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February 17, 2011

GM has provided scholarships to 15 students of Laos to attend the University course of Bachelor of Sociology and Social development at the Faculty of Social Sciences, FSS National University of Laos since 2005. Xuyen, a social worker in Laos, served as the social work advisor who introduced a social work course to the program and was at FSS for over two years.

GM also provided a scholarship to one lecturer to study in the Philippines and the recipient returned with a Master of Social Service and Development.  GM also provided funds for a few other lecturers to attend short courses in the Philippines on International community Development.  They are also actively working on the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Those who are under GM scholarships were in a ceremony at our home on September 6, 2010.  They are among 79 university trained social development of Laos. We call them the first batch of social development workers.

The most current update is that most of them had jobs a month or two after their graduation: three were asked by the university to work as intern young lecturers, one works with street children, two work in very remote areas of Laos with public schools, two in general hospitals, one with an international organization working on anti-human trafficking, one decided to work with her father in their organic farm, and one is working with ALL FOR DIGNITY (ATD), an international organization working for the POOREST of the POOR.

I wish you were all here to witness the happiness of these students as they became the 15 among 79 first Social work/social development workers of Lao PDR.  I invited a few good long-time friends and local supporters:  Sombath the Ramon Magsaysay award winner, Skip’s friend for about 25 years, a solid Lao; Mme Dara, a writer, children’s book writer, publisher, storyteller, and 15 year friend whom I met when I first arrived in Laos and remains a friend and supporter over the years I’ve been in Laos

I invited two young people whom I had mentored for many years. Mr. Phouthasine, our first volunteer at Donkoi when he was 14, and mentored him for 8 years.  He now has a master’s degree in Development holder, working very successfully as an agriculturist with a Swiss NGO who travels all over the world.  He has a job offer working in Italy, but has not yet made a decision.  He is still a volunteer and advisor of Lao youth network, and Head of Phonsinuan children development center.

The second young person is BOUNMY, well-known to you, the first Lao social worker that I wrote a story about.  She was not able to come so I invited her Mom, Susan and her husband, the Former director of The Vientiane International School, Susan, the good friend of more than 10 years and solid supporter whom I can confidently share the challenges while working in Laos, Ny another good friend whom I also have admired and known for 15 years, a sociologist and GENDER expert of Laos.

Each of those who came as our special guests gave a short message full of meaning. The graduates were still busy taking notes like they were still in classes.  I miss taking those photos of them taking notes Amazing! Then we lit the candles while giving the certificate of Appreciation for being a volunteer at our child development centers, at the university library, other schools and other centers from four to eight years!   They sang the song “It’s me who build COMMUNITY, it’s you’s... Us... Who build community” and I suggested to them to keep the network as we have already had the name SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS since 2008 for this group.  I took some of them to Vietnam this November for the 13th Annual World Social work day in HCMC to get more inspiration and energy.
Then they handed the candles to the second batch of BSSD (as I think of this candle tradition: I copied this from my Caritas of Social work in 1967 when I graduated and copied DR Neal of West Virginia when I was attending the last day of Summer Institute of Summer 2010 – so meaningful with candle light)
I need to stop for now as the BSSD graduates are arriving to learn English with three German volunteers this month.

Love and with deep appreciation for your support for all those years that made this happen.

Xuyen Dangers, Laos

Xuyen Dangers is a social work supervisor in Laos who trains Social work university students as interns in Donkoi Children Development Center.  

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