Nicole, Country Director for JWOC in Laos writes about one the best days of the school year- graduation day! To find out more about our work in Laos, visit our website

One of my favorite days to be at the language school is on the day of graduation. How could it not be an exciting day? It is the day in which all the students who have worked through a term receive certificates of achievement and the scholarship students who have taught them can witness how their volunteering has made an impact in their community. It is a day filled with happiness and pride and I am thankful to have the opportunity to observe, applaud and take pictures!

The latest term, which just finished in March (two classes will end in April), began in December 2010 after all of the scholarship students received a series of trainings on JWOC, the language school and teaching methods. Along with our scholarship students we had 2 volunteer teachers which brought our free English classes total up to nine, the most we have ever had at one time at the school! Three of the classes were returning from the previous term and the other six were new beginner classes with students ranging in ages from 6 years to 22 years.

This term we decided to cut the duration of the curriculum for the beginner levels in half so that we could gauge the level of the students earlier. We also felt it was important for these beginning students to be able to notice their achievement in a shorter amount of time to increase consistency of attendance and interest. Even though we did have some classes lose students during the four month period, the ones that remained have all passed, giving the school a 100% graduation rate! I think with the next term we will really be able to observe the impact of these changes to the curriculum and see if they are beneficial and the impact is lasting. We are always looking at ways to improve the system at the school so that we have the most positive impact for the students and the teachers.
I have to applaud the teachers this term; they have all done such a great job with their classes. They all applied what they had learned in the training workshops, improving their instruction and structure of their lessons. I think because they all aspire to be teachers that they are invested in the trainings and the experience they are receiving at the JWOC Language School. They are taking advantage of this opportunity and excelling with their classes.

The impact the school has on the teachers is another reason graduation day is special. This is when the teachers are able to see what they have done, what they have accomplished. This term was the first term for five of our scholarship students so, this was their first graduation. On this day they see how their work and efforts have given their students skills and knowledge. They begin to see and take pride in knowing that they are a part of the JWOC team and are making a difference in the lives of others. I am so proud of them all!

Here are some of the pictures of the smiling students receiving their certificates and the teachers that lead them to their success…

Mrs Vandy gives out a certificate to an enthusiastic young learner at the JWOC Language School

One of our Young Learner English classes expresses their excitement after receiving their certificates

Here are just a few of the students celebrating from Mr. Hmong’s class. This is their third term in the Young Adult Learners

Mr. Lee hands out a certificate to one of the youngest members of the school. He teaches the English class for 6-9 year olds. They are an energetic and fun bunch!

Ong Xiong is all smiles as she receives a certificate from her teacher, Mr. Bouakham. Ong was the only girl in her English class

Mr. Soubahn, a volunteer teacher at the language school is in his third year at Teacher Training College and came to JWOC so that he could practice his skills in the classroom. He was very successful!

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