Live in a stunning city, nestled in a valley between the Mekong River and majestic mountains and become part of a inviting and intriguing community. This is a fulfilling women’s empowerment program for volunteers looking to join a movement that aims to increase disadvantaged women’s access to education, helping to boost their future employability.
Duration: 4 – 12 weeks
Dates: 2019 and 2020 dates
Arrival day: Friday
Return day: Saturday
Eligibility: Good English speakers
- Helping women to learn English and make a real difference to their future.
- Team teaching and living with other passionate volunteers.
- Living in Luang Prabang – a city everyone should visit at least once!
- Experiencing fascinating Lao culture and religion and eat delicious food.
If you are looking to volunteer in Luang Prabang, Laos, as a teacher in such an extraordinary setting, this is the perfect project for you. The program focuses on improving education for women in the beautifully preserved city.
There are huge educational divides in Laos. Entrenched gender roles and a division between families from different socio-economic backgrounds mean that many women from poorer communities have limited access to education. As a result, women are under-represented in politics and high-earning professions. Women’s career paths are severely limited. Many girls leave their home in search of employment, making them extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Many women on the program have led difficult lives. The aim of this program is to help to break this cycle of inequality and to help local women to build their confidence and skills.
The women you will be teaching will be a range of ages and abilities. Your primary role will be to help the students with conversational English, focusing on how English can help them in a practical setting. Some lessons may incorporate IT, health and life skills. A few hours a week, you will be asked to teach lessons at a local English center, where you will teacher a variety of ages.
On Monday to Thursday, you will work 3-4 hours a day. These hours may differ each day. On some days, you may be asked to run evening classes. You will also have 2-3 hours a day to prepare lessons. One session a week will be at a local community English center. Volunteers will be able to teach a wide range of people, including monks, women and children. These lessons have often been considered as a highlight by past volunteers.
On top of this you will receive:
- Training on lesson planning, TEFL skills and specific women’s empowerment training
- Access to a teaching resource room in a local college
- A teaching mentor
- Handover notes from past volunteers to ensure consistency
- You will be living at a shared volunteer guesthouse.
- There are shared rooms and bathrooms at the accommodation.
- There are upgrade options if you would prefer to have your own room.
- Staff at the guest house are extremely friendly and welcoming.
- Your room will be cleaned once a week.
- To wash your clothes, you can pay a small fee to get your laundry done on site.
- The guesthouse has a curfew of 12pm, which is the same for everyone in Luang Prabang.
- On the first Friday, prior to the Saturday arrival date, you will need to book your own accommodation. We can offer advice on this.
- You will be provided with 3 authentic Lao meals a day, while at the guesthouse.
- Cooked by a local cook on site, you will get to experience delicious, local cuisine.
- Dietary requirements can be catered for.
- There are many different restaurants in the local area if you want a night out.
We are excited to offer our volunteers the opportunity to explore Thailand and Laos. Find out more about our South East Asia tour.
Airport: Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ)
Arrival day: The project begins on Saturday at 09:00 – you will need to book pre-project accommodation on Friday
Departure day: Saturday
The program coordinators will be there to support you from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave the project. You will also be assigned a teaching mentor, who will be able to support you with lesson planning. The team have been working in Luang Prabang since 2009 and have a lot of experience with working with volunteers and local schools and temples.
- Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
- Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
- Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
- In-country support
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
- Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Thorough orientation on arrival
- Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
- Advice on visa requirements
- Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help offset your carbon emissions
- Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
- You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
- Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
- Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Home country travel costs
- Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
- Accommodation for your first night in Luang Prabang
- Police check or DBS for UK participants – £10.40
Across the world, many countries do not provide equal education opportunities for men and women. This is the situation in Laos. Volunteers can make a real difference to local women, helping them to improve their English. By improving their English, the women will have access to a wider variety of jobs.
Volunteers will make life-long friends, gain amazing memories and return home with a real insight into life in Laos. For those looking to gain valuable teaching experience, teaching mentors will help you to gain the most out of your time in Laos.
Volunteers can truly feel part of a Lao community – eating authentic food, teaching local women and learning about the fascinating culture. Ideal volunteers need to be dedicated and hard-working. You do not need to have previous teaching experience, just lots of enthusiasm and a willingness to get stuck in. You will receive in-country teaching training, perfect for teachers looking to improve their skills or people who are interested in pursuing a teaching career. The team in Laos work hard to ensure that both the volunteers and the women who are enrolled in the classes get the best possible experience. This is why volunteers share resources, team teach and provide hand-over notes.
Volunteer timetables can vary. Typically, volunteers can expect to work 4-5 hours a day. The morning classes are held between 8 – 10 am. They will then have a break. On some days, volunteers will run a class in the afternoon. There are also some evening classes that volunteers will be expected to run. On Wednesday, there will be a compulsory volunteer meeting in the morning and teacher training in the afternoon. On Friday at 3pm, volunteers share their teaching notes to keep lessons consistent. Timetables are dependent on the needs of the schools and centres and volunteers need to be adaptable.
Volunteers do not need previous teaching experience, but they will need to be hard-working, passionate and dedicated. A clean police record will be required. Volunteers need to be 18 or over.
Volunteers should aim to make a good impression in the local community. It is important that you dress conservatively and modestly.
Girls should avoid strappy tops, crop tops and short-shorts.
When visiting temples, museums, government offices and teaching, both men and women need to have covered shoulders and knees.
As our places can fill up several months in advance throughout the year, we would recommend that you book as soon as you have decided you would like to go.
If you are keen to volunteer between June and September we would recommend that you book as early as possible, usually by February of the year that you wish to go at the latest.
We do however often have last minute availability, so you should always ask.
Laos has a tropical climate, and as such, it can be hot and rainy throughout the year and it can change very quickly. Typically, the seasons can be divided into the following:
Hot season: March to mid-June (28 – 36 degrees celsius, 75 – 90% humidity)
Wet season: June – October (25 – 33 degrees celsius, brief but frequent heavy rain showers)
Cool season: November – February ( 18 – 30 degrees celsius, cooler – even colder at night)
We would recommend taking approximately £30/$36 a week for weekend food and activities.
There are ATMs in Luang Prabang so you do not need to take all your cash with you. Make sure you take several cards with you in case one does not work in the ATM.
If you are going for over 4 weeks, you might like to consider getting a cash card. Cash cards are a safe and convenient way to take your money travelling with you – they act just like debit cards but do not have the same fees as you might have to pay on your bank cards from home. Check out our blog for details on how the card works here.
When you arrive in Laos, you will receive a visa stamp for approximately 35USD which allows you to stay for up to 30 days.
It is easy to extend this visa in Luang Prabang (you will be told how) for 78USD per month’s extension. You can only extend this twice however, to have a total of 90 days in the country.
If you wish to stay for longer, you will need to do a visa run – this usually involves getting the bus to Vientiane and going over the border there. It can be done in a day, but some people choose to fly to Chiang Mai or Bangkok to explore Thailand a bit. The same process as above would then apply when you receive a new tourist stamp. Doing the visa run should cost about 100 – 200USD. The easiest thing to do is stay for 3 months.
Most of our volunteers are independent travellers and you will become part of a group of people from around the world here. It is fine to travel with friends or as part of a small group too however- more the merrier!
You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need.
It is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against Hepatitis, rabies and tuberculosis. These are entirely optional (at your own risk) as these diseases do occur in Thailand but have not occurred at the centre. Please follow your doctor’s advice.
You may be asked about malaria in the area – whilst this is low risk in Luang Prabang, the area where the program is located, it may be worth speaking to your travel nurse or GP for further advise.
There are emergency medical facilities located in Luang Prabang, not far from your project. All staff in Laos are basic first aid trained.
At the start of the program. all volunteers will receive a full orientation and safety briefing. Laos is a relatively safe country, but common sense precautions will help to minimise risk. Always listen to the project coordinators and avoid going anywhere alone at night.
The accommodation is a short walk from the centre of Luang Prabang, where the temple is located. Travelling around the local area is easy.
You will be living in a shared guest house. Facilities may be more basic than you are used to. However, there are running hot and cold water showers, western style toilets and the guesthouse is clean and comfortable.
There are lots of local shops that will do your laundry for you for a reasonable price. They will charge per kilogram and are very quick to return your clothes.
Like the rest of Luang Prabang, there is a nationwide curfew so you will need to be back in the accommodation at 12pm.
Volunteers will receive 3 meals a day at the guesthouse. Breakfast may include toast, butter, jam, fruit salad, oats, milk, tea, coffee and croissants. Lunch and dinner will be a variety of local cuisine with vegetarian and meat options available. Typical meals will include curry, fried noodles, rice and soups. If you fancy a night out, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in Luang Prabang, both local and western style food is available. Volunteers are welcome to eat out at their own expense.
Supervision will be fairly intensive during the first few days, when you will receive a thorough induction and work-related training. Once you are comfortable with things, you might not always have a supervisor working alongside you, but there will always be staff and other volunteers around to help, and you will always be accompanied for any high risk activities.
Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are at the project. This will start from the Saturday morning at the meet up point. Before and after these times, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to leave the project during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.
There is slow wifi available at the accommodation. However, if you are looking for faster wifi, volunteers can head to local cafes in Luang Prabang. Most volunteer choose to unlock their phones at home and buy a local SIM card to access data. This may be faster than the wifi.
There is phone signal in Luang Prabang.
Laos is 7 hours ahead of GMT (GMT+7).
There is lots to do in Luang Prabang and the surrounding area. During your weekends, you could visit the nearby caves, handicraft villages, waterfalls and boat rides on the Mekong River. There are plenty of tour operators in the city. You can go further afield and visit Vientiane or go tubing and trekking in Vang Vieng.
Volunteers will get their weekends off. Volunteers may be expected to work a few evenings.
Arrivals are available on the following dates:
SEPTEMBER 2019: 7th, 21st
OCTOBER 2019: 5th, 19th
NOVEMBER 2019: 2nd, 16th, 30th
JANUARY 2020: 11th, 25th
FEBRUARY 2020: 8th, 22nd
MARCH 2020: 7th, 21st
APRIL 2020: 4th, 18th
MAY 2020: 2nd, 16th, 30th
JUNE 2020: 13th, 27th
JULY 2020: 11th, 25th
AUGUST 2020: 8th, 22nd
SEPTEMBER 2020: 5th, 19th
OCTOBER 2020: 3rd, 17th
NOVEMBER 2020: 14th, 28th
DECEMBER 2020: 12th, 26th