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10 steps and $4 bucks



 
 
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  #1  
Old January 15th, 2004, 07:14 AM
Peter Webb
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default 10 steps and $4 bucks

Great story, great idea.

"PaulDSmith" wrote in message
om...
Please critique this article I just wrote... Thanks, PDS

--------------------------------------------------

10 steps and $4 bucks

How I started an after-school program in Lao

Traveling in the villages of Lao, I finally felt off the beaten track.
There were no hotels, no cars, and despite the villagers' desire to
learn, little English. I wasn't the only backpacker, but the others
looked to be a well-traveled bunch. By going it cheaply and without a
set itinerary, we had each gathered amazing travel stories to tell
back home. Yet it still seemed we were only scratching the surface of
Lao culture. Could we somehow have even more intimate cultural
interactions in this village?

As we wondered the streets, explored water-falls and caves, and read
in our hammocks, we were surrounded by local kids. One trait was
consistent: they all wanted to practice their English. But the
conversations, though enthusiastic, were usually awkward and limited
to "What is your name?" and "How old are you?"

Could these kids' desire to practice English be matched with the
yearning we backpackers felt for a genuine cultural interaction?

Most EduTourism opportunities require a fair degree of planning, and
many cost money. Such programs are perfect for thousands of travelers
each year. But in this Lao village, I was surrounded by penny-pinching
back-packers who had set plans. Not surprisingly, there were no
EduTourism opportunities for them in this village.

So one afternoon, I decided set up a very simple after-school program
with these unpredictable backpackers in mind. Two hours and $4 later,
I watched a dozen tourists and local kids tutor each other to smiles
and laughter. The kids loved it, parents approved and some of the
backpackers told me it was a highlight of their trip. And it was so
simple to start; it felt like putting two magnets together.

Perhaps in your travels, you'll be inspired to setup a similar
after-school language exchange program. It's easy. Here are the steps
that helped me:

1. VILLAGE: Look for a smaller village where there are typically one
or two-dozen backpackers. This way, its small enough that you don't
have to "market," but big enough that there is a consistent supply of
back-packers.

2. HANG OUT: Spend a few days in the village. Meet the folks who run
the guesthouses and restaurants. As an excuse to interact, learn how
to write your name in Lao, cook a local dish, or do favors such as
re-writing a menu.

3. WHE Ask the owner of a centrally located restaurant, or monks in
the temple, if you can setup an hour long class in their space. Even
with no common language, such communication is possible if you're
patent and innovative.

4. SIGN: Write a sign that says "Teach English & Learn Lao. 2:00 to
3:00 each day." Ask a local to add "Teach Lao and Learn English" in
Lao. Try to pick a time that doesn't conflict with school or other
commitments of the kids. With permission, hang the sign outside the
restaurant.

5. PAPER: Buy a hand full of notebooks and some pens and pencils -
this is where the $4 comes in.

6. NOTE: Write a few copies of a note that reads, "Please come teach
us English and other languages and we'll teach you Lao. It's free, fun
and lasts one hour."

7. INVITE: A bit before 2:00, gather a few kids that speak some
English and give them the notes. Walk with them to the guesthouses to
invite backpackers. You may want to check with the guesthouse owners
before you "steal" their guests.

8. START: When enough kids and tourists arrive, start the session. I
was surprised at how most of the backpackers seemed to know what to do
once they realized anything goes.

9. END: After an hour, give a five minute warning, and then end the
session. It's considerate to create this natural breaking point so
people can leave, although some may stay longer. Rip out any used
pages for the kids, and put the pens and notebooks in a safe place to
tomorrow.

10. REPEAT: Do this a few days in a row. Encourage the kids to invite
backpackers on their own. Ask a tourist or two to carry the torch when
you leave. Give them your email so they can tell you how it's going
later.

* * *

These sessions are obviously not structured English classes. A tourist
might participate once or every day for a month. They are merely
opportunities for kids to learn and practice conversational English,
and just as importantly, for visitors to learn Lao.

Please don't assume every village wants such a program. It may compete
with a local English tutor or threaten a schoolteacher. The noise may
bother neighbors. It could distract the kids from other duties.
Parents may not want their kids to learn English or the kids may not
be interested.

On the other hand, it's unlikely a villager will ask you to help start
an after-school program on the hunch you're willing to help.

Of course you also have to decide if helping fulfill the desire to
learn English is "good" -nothing is without negative consequences.

But the happiness this program created for the kids, their parents and
other backpackers has made this effort the most amazing travel story I
tell back home.

Please drop a note if you have any questions, ideas, or if you
actually do something like this. Good luck.

Paul D. Smith




  #2  
Old January 15th, 2004, 01:28 PM
gerhard.luetzow
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default 10 steps and $4 bucks

Super idea.Do you think it will work in Myanmar too.IŽd love to try it!
Dr.Khin - Luetzow

Peter Webb wrote:
Great story, great idea.

"PaulDSmith" wrote in message
om...

Please critique this article I just wrote... Thanks, PDS

--------------------------------------------------

10 steps and $4 bucks

How I started an after-school program in Lao

Traveling in the villages of Lao, I finally felt off the beaten track.
There were no hotels, no cars, and despite the villagers' desire to
learn, little English. I wasn't the only backpacker, but the others
looked to be a well-traveled bunch. By going it cheaply and without a
set itinerary, we had each gathered amazing travel stories to tell
back home. Yet it still seemed we were only scratching the surface of
Lao culture. Could we somehow have even more intimate cultural
interactions in this village?

As we wondered the streets, explored water-falls and caves, and read
in our hammocks, we were surrounded by local kids. One trait was
consistent: they all wanted to practice their English. But the
conversations, though enthusiastic, were usually awkward and limited
to "What is your name?" and "How old are you?"

Could these kids' desire to practice English be matched with the
yearning we backpackers felt for a genuine cultural interaction?

Most EduTourism opportunities require a fair degree of planning, and
many cost money. Such programs are perfect for thousands of travelers
each year. But in this Lao village, I was surrounded by penny-pinching
back-packers who had set plans. Not surprisingly, there were no
EduTourism opportunities for them in this village.

So one afternoon, I decided set up a very simple after-school program
with these unpredictable backpackers in mind. Two hours and $4 later,
I watched a dozen tourists and local kids tutor each other to smiles
and laughter. The kids loved it, parents approved and some of the
backpackers told me it was a highlight of their trip. And it was so
simple to start; it felt like putting two magnets together.

Perhaps in your travels, you'll be inspired to setup a similar
after-school language exchange program. It's easy. Here are the steps
that helped me:

1. VILLAGE: Look for a smaller village where there are typically one
or two-dozen backpackers. This way, its small enough that you don't
have to "market," but big enough that there is a consistent supply of
back-packers.

2. HANG OUT: Spend a few days in the village. Meet the folks who run
the guesthouses and restaurants. As an excuse to interact, learn how
to write your name in Lao, cook a local dish, or do favors such as
re-writing a menu.

3. WHE Ask the owner of a centrally located restaurant, or monks in
the temple, if you can setup an hour long class in their space. Even
with no common language, such communication is possible if you're
patent and innovative.

4. SIGN: Write a sign that says "Teach English & Learn Lao. 2:00 to
3:00 each day." Ask a local to add "Teach Lao and Learn English" in
Lao. Try to pick a time that doesn't conflict with school or other
commitments of the kids. With permission, hang the sign outside the
restaurant.

5. PAPER: Buy a hand full of notebooks and some pens and pencils -
this is where the $4 comes in.

6. NOTE: Write a few copies of a note that reads, "Please come teach
us English and other languages and we'll teach you Lao. It's free, fun
and lasts one hour."

7. INVITE: A bit before 2:00, gather a few kids that speak some
English and give them the notes. Walk with them to the guesthouses to
invite backpackers. You may want to check with the guesthouse owners
before you "steal" their guests.

8. START: When enough kids and tourists arrive, start the session. I
was surprised at how most of the backpackers seemed to know what to do
once they realized anything goes.

9. END: After an hour, give a five minute warning, and then end the
session. It's considerate to create this natural breaking point so
people can leave, although some may stay longer. Rip out any used
pages for the kids, and put the pens and notebooks in a safe place to
tomorrow.

10. REPEAT: Do this a few days in a row. Encourage the kids to invite
backpackers on their own. Ask a tourist or two to carry the torch when
you leave. Give them your email so they can tell you how it's going
later.

* * *

These sessions are obviously not structured English classes. A tourist
might participate once or every day for a month. They are merely
opportunities for kids to learn and practice conversational English,
and just as importantly, for visitors to learn Lao.

Please don't assume every village wants such a program. It may compete
with a local English tutor or threaten a schoolteacher. The noise may
bother neighbors. It could distract the kids from other duties.
Parents may not want their kids to learn English or the kids may not
be interested.

On the other hand, it's unlikely a villager will ask you to help start
an after-school program on the hunch you're willing to help.

Of course you also have to decide if helping fulfill the desire to
learn English is "good" -nothing is without negative consequences.

But the happiness this program created for the kids, their parents and
other backpackers has made this effort the most amazing travel story I
tell back home.

Please drop a note if you have any questions, ideas, or if you
actually do something like this. Good luck.

Paul D. Smith






 




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