Luang Prabang is the former royal capital of Laos, a relaxing town located on the Mekong River, about 900 km northeast of Bangkok, Thailand. The fusion of French and Asian culture and charm make for a wonderful setting to experience a unique culture. The 200-year old Wat Siphoutthabat stands at the base of Mt. Phousii in the heart of historic Luang Prabang, the largest school for monks in the city. The surrounding hills contain traditional villages, waterfalls and other scenic pleasures.
Gain practical teaching experience on this three-month teaching internship in Laos. Live and work in the UNESCO listed heritage site, Luang Prabang, teaching English to children and young adults while getting to know the diverse cultures of Laos.
Live and work with other interns in the ancient capital of Laos, Luang Prabang, famous for its many gilded Buddhist temples. Complete a training program, allowing you to learn the basics of teaching English as a foreign language abroad, before going on to support interns, volunteers, and local and international teachers in the classroom environment.
GVI education interns in Laos teach English at local educational institutions in Luang Prabang from Monday to Friday for approximately 4 to 6 hours a day. Students are aged between 8 and twenty five years old and the level of English understanding varies from beginner to advanced. Interns have the opportunity to teach a wide range of topics, including grammar, practical language, conversational language, professional language, and subject-based classes. They will have access to educational theory through teaching resources, international and local teachers they will work with, and GVI staff trained in Teaching English as Foreign Language or TEFL. Through working day-to-day on the project they will also earn practical experience teaching abroad.
Contribute to UN SDG, #4, Quality Education.
Gain real-world teaching experience.
Receive 360 degree support from trained TEFL staff both in the classroom and out.
By completing your teaching internship abroad with GVI in Laos interns will also be contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development, UN SDG, #4, Quality Education. Because access to education increases further the ability of students to progress on to higher academic levels and access a wider range of job opportunities they will also be contributing to UN SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Weekends are free for interns to use to explore the surrounding area, go on a Mekong river cruise to the Pak Ou sacred caves or swim in the cascading pools of the Kuang Si Waterfalls.
*The details of project work may vary at any given time. During the school terms, participants may work with novice monks, or other children and young adults in the community. During the summer months, from approximately June to late August participants may also contribute to a range of summer programs for children and young adults. Laos also has many festivals and holidays. During these times the community might not be holding educational classes but participants will have the opportunity to get involved in local celebrations and other cultural activities.
Life On Base
Live with other participants from around the world in the ancient city of Luang Prabang, among Buddhist temples, rolling hills, and the mighty Mekong river. The GVI base is situated at a quaint guesthouse, with an outdoor space where participants can relax and take in the tranquil atmosphere of the capital of Laos. Project work continues from Monday to Friday at local educational centers around town and meals are available at restaurants on base. In your free time learn more about the many cultures of Laos, by taking additional language lessons, exploring nearby temples, or visiting a rice farm. Bond with new friends while visiting the beautiful Si Kuang falls or taking a river cruise down to the historic Pak Ou Caves, filled with thousands of images of the Buddha.
Participants live in a guesthouse and typically share a room with one other volunteer. Bathrooms are also shared and feature hot water showers and Western-style toilets.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at one of two local restaurants on base. Cuisine includes both traditional Laos dishes and Western meals. Eggs, pancakes, toast with butter and jam, and a range of southeast Asian fruits are common for breakfast, and or lunch and dinner, participants can choose from a range of dishes.
Wifi is available at the accommodation and at our GVI offices.
TRANSPORTATION Participants can easily walk to project from their accommodation.
CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE DRESS AND BEHAVIOUR
Bear in mind that Laos is a rather conservative country. You will need to dress modestly and behave in a way that shows respect to local novice monks and those who have taken their full monastic vows. Upon arrival in the country, GVI staff will teach you about all these practices so as to know how to act in an appropriate manner.
Like the many other Southeast Asian destinations surrounding it, Laos has a tropical climate. Temperatures reach their height from March to April at 35 °C or 95 °F on average. The coolest time is during November to February when the temperature can drop to 14 °C or 57 °F. The Laos rainy season starts in May and ends in October. During this time temperatures remain rather warm however, ranging from the high 20s or 30 degrees °C or high 60s to low 90s °F.
What's It like?
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Luang-Prabang's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Meet The Team - Senior Field Management
Deputy Director of Programs
Meet GVI’s Jill,also known by her rap name, Rainmaker, or her spiritual name, Field Whisperer. Her journey with GVI began back in 2007 as Thailand's Country Director, where she helped set up GVI’s first TEFL program!
Now she is based in Chaing Rai, Thailand. Jill's role involves providing support for all of our programs around the world. Working closing with each base, she looks to identify and manage any issues that occur so GVI are able to offer the best programs possible.
Meet Katie, a 26-year-old from the US! She is another one of our Field Staff in Laos. It was originally a trip to India which inspired her journey to where she is now. The time spent reflecting on this trip made her realise making a real difference is what she wanted to do and is why she is where she is now.
Regional Director for Southeast Asia
Meet Molly, our hard working Regional Director for Southeast Asia. Overseeing operations in 3 countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.
Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Cambodia.
Meet The Team - In-Country Staff
Meet Beatrice! She is 25 and from Italy. She works as an Education Coordinator at GVI’s base in Luang Prabang,Laos.
She began with GVI back in 2016 when she volunteered for one month in Laos. Once she arrived back in Italy she realised she wanted to come back for more! And after completing this second stint, we offered her a position as Scholar for the base. She eventually applied for a job with GVI and is now one of our staff members!
Introducing you to George, who is 27 and from England. Geoge first found GVI in 2015, when he volunteered in Laos as part of a career break. After completing his program, he realised this is what he wanted to do with his life and decided to return to Laos as a six month intern. After this he got a job with GVI working with the interns in a village north of Luang Prabang.
Soon after this he earned the position of Field Staff, before being promoted to Education Coordinator, which is his current role. As part of this job he is responsible for: creating curriculums, mentoring, lesson planning and resourcing.
This is George, one of our Field Staff in Laos. His journey to this position has been eventful to say the least. He first became involved with GVI when volunteering back in 2015 after taking a career break. George loved the program so much he returned as an intern, which ended in a job with GVI. We hope that George doesn't want to end his career break anytime soon!
This is Lyly. She first found GVI after her brothers and sister came to study English with GVI. Now Lyly is proud to say that she is GVI’s first Lao female member of staff!
Meet Valee. Valee lives in the mountains and was a Novice in a temple for 7 years. He has worked for GVI for 4 years and since introduced some of his siblings to GVI programs. His role includes teaching and translating for classes, and organising locations for meetings.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Laos, specifically Luang Prabang, is quickly becoming a popular Southeast Asian destination among international visitors. As a result the tourism industry is a growing rapidly which provides many locals with new career opportunities. However, English language skills are an important requirement for accessing these jobs.
Three quarters of the population live in rural areas and economic limitations, limited infrastructure, and deep-rooted cultural values, restrict access to education for many. Boys from rural villages travel to cities such as the capital of Luang Prabang to seek out a good education by joining the temples and becoming novice monks. Temples do not accept girls, so women are further restricted from accessing employment opportunities through entrenched gender roles.
Our program in Laos assists the socio-economic development of the country by supporting English language learning at temple schools and other local educational institutions in the capital of Luang Prabang. We assist local teachers, novice monks, lay students, including both children and young adults, and run a program that focuses specifically on providing further educational support for young girls and women.
As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include, #4, Quality Education, and #5, Gender Equality.
Our Partners In Luang Prabang
GVI Luang Prabang Long-term Objectives:
1. To empower locals to increase their access to employment opportunities and improve their socio-economic status through increased access to educational opportunities.
2. To develop relationships with educational institutions, temples, partners and individuals with the aim of increasing their ability to provide educational opportunities (local leadership and capacity building).
3. Provide an authentic experience to GVI Laos volunteers, which develop both personal and professional skills within the field of education and community development through thorough training and mentorship by long term staff.
The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.
GVI Laos Luang Prabang Annual Report 2018
Leyla Isin, Katherine Ippolito, Elizabeth Wells, George Williamson
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.
Health and Safety Training
Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.
Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
For All Participants at Luang Prabang
Tsev Neeg Microenterprise Talk
Tsev Neeg is a small, family-run business. Learn more about how small businesses like this are founded in Laos, the challenges they face, and why they are important for the future of the Laos economy. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.
Laos is a mostly Theravada Buddhist country, and before starting on the project you will learn how to dress and behave in way that is respectful to Buddhist practices. You might also have the opportunity walk around the local area and chant in a local temple.
Lao Language Demonstration and Lesson
Learn some key Laos phrases.
Introduction To TEFL
Learn best practices for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Experience an immersive TEFL-inspired lesson, where no English is spoken throughout the entire class. This gives participants the opportunity to walk a mile in their students’ shoes.
This includes an introduction to the resource room, writing and grammar training, as well as lesson planning.
Additional Lao Lessons
Enhance your knowledge of the Laos language with further lessons. These lessons are optional for those who would like to learn more.
Buddhism Culture Talk
Learn more about the history of Theravada Buddhism and its modern day practices. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.
Hmong Culture Talk
Learn about the Hmong cultural group, including their language and specific rituals. These talks are optional for those who would like to learn more.
Your Program Specific Training
GVI’s ILM Endorsed Leadership Training
This includes several presentations on leadership-related topics as well as practical applications of the topics, weekly one-on-one meetings with an assigned mentor, and a final leadership project.
GVI’s ILM Endorsed Leadership Certificate
GVI’s Leadership Course helps participants master theoretical concepts related to team-leading and put them into practice through a series of presentations, activities, reflection periods, assignments and weekly one-on-one sessions with a designated mentor. The course is endorsed by The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), a research body consisting for over 30,000 leadership professionals. This certified course is included in program fees of all GVI internships, but can also be added onto any GVI program of 4 weeks or longer. Participants who complete the course will receive a 12-month membership ILM which provides access to their knowledge bank of leadership development resources.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
Rice farm visit
Learn how rice is made and even participate in the production by visiting one of the many nearby rice farms.
There are plenty of opportunities to kayak down the Mekong or other smaller river.
Another way to explore the scenic landscapes of this Southeast Asian gem is on a mountain bike. Rent one in Luang Prabang and choose one of the many trails in the nearby countryside.
Nong Khiaw Hike
Trek up to the top of Nong Khiaw to Phadeng Peak to be rewarded with amazing vistas over the famously spectacular scenery of Laos.
Royal Palace Museum
Visit the sprawling Royal Palace complex to learn more about Laos history or relax in the colonial gardens.
Visit some of the many beautiful Buddhist temples, or Wats, in Luang Prabang. Some of the most popular include Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai.
Pak Ou Caves
Take a Mekong river boat ride the sacred cave site filled with thousands of image of the Buddha.
Kuang Si or Tad Sae Waterfall
The magical cascading turquoise pools of the Kuang Si and Tad Sae falls are not far from Luang Prabang.
Laos has been known for its silk production, unique dying and weaving patterns since ancient times. Visit the weaving village to learn about how this textile is made the traditional way.
Southeast Asian Mekong River Cruise
Book a luxurious Mekong river cruise from Laos through to nearby Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Vat Phou is an ancient Khmer Hindu temple. Learn more about the ancient Khmer empire by exploring the vast complex.
Visit the Vang Vieng, a holiday resort town catering to international visitors to Loas. Tube and kayak on the Nam Song river and hike or climb the local hillsides.
Nam Ha Npa
Experience the biodiversity of Laos by visiting Nam Ha Npa. You could spot rare species like the the Asian elephant, tiger, and the clouded leopard.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
April: Lao New Year is celebrated in mid-April and is a massive festival in which just about every citizen participates. It represents the lunar new year and during this time homes are cleaned and people visit temples to wash the figures of the Buddha.
May: The Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in May with much fanfare.
August, September, October, and November: The Boat Racing Festival starts in August and continues for six weeks until October. This corresponds to when Buddhist monks complete their three month retreat. The retreat ends with Boun Awk Phansa, a festival of lights and water dragon boats.
Spirituality and Religion
Laos has a mostly Theravada Buddhist population, however there is also a significant portion of the population who still practice their traditional animist customs.
Weaving and Pottery
Silk creation is a centuries old craft in Laos, although it has become less popular due to its time-consuming process. You can learn about how this beautiful textile is hand-produced in a nearby village. Ceramics are also an important part of Laos traditional art and culture. You also learn more about this Laos artform by visiting a village near Luang Prabang.
Laos cuisine shares many elements with other Southeastern Asian neighbours. Staples include the famous sticky rice and fresh, spicy papaya salad. Its French heritage comes out in the many baguettes still sold by street vendors.
Other than Laos, there are also opportunities to learn some of the other languages native to the country like Hmong and Khmu.
Discover Laos’ ancient capital of Luang Prabang, a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has roots dating back more than 8 millennial but first became an official city under the Khmer monarchy. Later the city became a French colonialist outpost forever impacting the cuisine and architecture. Its many temples feature traditional Laos and French colonial elements combined.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency phone
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Certification and summary of training and experience received
Confidential professional reference
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)