Learning in Laos

Greetings from Luang Prabang in Laos! I write to you on the eve of midterm report cards. Indeed, it is hard to believe that our Global High School is now half way through term two. Midterm grades will be posted on Edsby shortly where you will see the progress your child has made in his/her courses thus far. I must say this has been a very conscientious group of students. Their work ethic is truly commendable. As you know, teachers are always available to connect with you should you have any inquiries.

Since our last journal entry, we have been busy exploring the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of Luang Prabang. The pace here has been less hectic, the air cleaner and the prevailing character of this ancient capital is serene and sacred. This is the land of temples, monks and Buddhas, where the national curfew keeps its citizens and tourists respectful of Laotian traditions. Over the last week, we have uncovered hints of the French colonial past in the architecture as well as in the Asian fusion cuisine.

students in front of temple in Luang Prabang

Early on Friday, we rose at dawn to participate in an Alms Giving ceremony. Students and teachers were given a woven basket filled with rice to pass out to young Buddhist monks walking in single queue, draped in orange robes. We witnessed how they quietly descend from the hills to collect their food from the towns people. This is a solemn daily ritual and one that we were very moved to experience firsthand.

students participating in an Alms Giving ceremony

Following Alms Giving, we ventured into the Morning Market, not to be confused with the night market, where our senses were awaken with the scents of fresh exotic fruits, vegetables, and spices and the sizzle of frying batters. Boiling pots brimming with broth, galangal leaves, lemongrass and other fragrant delicacies delighted our faculties. Later that same day, we participated in another Laotian ritual, a Baci Ceremony. In this private event, local villagers, mainly elders, offered us tidings of good luck and fortune for our lives and travels by gently tying cotton cords around our wrists to symbolize luck, friendship and good health. We were again touched by the kindness of these village people. Many of us are still wearing our white cotton cords.

students getting cotton cords tied on their wrists as part of a Baci Ceremony

For those who enjoy water sports, kayaking down the rapids of the Mekong River proved to be an exhilarating adventure on Saturday. We traversed the rapids apprehensively but adeptly. Luckily, no one’s kayak capsized which we feel attests to our collective endurance and kayaking skills.

students kayaking down the Mekong River

Sunday was another day of adventure as we all whizzed over the jungle canopy on zip-lines. Zipping between platforms set high above the tree tops on a series of cables is not for the faint of heart. No matter, our fearless students did not seem the least bit concerned and at least a couple of individuals appeared to have conquered their fear of heights.

students in harnesses doing a high ropes course

In the past few days we had the opportunity to celebrate not one, but two birthdays. We sincerely hope Mr. Cronkite and Lidija will remember their special day fondly in Luang Prabang.

Our last exciting excursion in Laos brought us to the breathtaking Kuang Si Falls where we bathed in shallow pools of aquamarine water amidst cascading waterfalls and lush jungle vegetation. The photo opportunities here may have been among the best yet.

student in front of Kuang Si Falls

Leaving Laos this week and saying goodbye to the warm and kind people of this country will be sad for some of us. It has been a moving and remarkable experience. But we know there is still so much more to explore as we voyage down the Mekong River this Wednesday towards northern Thailand. Our journey is far from over. Please do take a look at Vidigami for a glimpse of our students at work and at play. Until Thailand…

Best regards,

Monika Quinn
Head of School