Ex-Volunteer reminisces about his time with GVI at Wat Na Xang
eight weeks in Luang Prabang, Laos, as a volunteer English teacher with GlobalVision International (GVI).
Doug, under the guidance of GVI, was able to fulfil a dream, working from the early days to set up an English school in the Buddhist temple, Wat Naxang, Sarayama. When we started in this temple, there were eight novice monks and eight village children keen to learn but no desks or chairs so school work was done seated on the floor with some of the younger students (six years old) wrestling or falling asleep.
Two weeks into my stay, Novice Wonsai was admitted to hospital for 2 weeks with dengue fever.
This was a difficult time as he was our Lao interpreter: classes were kept very simple – ABC, colours, shapes and songs (‘hokey pokey’ was a stand out). By the time Novice Wonsai returned, the class had grown to twenty four, with ages ranging from six years to twenty.
I met with the program manager of GVI Laos, Tricia Feeney and suggested we split the class in two, Elementary and Beginners; some of the students were advancing at a great rate. Tricia and Novice Wonsai arranged a program with two classes. By this time, Novice Wonsai had acquired some desks and chairs (in very bad repair) but this took the standard of education to another level.
Things were going well until Novice Wonsai’s Chinese language lessons clashed with our English classes: a very tough week without an interpreter. After discussing the difficulties of not having an interpreter with Novice Wonsai, he readily agreed to rearrange his studies (thirteen subjects), to work in with our English classes.
|Doug with teacher Novice Wonxai and students in Elementary class|
This eight week teaching program was probably the most rewarding experience I have ever had.
I was lucky enough to be totally accepted by the temple and on two occasions prepared meals for the Novices and Monks: Cooking Skills courtesy of Liberation Larder Byron Bay – thanks to Honu Dawson and all the helpers who have been my teachers.
Afterwards Novice Wonsai walked over to me with the biggest smile: “Doug do you know this Monk?” ”No” I replied. ”He is the Abbott of the Temple!” A most senior and respected man, the Abbott just looked at me and smiled.
My colleague and friend, Novice Wonsai, who started the school and then approached Tricia and
GVI for support, is the most amazing , humble and compassionate person I have met. I thought this lovely man was in his twenties and it wasn’t until my last week that Tricia told me this remarkable person was nineteen! At the time, tears filled my eyes and even now, several weeks later, when I think back my eyes still fill: Novice Wonsai – what an amazing human being!
Congratulations, GVI, for a wonderful program that I will continue to support.
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