcoming months we hope to finally enter Laos and get to work together as a team, do tandem-teaching, workshops, and experience Lao culture. Even though the Coronavirus has put a spike in the wheel also for us, we are sure that Laos and the experiences there will be amazing and well worth the wait.
Text by Team XI (L. Kemmer, A-S. Brunold, L. Konstandin, C. O´Dell & E. Wheeler)
Photos by P. Lang, B. Piorr-Kemmer, T. Wheeler-Schilling, C. O´Dell, P. A. Banfield, A.S. Jauernig