This photo was taken from the first floor of the Lao-American College in Vientiane. I went there with a group of teachers to provide teacher training for Lao teachers of English who can’t afford to go out to the big linguistics conferences for upskilling. The LAC, who hosted the mini-conference, was really great in making us feel welcome and even provided a wonderful leaving ceremony including food and performances by the students that I will talk about for years. Working with my talented colleagues as well as the local teachers was a fantastic experience in grass roots action as that information will filter down to other teachers and also to the students.
It was the first time I’d been to Laos despite having spent lots of time in surrounding countries and I was surprised to find that Vientiane felt like some places I had been in India (except for the lack of crowds!). The fun part was that most people understand Thai so I attempted to use my rudimentary Thai to communicate with Laotians. They would then tell me what the words should be in Lao and then laugh at my attempts to switch over. That brings my number of tonal languages that I can successfully butcher and embarrass myself in up to 3, hurrah!
I’m reviving this poor old neglected blog. Or at least I’m going to do my best! I’m off to Thailand and Laos in just two days (actually one if you count my day in Tokyo beforehand) and I can’t get my head around my presentations. I’ve pretty much finished two of them, but the third one is glaring at me from it’s little minimised box at the bottom of my screen. I wish I’d said that I would only do two, but it seemed like three was the only option.
The first ten days of my trip will be in a little place called Pak Chong in northern Thailand where two other teachers, me, and a group of students from my college will be building a house with Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org/ap/ . I’ve bought my workgloves, have packed my old cross-trainers, and am ready to go.
After that, I’m going to spend a couple of weeks in Bangkok. I can’t wait! Bangkok, despite the pollution and all the other bad things people point out, is actually one of my favourite cities in the world. And it’s exciting how quickly things are changing there. Our favourite vegetarian cafe, which was once just two foldable tables on the side of a street has slowly blossomed. Just ten years from eating with your feet by the sewer to this http://www.thaivegetarianrecipes.com/. May Kaidee now has a cooking school and guesthouse. But thank god she’s still making my favourite mango, warm coconut milk, and red sticky rice pudding.
Finally, I’m off to Laos for the first time. I’ve always wanted to go there and we just never quite fit it in. I’ll be working with Teachers Helping Teachers and giving presentations to local Lao teachers of English. They can’t really afford to go to the big international conferences and so this one is being brought to them by a bunch of really cool teachers who are volunteering their time, efforts and money. www.geocities.com/yamataro670/tht.htm I’m really looking forward to having a good look round Vientiane. We’ve already been offered a tour of a coffee plantation.
I really can’t procrastinate any longer. Gong he fa choi!