COVID: Chapter closed – and the new beginning of “The Laos Experience” unfolds!
It is with the greatest pleasure that I announce – after three-and-a-half challenging years – that we are finally able to offer our “The Laos Experience” project again, which started in 2015. After the application process, interviews, three preparatory workshops, and several Lao events on campus during the summer term, Team XII is now keen and ready to start tandem-work in Vientiane next week. The five members of the team will tandem-teach and -learn at the Lao-German Technical College (LGTC), the Vocational Education Development Institute (VEDI), and Sunshine School.
We are most grateful to our direct partners in those three institutions of education and also to our old friends in the MoES (Ministry of Education and Sports), who helped to make this happen at long last – thank you very much – khop chai lai lai!
The Laos Experience is back with Team XII: We would like to introduce ourselves and tell you a little bit more about us individually. Read about us, our expectations, and our hopes for our journey! In the picture you can see the members of Team XII from right to left: Marie, Antonia, Patricia, Lilly, and Christian.
Let us introduce ourselves to you!
I am Marie, 27 years old, have a Master Degree in teaching English, and I am excited to be a member of team XII. My decision to take part in The Laos Experience was very spontaneous! I finished my studies at the University of Education in Karlsruhe in the summer of 2022. During my studies, classes like “Feminist theory and politics” or, more so, “Postcolonial Theory and Short Fiction” allowed me to grow a special interest in socially critical ways of thinking and – especially – decolonial teaching.
I took a leap of faith when I decided against the teacher traineeship year, which was scheduled to start in the February after I graduated. It just did not feel right yet, and so I left my comfort zone, took a position as a substitute teacher at a secondary school in Karlsruhe instead, and, overnight, applied for an internship at Sunshine School in the course of The Laos Experience (after the official Call for Applications had already ended) – and got it!
As my very own Laos experience is getting closer and closer, uncertainties grow, paperwork takes on a bigger role in my everyday life than I would want it to play, but the gratitude for the opportunity that is offered to me here comes with tons of excitement: for Laos as a country since I love traveling and being outdoors, its people and culture because I hope getting to know them will broaden my horizon and, of course, for Sunshine School as it appears to be so very different to how German schools work. I have always considered myself a sympathizer with alternative ways of thinking and other cultures. With Sunshine School being a female-led institution built on Buddhist values, I am extremely keen to see how this affects not only everyday classroom practices but also how it impacts pupils in their individual development. (If you are interested, watch the video “Yoga nun?” made by YouTubers “TheTravelingClatt”.)
My task within Team XII will be to keep track of our weekly meetings once we are in Laos, documenting all of our ideas and decisions by writing the minutes of each team meeting.
My name is Antonia and I am 24 years old. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree for English teaching. I study English and history at the University of Education in Karlsruhe to become a teacher for the secondary classroom. When I am not immersed in my studies, I enjoy reading books, listening to music, and spending time with my beloved ones.
Previous journeys have partly taken me through the landscapes of Southeast Asia before, and during my time in Vietnam, I often found myself approached by locals eager to practise their English with me. This experience, along with my month of teaching English to children in Thailand, opened my eyes to the perception that Europeans are automatically seen as skilled English speakers, which is – to us – a misconception. This concept is one of the reasons why the “Bi-directional Learning and Teaching Project” captured my attention; part of its purpose is to critically question existing views on both Western and Lao sides.
Furthermore, I am curious in how this project will influence me as a teacher and as an individual. Experiencing the Lao way of life, immersing into a different culture and interacting with new people are aspects I am truly looking forward to. Collaborating with Patricia, my partner in this adventure, fills me with anticipation. Together, we look forward to working with our tandem-partners, co-creating meaningful lessons, and designing engaging activities at the VEDI – the Vocational Education Development Institute – in Vientiane. Additionally, I will be overseeing the Didactics Room at the institution and also shouldering the role of media manager, responsible for gathering and organizing our materials.
My name is Patricia and I am 23 years old. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree for English teaching. I study English and History at the University of Education in Karlsruhe to become a future teacher for the secondary classroom, like Antonia.
I work part-time in a theatre, as I am very interested in film and also like to watch movies in my spare time. If my time allows it, I love to travel. My travels have so far been limited to Europe and I am looking forward to visiting another continent. Besides traveling, I love to spend my money on concerts and festivals, because I am a huge music fan as well. I live in a small village and I am curious to experience life in a capital city. Although I live in a small village, I have been exposed to different cultures in the past and I am looking forward to getting to know and love Lao culture. I enjoy working with other people and learning from each other. As someone who has been exposed almost exclusively to Western culture in life, I am looking forward to experiencing my life from a different perspective for the next few months.
Becoming a teacher has always been a dream of mine and to get closer to this dream in my professionalism, especially in English, I see the Laos Experience as a perfect way to realize that. As Antonia wrote, we are cooperating and building a team as a tandem and will teach at the Vocational Education Development Institute (VEDI) in Vientiane together. I am looking forward to working with her but also with our Lao tandem-partners. Additionally, I am the blog manager for Team XII and I am/we are also looking forward to posting some great impressions on this blog for you throughout the next few months!
My name is Lilly and I study at the University of Education in Karlsruhe for Secondary Education. My subjects are English and Everyday Culture and Health. The Laos project was one of the main reasons why I decided to study at the University of Education Karlsruhe (“PH”). This project is a great opportunity to get to know another country and its culture in depth. I have never been to Asia before and I am really looking forward to the new experiences I will gain. Through our unique chance of meeting Lao people, I will get a feeling of how nice and welcoming Lao people are. I am excited about the opportunity to teach in a tandem-team with an experienced teacher at the LGTC. I am sure that we can learn a lot from each other.
My main goal of teaching at the LGTC will be to get to know the Lao culture and broaden my experience as a teacher. I already collected experience as a teacher besides the mandatory internships by giving tutoring lessons, homeschooling two primary students, and working at a three-week summer school.
My name is Christian and my subjects are English and German (Secondary Education, Master Degree). The Laos project is, in my opinion, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to teach English and possibly German abroad. Since this will be my first time in Southeast Asia, I look forward to experiencing bi-directional teaching and learning at the LGTC. To teach in a new context and setting is going to be a challenge as well as an opportunity for me. Having met several Lao Erasmus+ partners from Savannakhet University at the PH in the summer term has given me the chance to experience the welcoming and kind nature of the Lao people.
Exchanging knowledge and conducting new teaching methods are the two main goals for my time teaching at the LGTC. For this purpose, I will form a team with Lilly and I am looking forward to work with her as well as our Lao tandem partners. Additionally, I will be in charge of scheduling and planning the meetings of Team XII.