Since 2006, we've been publishing books that make literacy fun for Lao children, as well as a growing number of books for older readers. We also do hands-on education. You can help, and also have an enriching travel exerience.
Spend a day at Big Sister Mouse in the countryside
Our new school, Big Sister Mouse, has students ranging from pre-school to young adults. Join us for a day! We offer transportation from our shop in town. Highlights of a typical day often include:
•Read a picture book with several first-graders. They learn new English words quickly and are eager to use what they've learned. By pointing to pictures, talking about what you see, and asking simple questions, you'll help them learn English in the way that children naturally learn a language best.
• Can you understand Lao sign language? You may be surprised. We have a full-time teaching assistant who is deaf. Children enjoy learning sign language from him, and it helps them learn to think about how sentences are formed from individual words. You'll enjoy learning a few words, too; some are very intuitive.
• Play a board game with third-graders. We've got chess, Blokus, Ten Days in Asia, some fun number games, and much more. Children will improve their English from the questions and brief conversations that come up while playing, while they also improve numeracy, spatial thinking, geography, and other skills.
• Have a 45-minute conversation with a young adult who grew up on a rice farm, then came here from the countryside to get a better education. Tell a bit about your country, and find out what he or she did while growing up.
• And then, learn a little Lao! The Lao word "mai" can have 4 different meanings, depending on the tone in which it is pronounced. Can you distinguish them?
• A home-cooked lunch is included, with vegetarian options.
No reservations are needed, please just be at our shop in central Luang Prabang at 9:00 a.m. sharp. (map) Groups of 6 or more, please make arrangements in advance. We'll get back at about 4:30. We go every weekday, Monday-Friday, year-round except major holidays. (We ask for a contribution toward food and fuel of 10,000 (U.S. $12) but if you're on a tight budget, this is optional. When we have extra, we use it to have field trips for children.)
If you expect to volunteer for a week or more, please let us know on your first day, so we can discuss with you if there are any special skills you have, that might be incorporated. For example, if you know traditional dances from your country, or can play guitar, or have art skills, and would like to teach those subjects, we'll be happy to see if we can arrange that.
If you'd like to volunteer for six months to a year, a visa is required, and we're happy to discuss the options with you, but first we ask you to help for about six weeks, so you can be sure it's a good fit.
Help young adults learn English
If you're in Luang Prabang, you can help young adults practice English conversation, daily at 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. More about English practice
Other volunteering at our office and shop
Helping at our Big Sister Mouse school, or at daily English practice, are usually the best way to make a difference when you're in Laos. We often hear from travelers who would like to volunteer in other ways. We appreciate the interest and support. But our language, culture, and ways of doing things are probably quite different from what you're used to. The suggestions above are the best ways to help. We occasionally do need volunteers for special projects. These situations change frequently and are posted in our Luang Prabang office; we regret that are not able to answer inquiries or discuss volunteer opportunities by email.