In August last year I made the decision of leaving a fantastic job in a Bluechip company in London to embark on a once in lifetime adventure: making a personal commitment to explore this beautiful planet we live in.
Every day I wake up I cannot help to realise how lucky I am as a person to be living this wonderful dream. It's things like having a quality education, coming from a first world country, owning a passport, benefitting from good health and having a good job or savings that make the difference. And I've come to the conclusion that it's pure luck, and that's there's no other explanation to it. My commitment was therefore to make the most out of this gift, absorb as much as I could from others and give back to those who weren't as lucky as I was.
Highly unsatisfied with my previous office jobs and realizing how happy and fulfilled I felt when sharing time with kids and coaching young people, I wanted to find any possible opportunity to volunteer in a project, and teaching English seemed like a perfect idea that I was open to explore.
Being in Laos, I came across Aay's Village while searching for teaching/couching communities on Facebook. I felt incredibly identified with their philosophy and emailed them directly to showcase my interest in joining them for a week in teaching. The response was immediate and the team was extremely excited to have me and my boyfriend on board.
A little background story first:
Aay, the Founder of Aay's Village, had a dream. He wanted to help the people of his village get a better future by teaching their young people English, basic IT and business, aiming to turn a poor fate with the most powerful tool: Education.
In 2009, farmers from different ethnicities (Lao, Khmou and Hmong) were forced by the government to move out of their previous lands throughout the country due to the construction of a dam. Over 6,000 displaced people founded a new village in the middle of the mountains, Phonsavath, far away from their homes and with the unexpected surprise of finding no sufficient land to plant their rice and no drinking water. Today, due to the lack of possibilities to continue with their lives as farmers, many have to commute to the capital Vientiane or return back to their original villages despite the flooding risks.
Ponsavath is a beautiful and quiet village in the middle of the Lao jungle. There's currently so many kids in the village, that students have to go on shifts to school, some go in the morning, some in the afternoons. Aay's Village teaches over 120 kids divided in 3 different groups that go from 6-19 years old, from Monday to Friday, every evening. And I had now the opportunity I wanted and that only volunteering could offer me.
At first, I was overwhelmed with the number of kids on each class. But I was soon surprised by how incredibly disciplined the kids were and how eager everyone was to learn something new each day. Aay is absolutely amazing with them and the team behind him in the Nordics is key in make things happen.
I had total freedom to participate and suggest ideas to plan each lesson, which I found so interesting. This isn't something easy and requires analysing capabilities to teach a foreign language having in mind 50 kids that barely understood me, not to mention the limited attention span small kids can have sometimes.
It's incredible how much I've learnt in just a week. From lesson planning, to public speaking, to working on the ability to analyse and synthesise, to develop my charisma and improvise as well as to push my creativity to make learning fun and constructive at the same time.
However there's two main take aways for me in this volunteering experience at Aay's Village. First of all, an incredible personal reward to see the grateful faces of those kids and seeing how they've have been able to learn so many things from our time together, and second of all, how this experience has finally given me the push I needed to truly explore and fight for the professional career that I know makes me happy.