Volunteer Profile

By Ben Cohen 4 years ago
Categories Luang Prabang

Good day! My name is Ben Cohen and I just finished the English teaching program in Luang Prabang, Laos, with GVI. My story is a unique one. I was born in Bucharest, Romania, I was lucky enough to be adopted by my mother at the ripe old age of two. Although I have Romanian roots I really consider myself an Arizona boy, since I’ve spent most of my life in Phoenix, Arizona. I have a deep love and appreciation for the 110 degree (F) summers (43 C), the blazing sun, the cactus covered landscape along with a special place in my heart for hanging out poolside with a cold beer on a hot day.

My mother always had a bit of a travel bug and it has seemed to rub off on me a bit over the years. I was lucky enough to travel when I was younger and those experiences shaped where I am at today. Seeing as I just finished up my two year degree at college I thought it would be a perfect time to take a break from Phoenix and see the world a bit. Through GVI and some other independent travels I have been able to start my journey, going through such countries as Laos, Cambodia, China, Thailand and South Africa. I’ll be doing all sorts of things from teaching English, to working with sea turtles, to working in a resort on a Safari. And six of my eight months of travel will be with GVI over three different programs.

Teaching was an amazing and humbling experience. I honestly had no idea what to expect from Laos. But whatever expectations I did have, Luang Prabang definitely blew them away. The students have such a passion for learning that it makes it hard to not be motivated and inspried by their attitudes and commitment. The staff and accommodation were more than generous and extremely helpful whenever I needed anything. It is very clear that everyone on the program is passionate about creating a positve educational environment for all the students.

As far as Luang Prabang goes it isn’t a big city but there is definitely plenty to do. Between the waterfalls, village treks, elephant riding, caves, and a decent selection of bars around town  there is a little something for everyone. Laos was my first stop in Southeast Asia and to be honest, its a perfect introduction to this part of the world. The Lao people are genuinely friendly,  the food is great and the beer is cheap. Asking for a better experience for my first two months would be selfish. Although its sad leaving Laos and the many amazing people I’ve met a long the way, I can’t wait to see a little bit more of the world both independently and with GVI. Cheers!