Book Party In Luang Prabang!

Trip Start Sep 06, 2011
Trip End Aug 31, 2012

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hello again from Luang Prabang!

This morning I went to a book party organized by Big Brother Mouse, the reading center. It was a great experience, maybe even my favourite so far!

My friend Carolyn and our new French friend Johann came with me to the book party. It took us about 40 minutes in a minibus to get to Thin Som Primary School. It is in the countrside outside of Luang Prabang town. From the school building you can see the wooden houses of the village, palm trees and mountains. Beautiful!

When we arrived at 8.30 the children were eagerly awaiting us in their classrooms. As we walked into the school lots of them called out 'sabaidee!' which means 'hello' in Laos. They were very friendly and made us feel very welcome. The first thing I noticed is that the school is a very simple building. There is no assembly hall, no library room with computers, not even a hallway. There is just one building for the five classrooms, another one for the washrooms, and that's it! You can see the whole school from the picture I tok from the field.

Children in Laos go to school for three semesters, just like in Canada. However, they have to pay to go to school, which is very different from Canada! They pay thirty thousand kip a semester, which sounds like a lot, but is really just about four dollars. They also have to buy their own workbooks and pens, which costs another thirty thousand kip. It doesn't sound like a lot to us, but it is a lot of money here in Laos, especially because lots of people have many children. One of the book party organizers told me that he has eight brothers and sisters! Most people in Laos live in less than one dollar a day, so school is very expensive for them.

We stayed at the school until lunchtime, and did lots of activities with the children. First we gave every child a piece of paper and a pencil, and chalenged them to a drawing competition! It was funny because even though they were allowed to draw anything they liked, most of the children drew animals. My friends and I were the judges, and the winners won an extra book at the end of the day.

After the drawing competition, we joined in with some writing practise in a classroom. We learned how to write some of the Laos aphabet! You can see in the picture I took that it's a very beautiful alphabet, but it seems very difficult to us! I learned that there are 26 letters in their alphabet, just like ours! The children thought it was very funny that we sat with them and did the same work as they did. They giggled a lot!

We also played lots of fun games outside with the children. My favourite game was when everyone stood in a big circle, and sang a song while they passed two balls around the circle. When the teacher blew a whistle, everyone stopped singing and whoever had the balls had to put baby powder on their face! It seemed very strange at first but soon I was laughing so hard I thought I would fall over. I took lots of pictures of this game!

The whole school sat outside to sing some songs. They taught us the actions to go along with the song, so after a while we could join in with them, even though we didn't understand the words they were singing! I think it was about a cat and a mouse, because they kept making 'miaow' and 'squeak squeak' noises.

After all the fun and games it was time to give the children their books. Every child got to come up to the front and choose one book to take home with them. Most Laos children will never have a book of their own, so it was wonderful to see how excited they were. We also gave a gift of eighty more books to the school, to start a library collection, and five textbooks to each teacher. Everybody was so happy, including me! I love reading so much, and it's a great feeling to give these children access to books. When we gave them their gifts, everyone put their hands together, bowed their heads and said 'korp jai', which is how they say 'thank you' in Laos.

I am so happy that I was able to take part in the book party today, I hope you enjoyed reading about it! Does anyone have any questions?

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Leah Bechtel on

I liked the story about the game with the baby powder. did you get any on your face? It sounds very funny.

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